The restaurant industry is riddle with misfits. The addicts who can’t seem to shake their demons, the narcissist who needs constant validation, the brokenhearted who seek comfort in caring for others. Then there are the poor, who try to work their way out of poverty and of course, the hungry, who are eager to prove that they are the best chef around. We all enter this industry because we need it, it satisfies a craving that eats away at our souls. In the industry we find family, albeit a broken one but through hard work and sacrifice we forge the pieces back together to find acceptance.
When I was in 4th grade we had an assignment to write a short story about something that happened to us. Most of the class wrote about funny things or the times they had an amazing vacation at Disney World. I wrote about sleeping in a hallway outside the apartment where we were evicted from.
We were poor. My mother was a single mom who worked to provide me with food and the best life she could. I turned to food as both a drug and a cure to my misery. As soon as I could get a job, I was working as a dishwasher at a local sub shop. I saved enough money to help out with bills but also buy the mountain bike I wanted. As the years went on, the restaurant industry became my drug dealer. It gave me just enough of a payoff to keep coming back. From my days as a dishwasher to earning my first chef jacket and going on to open my first restaurant, I have been blessed to call the restaurant business, which we simply call, “The Industry,” my profession.
In the industry, we discover that chaos lies in us all. We learn to wield this chaos, or it consumes us, ironically, with the very things that we consume. Our vices turn into virtues or we end up never achieving our goals. We drown these sorrows in shift beers at the end of another double shift looking around at the newbies whose ambitions are chalked up to inexperience. War stories of nights in the weeds become our legends and the ghosts of our former selves haunts the old houses in which we’ve worked.
We are the industry, an island of misfit toys doomed to wander various houses, servants of the public overlooking our own needs. We are the full-time wanderers and part-time therapists who lend you an ear while we pour another round. We are the…