I peel out of bed well after most working people have finished their second break of the day. I brush my teeth, then jump in the shower for a quick rinse. I don’t really need to, I showered before bed. But it wakes me up, and removes any memory of the grease and bar ick I wore home last night. I smooth back my hair and safely secure it in a sanitary kitchen approved knot. After an unexpected gust of wind introduced an overly aggressive grill to my face at a catering event last year, today I apply minimal make up to protect what lash nubs I have left. I dress in my daily uniform of jeans, a tank top and a boxy, stain resistant, breathable kitchen jacket. If it’s hot outside I roll up the hems. If it’s cold, well, I don’t do anything different because where I’m going is hot year round! Then I step into my clogs, non-slip, easy to clean, arch supported, kitchen clogs. Wait, did I remember deodorant? That’s super important! Maybe I’ll put more on just in case!
That’s it, I’m ready for the day.
Are you jealous yet ladies? Contain your excitement boys.
My whole morning regimen takes about 15 minutes, plus a few extra depending on how fast Shug dog handles his morning regimen outside, and how many times I hit the snooze button. See, last night I set my alarm for an earlier time than I needed to because I was certain this would be the morning I finally started jogging. But last night’s dinner service kicked my ass, and I feel pretty sore. So, at the very least I promise to eat healthier today…. right up until somebody makes a mistake and then there’s a basket of chicken wings and fries sitting around. No reason to see it go to waste. Besides, food costs, right? I’m definitely going to start jogging tomorrow.
This is the glamorous life of a chef.
– Minimal maintenance.
– Functional fashion.
– Convenient calories.
I live close to work. The first four blocks I spend lecturing myself on how freaking tired I am due to all the caffeine from yesterday that kept me awake all night. Then I drive the next four blocks after the drive-thru juggling my americano while I hunt for a parking spot. Parking is a tricky situation. You want to be far enough away to leave the best spots for your customers, but close enough to have the shortest walk possible after work. Not only because you’re tired, but also because, other than your fellow kitchen folk, the only people out this late are energized by something. Caffeine, drugs, booze, whatever it is, nobody is innocently awake and walking the streets after midnight.
Nobody, except the kitchen kind!
The personality of a chef is a unique one. We’re equal parts tattoos, rock n’ roll and rebellion with books, educational tv and I wear these shoes for comfort. Imagine a group of stoners discussing pop culture, politics, philosophy and munchies. That’s pretty much us! Pot, herb and smoke are in our daily vocabulary, but beer and wine are our preferred drug of choice. Not that any of us have a problem with weed, we’re as about a liberal bunch as you’ll find in most cases, but the cloudy head thing doesn’t mix well with knives and fire! We have the kitchen BUZZ….
How can I describe the buzz???
After a busy dinner service, there is an adrenaline rush that requires a certain amount of time to filter through the body. I’ve spent the last 10 hours drugged on caffeine, stress, loud noises, inappropriate humor and extreme temperatures. At 9pm I’m knee deep in tickets. I eat dinner around 10pm, then drain down a few beers with my colleagues while we review the night’s events. Home most nights by midnight, unless the buzz is still rolling strong, then a detour to the local pub is in order. By the time I get home, showered and ready for bed, it’s pushing 2am. Here’s where our life makes no sense at all! We don’t sleep, not really. I say we, because this is a hot topic among my group of kitchen friends. Now we’re smart enough to know why we don’t sleep well, but we lack the self control to make the necessary changes. I guzzle energy drinks to keep my momentum pushing throughout the evening, then late night eating, topped with loud bar music and a midnight shower is not a recipe for relaxation. But it’s our routine, and to change any one part of it, changes our whole day. So tossing, turning, in and out of sleep commences until about 10am. My morning regimen begins, and the hamster wheel takes another turn. Every day is similar to the last, and tomorrow is looking familiar too. All sounds very monotonous, I know. But the ironic thing is, nothing about this job is boring! My mind is spinning all of the time, and my body is in constant motion. Guests are never predictable, orders are rarely simple, recipes are ever changing, and time is always disappearing. Every moment is an opportunity to teach, and every day is full of lessons….
Irony… I just got called into work!
Speaking of expecting the unexpected, the last few weeks at this time my restaurant was slow, so this week I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for some Mo-time. Well sure enough, as soon as I start to relax, I answer my phone to a panicked call for HELP! Luckily, or maybe not so lucky, I live a few short blocks away. So I cut my am regimen in half, and made it in to help just as the rush ended! I plate the last two tickets, get back in the car and head for home. While I’m out I might as well drive thru for another latte!
I’ll ease off the caffeine tomorrow, and I’m definitely going to work out in the morning.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. It is my true belief that we make the world a better place and our experience in it richer if we share our experience together. I do that through food at my restaurant, Smoking Mo’s in Shelton, Washington, and through my story telling here. I deeply thank you for joining me on this adventure, and for giving me the love and encouragement to keep moving forward.