Cooking Is A Rollercoaster Of Suck But I Love It

Restaurants are never a desired career for many, but for people crazy enough to do it, cooking is the most rewarding profession. Is it soul-sucking? Oh, you betcha. It certainly can be. Are you ever appreciated for what you do? A 99% chance of never. But god damn, the feeling you get from pumping out 500 breakfasts from 7 am to 1 pm without a mistake in sight? Getting compliments of your food? Ooof. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than that. It’s pure bliss. Absolute chef’s kisses.

That’s what kept me going. That feeling that I could cook with the best of them. People telling me that was the best pizza they’ve ever had or the best omelet they’ve ever put in their mouth. Shit, that little dopamine hit fueled me. It kept me grinding. It kept me hungry to try and get better. It gave me the strength to keep on flying at lightspeed until the wheels came off, which they eventually did. 

Sure the fatigue, the caffeine comedown, and the feeling that you’re about to shit your pants because you’ve been holding it for the past 3 hours kicks in, but the satisfaction feels out of this world. 

Not to mention the adrenaline high mixing with 300mg of caffeine coursing through your veins, is enough to keep cooks going for decades. It kept me going for a decade, I’ll tell you that.

Now, I know I just sounded like an absolute drug addict, but thank God caffeine is legal. I wouldn’t have made it 2 years without it. Or I’d have a full-blown meth addiction, which many cooks do indeed have, but something I’m very happy I dodged. 

Then after the job’s done, maybe slam a beer or 7 afterward because it’s been nothing short of deserved. 

Do that long enough, and boy oh boy, here comes the pain train called burnout. A feeling of defeat and mental and physical annihilation. Being completely burned from both ends. The fryer burns, the knife cuts, the full body stiffness, the aching joints, the mental fog, and the anger of a steroid junkie all coming together like a family reunion from hell. Boy, been there done that. I could barely stand on my feet without feeling like I was walking on pins and needles.

The cherry on top? I was a complete asshole at the end of my cooking career. I mean, a hulk-like rage boiled inside me almost every day. A bull in a fuckin’ china shop ready to break every single plate and cup put in my way.  

Sure, I kept my cool most days, but man, some days it was pure agony. No desire to be flipping burgers or slinging eggs. Or rather, slinging eggs against the wall because an over-easy egg busted open. No will to do any more prep. It felt like the most mundane and pointless task. I felt like a cog in the machine. Which, in a functioning kitchen line you have to be, otherwise shit will without a doubt hit the fan. 

I finally crashed and said enough was enough. The brutal 16-hour shifts that dragged me through the mud only to do it again at the ass crack of dawn destroyed me. It broke me. The repetition of prepping the same ingredients over and over again. The same quantities. It never changed. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was literally fried. The joy of cooking was sapped from me. The dopamine hits became nonexistent, and working purely for a paycheck just wasn’t enough anymore. 

So, I hung up the spatula and called it quits. 

I had a vendetta against cooking. At the time, would I recommend anyone to cook? Hell no. They’d be morons to go into a kitchen. And to be honest, I told people that even when I was cooking. They’d have to be borderline insane to work in a kitchen. Which, you do kinda have to be to survive in the conditions. 

I don’t know where I’m exactly going with this, but what I’m trying to say is everyone should cook in a restaurant for at least 1 year. You know, see what it’s like. 

Now I know I didn’t paint the most glamorous picture in your head of what cooking is like. Far from it. But I think you should still experience the highs and the many many lows that are felt in a kitchen. The fuckin’ rollercoaster that it is. But still smile at the end of the day because you served an absolute busload of people better than any kitchen ever could. 

Now, stepping away from cooking for over a year, enough time has gone by that I’ve definitely come back around to cooking. Like I mentioned before, I think everyone should try to cook in a restaurant. 

In fact, I went back to working one night a week just to sling some pizzas. I love it. I don’t have to worry about the daily mundane tasks and deal with the swing shifts and shitty hours.

To be honest, making homemade pizzas has got to be my favorite thing to cook. Hands down. Stretching out dough that’s the perfect consistency, slapping the exact amount of sauce on the crust so it doesn’t make the dough soggy, and putting the ingredients together so you get each one in every single bite is like making art for me. Each pizza is its very own canvas in my mind. I guess, much like writing, it’s one of the most satisfying creative outlets I can think of. 

So, I guess the point of this article is to give my own little perspective on cooking. It’s a violent rollercoaster filled with ups and downs and thrown spatulas, or eggs in my case, but it’s something that I’d never take back. It’s not a lane for everyone, but worth every second when you’re in the trenches with your gang of adrenaline-fueled cooks experiencing the absolute suck together. The comradery alone is something I’ll never forget. Without a doubt, cooking in a kitchen made me who I am today. 

And with that, I want to say this one last thing. 

Say thank you to the cooks grinding it out in the back. Buy them a round of drinks or leave ‘em a few bucks if your food tastes out of this world. That simple gesture makes a cook’s day more than you’ll ever know. 

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