ignorance is bliss by adam stark

5 06 2009

Two weeks ago, i took the terrible amtrack train ride back to my hometown outside of detroit to do an informal “stage” at my restaurant. I call it informal because i got paid and i already have the job but it was required for me to recieve the sous position. Many of the employees there were familiar faces, yet its funny how unfamiliar they seem to me now. Two employees in particular who we will call Mike and Tim to protect their identities stood out the most. I was sixteen when i got hired in to my bistro from the bar and grill i had worked at previous and Mike and Tim were the lead and second respectively who were in charge of my training. I was always amazed at their speed and seemingly bountiful knowledge of the art they were teaching me. Upon returning for my stage, it was immediately apparent to me that they were not the same superheros who had wished me luck less than a year ago when i left to come here. Do not get me wrong, my experiences in Chicago have definately accelerated my learning curve far beyond what i could have recieved had i stayed in michigan, to an almost unfair rate compared to my peers back at the bistro. After spending a year in this school and in restaurants around the city. I have been exposed to, and only too, other chefs of similar ability and/or similar education and that has most definately sheltered me from the cold, hard reality of the real culinary world.

“99% of your culinary employees will never live up to your standards that you set for yourself.”

Let that quote burn into your mind for just a short moment. Truth is folks, the real world outside of the walls of learning is made up of half people just trying to make bills, and another half that wasnt good enough to make it to a chef level and are now just doing what they know. It may hurt to hear but the figure our instructers threw at us the first day of class are almost TOO true. Most of our peers and even our graduating class will be leaving this profession within ten years.

For good reason.

If le cordon bleu taught me anything, it is this, no matter how hard you try sometimes, things will always fail, and no matter how many times you find solutions new problems will always emerge. There is almost always someone better than you and you will never properly seperate yourself from the majority without biting the ankles of those you seek to impress. Some say success is relative. I disagree, I believe that people’s ideas of success may be relative but that does not mean that just because we are happy working unpaid externships or nine-dollar-an-hour-three-star-restaurant-pantry jobs that we will be at all succesful when the loan payments start piling up. No, rather think of things this way: there is only one way to succeed in this business, be the best at wherever you are at. Measure your own ability, and adjust your situation accordingly. If you are in the industry right now, and you are stressing out because each dinner rush sends you under and each prep list overwhelms you, then quit. Stop. NOW. There is no point in wasting your time lolligaging around trying to do what your chefs told you to. Better, find a restaurant you can accel in, one where your not learning from the salad guy, learn from the sous, or the chef, make yourself valuble, dont settle for less than your ability, but dont push it too far either. I have watched and am watching too many people get soured on this industry because they expected too much of their own abilities. Know yourself. I will close with one of the greatest quotes i heard during my time at CHIC. “the job you are most qualified for upon completion of this program is…..dishwasher” Focus, Speed, Execution. If you cant stand the heat, cool it down, otherwise, GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. that is all peace be with you


PS.sorry if my grammer is off, check the timestamp, im tired




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