Throughout my childhood I tried my hand at competitive sports, however, my vision of becoming a well respected and meritorious athlete was short-lived. Despite my whole hearted attempts at soccer, cross country, lacrosse and crew, I never felt in my element. So, as a person who needs a “tribe”, how was I going to find one without being an athlete? Instead of perpetuating my ineptitude of passing, kicking, throwing, and running I’ve chosen a far less glamorous means of finding my own tribe- the professional kitchen. No more pushups and one mile “warm up” jogs, now I’m sweeping floors and working under the pressure of a group of overworked and underpaid professionals who need to get their food on time.
Despite the stress of working on a highly coordinated timeline, we’re always on a mission to find moments of ebullience and levity while maintaining the highest standards. As said by Anthony Bourdain “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family.” I’ve learned that even in moments of seemilying crippling stress, there will still be opportunities to transform the milieu into something more akin to a family than a workplace. Whether it’s playing music to encourage others to break out into song or feeding the staff using the ingredients which would’ve gone bad over the weekend, there’s always a chance to turn that frown upside down.
The kitchen certainly isn’t the place for everyone- the back breaking work done in the name of creating a pleasurable experience for a paying customer isn’t always fulfilling. However, for me at least, the blood sweat and tears become paltry with just one raving review. I’m not recommending every non-athletic teenager to go find a job in a kitchen, but rather have faith in your tribe existing somewhere. Whether you’re singing in musicals or playing the french horn for the school band, there’s always potential to experience those fulfilling moments of unity and friendship.