I just finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, and I must say I’m feeling kind of discouraged right now. I’m not saying the book was bad – it wasn’t. It was well-written, entertaining, and enlightening. I really enjoyed reading it.
Everyone at my internship site told me I should read it, although with several chef instructors. Granted, the food industry and kitchen culture has changed as least somewhat from what he describes (a motley crew of drug-addled, uneducated, crude cooks), but still: that culture is alive and well in some places.
Let’s just say: this book scared me. I am a career-changer, bright-eyed, motivated to make a difference, do my best. But can I really make it in this industry? As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not tough. I’m not bad-ass. I’m naive and sensitive, two things that will get you pushed around in a kitchen. Those are not the characteristics of a well-rounded chef.
Will I be able to navigate this foreign world, even with my culinary-school set of skills? People tell me I need to toughen up a little. I get that, although I think it will be hard for me. But I nevertheless refuse to believe that all kitchens are like the ones Bourdain describes. I want to work in a place where I am respected for the job I do, where the people around me have high standards, and where care and interest is given to the food we make. I want to believe that such a place exists. And that I will work there. And be happy. (And maybe a little bad-ass.)