Life in a Restaurant, Week 12: Kitchen Nightmares


"Courage is grace under pressure."

Ernest Hemingway 


I had my first restaurant dream last night. It wasn’t the good kind - incessant buzzing of the printer leaving a trail of tickets, dragging order times, and mental images of pissed off diners waiting for their food filled my head and woke me up at 3 A.M.

“Oh no! You had a restaurant dream”, The Chef groaned, half empathetic, but almost sounding half guilty as well when I told her.  Apparently restaurant nightmares are quite common among those who work in the industry, but I guess I’ll call it a rite of passage - a sign that you can officially call yourself experienced in the realm of line cooking.  

I was reading something on reddit earlier this week about how minimum wage people don’t have to deal with the pressure of white collar jobs, hence justifying their meager salary.  As someone who was once a part of the professional cubicle world, I can’t say that I agree.  Anxiety feels the same no matter what its caused by - it just depends how much money you’re making off of it.  Of course, a plate of beignets in the middle of a busy service does not generate the same income as landing a contract in a business to business enterprise resource planning sales job.

Kitchen stress is a daily occurrence one just adjusts to over time. It’s finding ways to cater a winemaker’s dinner on a busy Thursday for twenty five, and trying to find space to plate everything on the meager butcher block we have available.  It’s also somehow managing to make fifty identical quenelles of tartare within ten minutes, and finding ways to fix the roquefort honey gelato that has too much bleu cheese in it before dessert.  The pressure goes home with you: about how long your prep list is the next day, and how tomorrow is a Friday so you’re bound to be in the weeds for at least some part of the night.  Depending on how confident you’re feeling, you can sleep like a cast iron pan, or fall victim to another kitchen nightmare.  Either way, all I’ve been thinking about lately, is the pressure... The never ending pressure...