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8 Ways Being a Chef Shaped My Life

being a chef shaped my life
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One of my friends got kidnapped and then he got fired.

Another pretended to be kidnapped and he got fired.

Covering yourself in soot from the furnace and ripping your shirt didn’t fool our boss so I didn’t do it.

I didn’t get fired so I carried on pot washing for a bit longer.

I was 16 starting out in the world of ‘work…’

No worries, no debt, no bills, life was just fun. I was finding my feet as a young adult, spending every day with my best mates, I loved it. 

After a year or so of not being fired and with the waitresses more interested in the chefs than the pot washers I needed a promotion…

So I learnt how to do everything to run the kitchen. I did this by the time I was 18.

The best job I ever had.

We worked 12 hours straight and then went to the club until the early hours at least 4 days a week. I don’t remember ever being tired.

We had no bills so we had enough money to do what we wanted. It was all disposable, and we enjoyed disposing of it all…

Then I failed all my A-levels.

I moved to another restaurant to get more experience but it was different this time…

I had no friends there. I wasn’t qualified. I was starting again from rock bottom and had everything to prove. I knew that once I had proven myself the new waitresses might like me.

Here is what I figured out about work and life…

1. Life is too short to work with people you don’t like

The saying, ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’ is true but working with people you like and respect is equally important.

You spend more time with these people than your partner and your kids so why would you do so with people who make you miserable?

2. Good communication is vital

One of the first times I was running the main station on a busy night I struggled. I didn’t want the head chef to know I couldn’t cope so I kept quiet rather than asking for help and the whole service ground to a halt.

I didn’t make that mistake again.

3. Good team work gives you an easier life

When you work with people for a long time you sync with each other.

Understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses including your own. 

4. Plan in advance

Preparation took a couple of hours before every opening and it was the most important and often busiest time of the day.

Sort your shit out before you start anything.

5. Have an unwavering work ethic

This is something I learnt very quickly. Without this in a kitchen you would be killed. Literally, the other chefs would gut you. There could be no passengers.

If you want to achieve more in life you have to work for it. There are no shortcuts.

6. If you are good enough you’re old enough

I was an unqualified, skinny little 19 year old entering a brutal new kitchen at the second place. Do you think that bothered me?

I knew I was better than the other chefs and I didn’t let any of their abuse stop me getting to the top of that kitchen.

Fuck what other people think or what the ‘rules’ say.

Work harder than everyone else, learn constantly and believe in yourself…

7. Treat junior staff like the CEO

One culture I inherited at the second restaurant was that all the pot washers were treated like shit.

Having been in their shoes, I hated it…

I decided to treat them like royalty and show them the same respect as I showed the owner.

Give everyone a sense of importance – the biggest motivator of people I have ever experienced. Make your staff happy to help you.

8. Always be improving

Unless you want to be a loser.

If you aren’t moving forwards you are going backwards. Simple as that.

-Matthew Brown

What did you learn in your first ‘proper job?’ Add your own stories in the comments.

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0 thoughts on “8 Ways Being a Chef Shaped My Life

  1. One of my first jobs [decades ago] was working as a carhop. I loved it, but it only lasted a few days. Why? I didn’t wear comfortable shoes. I was styling, and paid for it dearly. I got a major blister on two important toes on each foot, and was literally down on my knees crawling around for a couple of weeks. What did I learn? Dress your feet for the job. The heck with looking too cute. In the end, you may have to crawl out of there, and there’s nothing “cute” about that!

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