A quote from The French Laundry
"Staff meal was first about the fundamentals of cooking and how to work with by-products, using scrapsto make something tasty, eye-appealing, and satisfying. But the message underlying was "Can you be passionate about cooking at this level?" staff meal. Only the staff sees it. If you can make great food for these people, create that habit, have that drive, that sincerity, and keep that with you and take it to another level in the staff meal, then someday you'll be a great chef. Maybe"
First Course "Importance of Staff Meal" pg. 115
There are a few things Id like to touch on about this quote. I was talking with a classmate today after class. She was very frustrated with culinary school in general and when I asked to detail what it was that was bothering her, her response was:
"It’s the mentality of the business, everyone just cares about themselves. I want to, I don’t know, help people. That and its all about food, just food."
This brings up a really interesting aspect of the food industry as a whole. I think the best analogy I have ever heard in reference to the industry was:
"You know Little Shop of Horrors right? Well you know how at first Seymour just has to feed the plant blood from his finger, then cuts of raw meat, then whole people? Yeah, Plant=Food Industry. It’ll eat you alive; eat your whole life alive, if you let it."
I’ve found this to be so very true, but not without exception. The key to this quote and the quote from Thomas Keller are almost one in the same, in premise. "If you let it"/"..Keep that with you and take it to another level..", both of these have an underlying principle about the food industry and cooking all together.
If you have a vision, a dream of what you want to do you can’t let the work stand in your way. You can let the work bend you, or you can bend the work. But to bend the work it takes work. It takes sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. Those are the cost of dreams.
Keller makes an excellent point about family meal. It’s the most basic meal in the kitchen and you can either throw things together in a pot-luck sort of manner or you can give a damn and try. You can apply knowledge and skill and make something you can be proud of, something you would be proud to serve to your fellow foodies.
Think of it this way, if your parents or your spouse were to walk into your restaurant wouldn’t you want to go the extra mile for them to show them your skill? Same should apply to family meal, hell, even more then family meal it should apply to everything you do in the kitchen.
The biggest obstacle to this? Laziness. I would bet all $2.85 in my bank account that that’s the case.
Doing things to a point of "excellence" is hard work. No matter what field you’re in, you have to work hard and have people under you work just as hard to reach that point. Once your there you run the risk of getting "burnt out" quickly. It takes effort, time, and energy to maintain it.
But we are reminded by Keller that if we can maintain and strive for that point of excellence in even the simplest of things, we can surely maintain it in the greatest of things. The only thing holding us back is ourselves, we are our greatest obstacle.
So my response to my classmate:
"You could give up and quit, even though you’re not happy. But you have to look at every aspect, look at the small detail. Will you be happy in 5 years with your choice? Will you regret what you’ve done? You have to do what makes you happy, but sometimes what makes you happy isn’t what you need. Do what you feel you need to do, just remember the devil is in the details. Think about your choice long and hard before you make it, and make the one that suits you the best.
Be aware though, that no matter the choice there will be sacrifice. The sacrifice may be small or large depending on the choice you make and what you value. Sacrifice personal happiness now for a degree that may open doors to do something you really love? or leave now and search for that thing to do, sacrifice being the loss of a degree that might have or have not helped. Really it comes down to how you feel, but don’t think the whole industry is like what you’ve experienced so far, there are some out there that feel the same way you do, I’m sure of that. You just have to find each other."
She didn’t come to nutrition class, but I hope to see her on Monday in class. To come this far and not finish would be a shame in my opinion. No matter what she does, I hope she finds what she’s looking for.
..Then someday you'll be happy. Maybe.