Written by CSFTW Chef Mark Hitri.

Photo by James Creange.

Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Whoever said that never loved cooking.

Because cooking is not just work; it’s hard work.  Long hours, cramped kitchens, weekends, and holidays. It takes time to master the knife cuts and the techniques for soufflés and consommés as well as sauces and vegetable cookery. Peeling cases of potatoes and shrimp (just not in the same sink…yes, I have seen that) can be hard on your back. The long days can be hard on your feet as well as your relationships. But once you have mastered the craft, the cooking is easy, and, for those of us that do love it, there is nothing we would rather be doing regardless of how much we complain about it.

What becomes really hard once you become a chef has nothing to do with the cooking but everything to do with your team. The hard part is cutting people’s hours to make budgets. The math is easy to figure out, but as you lead and develop your team, and try to meet the goals of the establishment, the challenge begins. I had to deal with this reality multiple times and for various reasons, and this aspect of being a chef never gets easy. This is why it is so important that as a leader of your kitchen you create an environment where these decisions won’t destroy your morale. How will you deal with the hard decisions?