This piece was previously published on shakeyourcookie.com, my weird blog, on 1/9/2018 with the title “Order to Chaos—A Tiny Rant About Why Cooks Mmmmmmmight Be Crazy.” I got super bored with it being a food blog so, I started to tell stories about life and cooking and other stuff so that I would start posting again and so it would be fun to write. It’s so much more fun.
*Disclaimer: not all cooks are crazy. that’s not true. all cooks are batshit*
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that most professional cooks are a fairly broken bunch of folks.
One could even say “mentally ill” if one was to forgo diplomacy. Having worked in kitchens for many years and living with myself for even more, I cannot debate this theory. I am, however, going to try to defend it. Or, at least myself.
Creative children are sometimes born. I was one of these. The kid that just doesn’t fit the mold. The child who won’t be satisfied with the status quo. The little girl who didn’t understand that a full car meant you won the game of “Life” (in fact, many games of “Life” ended abruptly due to my reckless off road adventures). The child who did fly. As romantic as this all may sound, this world is not kind to artists. There was a one in a million chance (maybe) that I would make a living as an actor, writer, singer, photographer, film maker, or painter. I had to turn my keen eye, outsized senses, and empathetic spirit to something that would pay the rent. I had to marry the cousin (maybe even the third cousin) of my true loves in order to pay my bills and still be an “artist.” To still be creative. I became a cook.
A cook who preps calm from chaos. Everything in its place. Tiny bowls full of bright colors, smells, textures, shapes, and flavors. Flaming passions juggling knives and flinging expletives at each other and trembling waitstaff.
“Does this look ok, chef?”
“It doesn’t matter. They hate life. They order their eggs over hard. Fuck them and their bull shit shell of an existence.”
Really!?!? Sarah, it’s just breakfast.
It’s just dinner.
It’s just the most beautiful bunch of greens you have ever cooked in your life.
It’s just that perfect salmon chowder.
It’s just the phrase “this looks too good to eat.”
It’s just health.
It’s just life.
It’s just a million tiny deadlines.
It’s just nailing a rush.
It’s just the clock and the tickets.
It’s just 1000 covers in 5 hours.
It’s just the line. The line. Your brothers and sisters in arms.
Bitter and dramatic. Dancing with and around each other while dipping and spitting out obscene poetry and secret codes. We are frustrated artists, hiding behind the line. Pretending this cooking is some high art.
But, cooking is disposable. Cooking is food, three days before it is sewage. Cooking is chopping, combining, stirring, and applying heat. Cooking is everything. Cooking is order to chaos. Cooking is the artist.
So, yes, profesional cooks are kind of crazy for the most part.