Celebration of the Working Class

 

 

My favorite form of television is anything that involves food. It could be the history of food, how to cook food, where does food come from, cooks competitively preparing food, food eating other food – it doesn’t matter. I’ll watch it. There is a definite outcome with this type of entertainment — in the end you see food. There are no story arcs or character development, just a succession of scenes depicting various materials as they go through the process of becoming food. This type of television is just as enjoyable with the sound off, as a parade of butchered meats and chopped cheeses and vegetables get tossed into pots, pans, grills, and ovens. Smothered fat and butter glimmer, the host babbles, blah blah blah. Ligament, tissue, marrow, cartilage – terminology of hospitals and torture films.

A top personality in this world is Anthony Bourdain, retired chef, writer, and host of the Travel Channel programs ‘No Reservations‘ and ‘The Layover,’ plus CNN‘s ‘Parts Unknown.’ To simply call him the host seems obscene and wrong. Anthony Bourdain is the show. Mr. Bourdain travels the globe eating the indigenous foodstuffs of each region while dispensing quips, truths, and insights about the various meals. Bourdain’s books are numerous, and I’ve read quite a few of them and what I find most interesting about them, and the television made by The Food Network and its offspring Cooking Channel, is that they have turned a regular, minimum wage profession into something desirable and worth celebrating.

I spent the first ten years of my working life in restaurants. At any given point you could have called me a dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, waiter, bar-back, busboy, ‘food to-go’ guy, or a last ditch effort for a manager. In the positions that were not worthy of receiving tips, I made a dollar or two above minimum wage, meaning I made my money by quantity of hours worked, not by quality or any particular skill I had. For some, these are the only jobs available and for others they act as entry point into the work force.

Restaurant work is manual labor. Long hours with little pay and opportunity for advancement. I worked lunch and dinners that were relentless, tables turned and turned so you sweat, chop, and prep plates at the fire, get orders out and in the end you towel off and enjoy a beer before heading home. Each night was a marathon in the heat of the kitchen. What’s odd yet amazing is how the job has become a desired career path with commercials running daily for various cooking schools that proclaim to be able to set their graduates on a path into the upper levels of the food industry. This is not to dismiss the act of restaurant cooking, in fact, just the opposite. I love the fact that this important yet lowly profession is getting its laurels and accolades it deserves.

 

 

 

 

A hope is that at some point other blue collar positions gain a status of similar prestige. The postal workers (famous only for their penchant for blind aggressive murder), the janitors, trash men, gas station attendants, toll takers, drug store clerks, receptionists, ticket takers, and street sweepers have yet to be as properly celebrated as the role of cook. They all toil as each of us does in our own way, in a great blackness, unseen and unheard. Nameless faces on the street.

Anthony Bourdain has a clear link to this trench, yet he is far from it. He jumped out of the deep muck into the world of books and television, hefty paychecks and endorsements the hook in his mouth. Do we follow him? Should the other disrespected professions demand for a cameraman to follow them around? Should we say, ‘See me. Respect my work. Give it worth.’ That is the great dilemma, for me at least, when your career is the grunt work, the unheard and unseen shadow play of modern American life.

What gives a job worth when there is no respect inherent to the task and your paycheck fails to fully represent what you feel you put into it? What then? What of us? We look to fame and fortune when sometimes all you really need is someone to tell you, ‘You did a hell of a good job. Thank you.’ Who doesn’t want to be told they did a quality job, even if your title is only parking lot valet or grocery store clerk?

 

 

New York City street cleaner, circa many moons ago

New York City street cleaner, circa many moons ago

ETDC END LOGO

103 thoughts on “Celebration of the Working Class

  1. I was all ready to comment on the interesting point of your post…until the final pic. Until THE BONE. Now, I find myself completely incapable of focusing on anything else!

    😉

    Great post. Great photo. Wow.

    Mikalee

    1. I’m with you on that one! Just got a bit of a smack in the face with the size of that thing. I was side-swept, drawn in by talk of food and sweaty kitchens and then… BOOM! Hit with the bone!

  2. This is an awesome piece! I, too, spent many long hours in a kitchen or bar area serving up drinks and meals for others. It is a thankless job, one you’re rarely paid well to do. Perhaps the increase in “foodies” and “foodie culture” has left people thinking the job itself is actually sexy. We love eating, being social around food and drink, and perhaps, like DIY projects, people think it’s “fun” or “cool” to be the one behind the swinging doors. They don’t understand that ingredients don’t come pre-chopped in a color coordinated bowl, ready to be tossed in. Many don’t know just how freaking labor intensive it is to prepare an artichoke or how many wheels have to keep coming for one night at an eatery to go off without a hitch.

  3. I see what you are saying on this, but isn’t that the case with the top level of every great profession? For every famous actor aren’t there 10 billion other people who are working to become one of those? For every professional athlete aren’t there 10 billion other people in foreign leagues or minor leagues? For every musician or band, aren’t there 10 billion other musicians or bands playing local gigs every night? For every CEO, aren’t there thousands of other people in a company? If everyone’s mentality was “There’s only 1 in every million, and I won’t be that one.” than we would never have those “ones”. These stars weren’t born into stardom, they worked for it. They did their hours. People say “lucky breaks”, but we all know “hard work makes luck”. For the most part, these stars busted their asses to get the exposure they have. Just because a janitor does not have a television show does not mean it isn’t important. It means the majority of the american public does not want to watch a TV show about janitors, postal workers, or gas station attendents. I think the real issue here is that a large number of people are weighing the importance of specific jobs based on the media exposure they receive.

    Great article and great read!

    1. “I think the real issue here is that a large number of people are weighing the importance of specific jobs based on the media exposure they receive.”

      I totally agree with you on that. I happen to love my current lowly office job, and most people out there working are doing jobs that need to be done. Even as unglamorous as these positions might be, their skills, however minimal, are needed. It is easy for people to feel their work, and therefore their lives, are unimportant, and that is a true shame.

      1. I do love the post man, but I’m just wondering who is saying their lives are unimportant? I don’t think they’re less important because they don’t have a glamorous job. I would also like to think that the majority of people know the work needs to be done, and appreciate it, although they do not show it in an outward fashion. I guess I am just a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” type of person. It is not anyone elses job to make me feel important for what I do. I choose to do that. I do not feel the need for a random person to stop me and thank me for what I contribute to society. I think the majority of people work to make money, not for praise and thanks. It is nice of course, but I guess my question is why are we assuming that they need that praise and recognition?

      2. Congratulations on FP

        The last two paragraphs do indeed bring your point home well.

        The most famous janitor I can think of is Kris Kristofferson, though his motive wasn’t exactly about creating shiny floors.

        Are all professions equally deserving of some kind of temporary fame? A nice thing about the current age is that if you think you can make your work seem interesting enough you can start your own blog/web site/video blog/podcast/whatever and if people find you interesting, you’ll get your hits…

        I’ve spent a lot of the past five to ten years telling people that fame in and of itself is not a goal, and that the talented are not obligated to share their gifts although they are good at something. I sometimes say that I like my customer service work because I am well suited to it; a retail clerk helping customers is not that much different from performing for an audience, it’s just a different product being sold (and the pay is more steady.)

        Through conversations with others, I’ve come to the conclusion that few are compensated for the true value of their work and so it is important to find work that you enjoy. (The lower the pay and the harder the work, the more you ought to enjoy it.)

        Best wishes

    2. I totally agree! What a great point regarding the subject of hard workers. It does apply to every profession out there. It’s just a few happen to be pointed out and they’re considered as “making it.”

  4. Excellent post! As someone who spent years waiting tables, working as an “administrative assistant”, and being the world’s most cheerful barista, I completely agree. Let’s see a show about secretaries. I would watch that.

    1. I’ve known some amazing waitresses, admins (Hey! I’m one right now!), and baristas – hard working folk all of them. If America will watch “Storage Wars” (which is in fact, quite awesome) I’m sure a show about secretaries can’t be too far behind.

  5. Brillinat post! I too love Anthony Bourdain–how could you not like him? Right? I have a post though that questions all of this food glamour by focusing on the legitimate and deadly hunger I witnessed in Haiti (where I lived for a year following the earthquake). I may come down a bit too hard on the food netwrok in my post–but mine is also a perspective worth considering. I will come back with the link.

    Regardless–I love this post–it’s brilliant–and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    Kathy

  6. Bourdain is my hero! Isn’t it fascinating what the title “Chef” has become? You have to have the passion though. I don’t believe people choose the career path without having a strange affinity for the type of stress that such work brings. It takes a certain kind of person to work in this field, some may say insane…like you, or me! Also, just a heads up for those interested in watching No Reservations, I am sure it is on the Travel Channel.

  7. i have to say that i love learning about strange foods all over the world, but i don’t have a very cultured taste for food. all those chefs on television make beautiful and amazing dishes, but i don’t know if i’d have the guts to try half of them. celebrity janitors would rock…i could get into that.

  8. Great post. As a recording artist and actress, in the beginning I had plenty of days working as a waitress, bartender or caterer just waiting for my big break. At many event I would see other successful people come in and treat people like you and me with disrespect. I agree there needs to be more respect give to the food service industry! It is to this day why any waiter or waitress who serves me in a restaurant feels like they just hit the lottery when I pay my bill…let’s just say I am a generous tipper. Been there, Done that.

    Congrats on being Freshly Served,..oops, I mean Freshly Pressed.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

    1. Thanks for reading! I’ve been told that I over tip, but I think after you’ve worked on the other side you know how much it means to get a little something extra. I appreciate anyone who works in the industry.

  9. You are spot on…I’ve wondered the same (how they make it look so glam). One thing is certain, anybody who is successful in the food industry has well earned it! Keep on diggin’ brother, great job and congrats on being FP’ed, you earned it too!

  10. Recognition is important and I couldn’t help recognizing Bourdain’s birthday suit and his boner. He’s sexier in clothes, but sink his boner in a pot of water and veggies and it’ll make great stock.

  11. Nice post, I love Bourdain.

    I’ve been pining for a reality show about hotel maids lately, I’m sure they at least get a nod in a “dirty jobs” episode or something, but I think hotel workers would make a fascinating reality cast. Any service industry people who are regularly exposed to rich people and their strange antics….

    The restaurant industry is a good one to do a bid in, it definitely gives you some perspective! And my “front of house” background is definitely quite different than “back of house” hourly workers

  12. I appreciated this piece to no end, especially having worked several years in my tender years as a prep and line cook for summer camps, 90-200 people at each meal. There is nothing glorifying about washing huge greasy pans or slicing mounds of potatoes to just the right thickness, but entertainment is to be had, whether by your own mishaps or those of your fellow workers. The only thing that constant made the job worthwhile? The outdoor kitchen set by a rather picturesque river. (now that would make a great show, The River Kitchen… an arrogant, unfrocked chef and his staff has hilarious adventures)
    And yes, I saved enough on that job to buy my first used car. Great piece. – Meredith Greene

  13. Thanks for posting; I enjoyed it.
    And, okay, so I’m not REALLY a foodie, but I do LOVE Tony. I just like the guy because he’s real—you just know that he’s not going to give you a bunch of fluff. Plus, I really like his writing style (and yours, too, Chris!). So much so, that I’ve stood in line to hear him speak twice over the last few months (B&N @ Union Square).
    You know Chris, you have a voice that I’d like to hear/watch on television, too, because I’m all about the underdogs, succeeding and receiving the reconigtion they deserve 😉

  14. “Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s in everyone’s own power to be / feel important. I might just be more glum than most. The feeling of unimportance sways.”

    Trust me man, we all have our days when we feel unimportant and like the world is out to get us. Thank god I have a dog!

  15. Great post and so true Bourdain is not simply the host he is the show. To be honest at first I couldn’t stand him but with time I have become a fan, and perhaps as cynical to many of the same aspects of life as he. Congrats on being pressed!

  16. I think what I would REALLY like to see is a show kind of like Secret Millionaire with Trust Fund Babies. I feel like the celebrity aspect kind of looses it’s appeal because they weren’t born into the jobs they have, so plenty of them have had mundane, low paying jobs. Now, trust fund babies….that’s something different. Born into wealth, best schools, best clothes, best cars, butlers, and more. Take them, send them out to live in a “normal” apartment, and make them work a 9-5. This was time stamped, so don’t steal the idea, lol.

    I liked the post so much, I read it again!

  17. Interesting post, and quite good. As a former janitor who really does not do much more than a janitor would do in my present job (though we prefer custodian, gives us a sense of ownership), I can say that cleaning sh!t off bathroom floors, emptying sanitary napkin cans, mopping square foot after square foot of floor, sanitizing surfaces (janitors are always the easiest to blame for an outbreak of illness), trying to make a decision as to whether or not to dump the garbage bin or change the liner based on what is visible lying on top, etc. etc. etc. would only have entertainment value of the kind of schadenfreude that one gets watching shows like ‘Horders’ or ‘Jersey Shore.’

    The only quibble I have is the very fact that we all judge our worth, and the worth of our present situations, on how famous/rich our job might make us (to which you alluded). I could narrate my life as a mop jockey, whether in my head or on a reality television show, but I don’t think that it would change the reality of being a mop jockey — though that is simply a guess. More importantly than realizing our worth with respect to what we do for a living is realizing our worth with respect to what gives us fulfillment.

  18. I am not a reality show watcher really….Cake Boss and DWTS (the first two years). But Undercover Boss is a really good show that kind of shows the working guy and how the decisions from higher up affect the workers’ ability to perform. Shows that showed day to day life in offices…admins, IT, janitorial, press line, the blue collar guy I think it is jut waht this counrty needs right now…Great post!!! Congrats!

    1. Undercover Boss really does a good job of showing what it’s like for those employees who actually doing the work that make a company money. Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs is another. Thanks for reading!

  19. You really highlight the realities of working in the restaurant industry, compared to the glamarous version TV shows you. It seems like TV or a few celeberities can really make a career path something seem much more appealing than it really is. This is true for actors, chefs, musicians, writiers, doctors and even forensic scientists!!

    BTW…Hell of an excellent post here, man. I couldn’t have written this post like you did. You’re awesome! 😀

  20. I’ve had jobs in my lifetime that I didn’t particularly like, and I suppose a few of them I probably felt were unimportant to me. But, I never ever felt that I was un-important. A job just does not define who you are.

  21. Thanks for posting this! I actually have a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain, even though he’s probably my fathers age. There’s not much about this man that I don’t love. Thanks for the post!

  22. I think the next obvious step in Reality TV is glorification of the Working Class, and the lowest ratings-grabbing “denomination,” the better. We live in a changing society. Especially with the submerging economic status of the US and more manufacturing and customer-service related industries coming home, more people coming into those re-energized fields will become eager for insight and direction. These will be the jobs most people will work for the rest of their lives. Viewers will turn toward television and the Internet, looking for any redemptive or glorifying aspect within a life of numb drudgery. What better than modern day folk heroes like Paul Bunyon or that fictional fellow who dug a tunnel through a mountain faster than a machine built for the task? (replies and clarifications are welcome – someone must know) I bet the next hit television series is equivalent to tall tales at places like Call Centers or Department Stores, in which mythic heroes emerge. They will transcend the ordinary and make impersonal, dehumanizing work environments feel more safe and warm.

  23. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! One thing about some of the jobs mentioned – you do get to make a physical difference in the world – a well-cooked meal, a clean room, and well-installed prefab bookshelves. Sometimes a Zen approach of putting yourself into every task is the best way to cope.

  24. Great post…The Food Network is one of my favorites to. It makes you so hungry & wanting to try cook yourself. Congrats on getting FP too. Great read!

  25. I love No Reservations but haven’t watched since the bride and I gave up cable last year. I wonder what I wonder what would happen if I, my fellow co-workers and all lackey’s alike, would work as hard to reach perfection as those who prep,cook and service their customers in this show? I am a delivery boy and try to be the best I make sure the end user is taking care of . I sleep well at night and love my blue collar job! Great post and Congrats!

  26. I am a Celebrity Receptionist in my own mind – does that count? I feel like I rock it every day with little complaint and sometimes with hardly a Thank You! I can do my 8 to 5 – leave my work at work, which leaves me time to travel and blog – sometimes a win-win! The Only Real Con – is germ control – my area sees some traffic and I am the one who is in charge to keep it clean and safe. Great Post – love Anthony on No Reservations – love watching cooking on TV too.

  27. I’ve always wondered why TV dramas and movies always have to be about people who are the very best at their jobs — the bravest cops, the life-saving-est doctors, the most brilliant lawyers. Are those of us who are not uber-fantastic at our chosen professions less worthy of accolades? Aren’t we the ones who actually keep the world turning, the economy moving? My best friend coached children’s soccer for years and she has always said that she’d far rather have a team full of B players than a team with even one A player on it, because the A players, while fantastic, are far less likely to work with the team than the B players. I’ve participated in a lot of non-profits where there are a few active individuals and a lot of members who just pay their dues and coast, and the few active ones are always complaining bitterly about the coasting ones. But without the coasters, there wouldn’t be an organization for a few people to be active in.

    I guess my point is, I really like your post. Oh, and The Bone is pretty interesting, too.

  28. I totally feel for ya man. I think that if we glamorize one profession, we should glamorize them all, it’s only fair….but who said anything about wanting to be fair…

    Ariel Ceylan

  29. Ok, this was a great post until the end. I prefer my meat “bone” in. However, now that you have given it new meaning, I may never ask for my roast that way again.

  30. I think the article was good and I understand the need for recognition from customers and employers, it kind of make the hard, tedious slog worthwhile,more than just keeping a roof over ones head. The fact that those jobs are underpaid as well as tedious really does make a compliment seem such a big thing. So keep the compliments coming folks for all those cleaners, waiters, bus boys, taxi drivers, janitors, panscrubbers, kitchen porters , shop assistants(the ones who smile) and all the rest too numerous to mention, of course a wee pay rise would also help, would definately show appreciation from the employers (chuckle)

  31. I was curious as to what the title meant and so, I ended up reading your article. I often used to watch Food Network and Cooking Channel. I’m not much of a cook, nor do I love food, but I enjoy watching how it is made. It was never interesting to me until I saw it in a different light. Anthony Bourdain happens to be one of those “lights” and you are totally correct when you say they, Food Network and such, “have turned a regular, minimum wage profession into something desirable”.
    Another point you have made, I would also like to agree with. It is truly important to show appreciation even just through saying a simple thank you. I am not a part of the working society yet, but I can understand how uplifting a few words can be for anyone.
    I live near a school where a woman works as a crossing guard. I seldom see her, but when I do, I always make sure to tell her how much I appreciate what she does. Many people younger than me don’t realize how important her work is. It may be a “small” job, but it is important nonetheless. I guess fairness, as some have said, should be applied, but as long as people know how to appreciate works of others, limelight is unnecessary.
    I might have rambled on. Also, I very much appreciated your article.

  32. I like the post! I’ve been doing ‘the job’ for most of my adult life. It has taken me half-way around the world and for my sins I still get a kick out of well prepared, well presented food! Is that some kind of a record? (Not quite the same as Bing Crosby singing White Christmas but hey!) My bugbear is the erosion of the trade by some of the so-called ‘celebrity chefs’ who stand in front of television cameras and just talk tripe! It gets right up my nose. Most of them wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of surviving in a working kitchen without their assistants or lackeys in attendance to take the flak! There is no ‘second take’ in a working situation. If it goes horribly wrong on first attempt, somebody must carry the can! Usually down to the nearest employment office!

  33. Tell me about it, I was a janitor for a year and did ALL the grunt work and was only ever told what more needed to be done, never thanked! Hopefully some of the higher ups will have read your post and thought more about the way they treat the people lower on the ladder! 🙂 Oh and I am 100% with charlywalker, I think I’m scarred for life now….

  34. Great Post! I’ve been the cleaner, bar back, waitress, prep cook, bartender, flower planter, garden herb picker, manager, and much much more at restaurants. You just don’t get paid what you sould! Here Here on your point! Well done

  35. Celebrating all professions would be a fine thing indeed. Some people are very ignorant about the different kinds of work that exist, and about how difficult some of them are.

  36. You’ve hit a nerve!

    My new book is about what it’s like to work retail, and I’ve been getting grateful emails almost daily for the past month from associates everywhere, thanking me for giving those hard, low-wage jobs respect and dignity. I agree with you that most really appreciate a simple “Thanks!” One of my customers even wrote a letter to management praising me; it meant a lot and I include it in the book.

    http://malledthebook.com/

  37. Great post. I’ve been working as a retail cashier for a bit over a year (on this stretch, at least), and I’ve also been a stock monkey, and theatre tech minion. All can be very rough and thankless jobs. I’ve been trying for the past couple years to land a regular job as a librarian or library/publishing minion. More low-wage work dealing with an often-ungrateful public, I know, but what’s a dedicated book nerd to do?

  38. You have some er…arresting images. I totally agree with you on the glamorization of working in restaurants and the cheffy profession. My father was a cook his whole working life in Chinese restaurants in Ontario. Not glamorous. At least the last place he worked, the workers could own shares in the restaurant. Not that it netted him much or anything at all.

    I also have a brother-in-law who entered into the cooking ranks mid-life probably due to glamorization of kitchen work. He’s had his share of jobs primarily in high-end restaurants (Toronto). My dearie’s son is becoming a known lead chef at a Jamie Oliver like restaurant that teaches hard to employ folks restaurant work. He gets to design the menu, etc. which is precisely what any cook/chef wants to do ..if they have the cooking skills. He is VERY lucky –it’s a job paid by municipal govn’t and hence, he gets benefits! You know what that means.

    It’s hard work to …deal with finicky palates, etc. But it is a job. Nothing wrong with that.

  39. Thanks for sharing this POV. It’s so true– there wasn’t any glamour to the food/chef business until the Food Network and Monsieur Bourdain made it look so cool. I never felt cool (pun absolutely intended when I worked the grill at lunch time or spent more than half the hours of the day pulling pate a choux from the oven) when I worked in kitchens. The biggest reason I didn’t go to culinary school was that I was afraid the chef would make me cry. Gordon Ramsay has thoroughly affirmed this fear and made me thankful to be sitting on my bum with a computer between me and the world. So again, thank you, and here’s to a new reality show on janitors, plumbers and hotel maids…after all, they’ve already got one on truckers, right?

  40. I liked your article and I agree on your basic premise that some jobs have been glorified, but I think you blur the difference between “having a profession” and “doing a job”. I’m not sure I agree, but I gather you’re almost saying cooking is just a job (at some point), but then you refer to it (and other occupations) using the term (disrespected) “professions” as if it were a blanket term (“Should the other disrespected professions demand for a cameraman to follow them around?” in reference to “postal workers … the janitors, trash men, gas station attendants, toll takers, drug store clerks, receptionists, ticket takers, and street sweepers”). Being a postal worker, janitor, etc are not professions. They are jobs, and perhaps occupations because you occupy your time doing what ever it is that puts bread on your table.

    In retrospect, maybe being a cook is just a job, but (what I think what you’re trying to get at is that) Anthony Bourdain has turned a job into a career, and a multifaceted one –at that– doing television and authoring books. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Good for Anthony! Now if that street sweeper can think of a way to monotize in on his or her job as a television “host” and author of books, well then … I’d welcome him or her products, and I’d like to see such shows and books.

    The existence and support of a street sweeping television network would help.

  41. By the way. Nice pics. How did you go about getting them? Any politics on the property rights? I sometimes want to use more pics but shy away on account of author’s rights, although the concept of Fair Use allows for low grade images.

  42. i like cooking shows too they are far better than other reality shows. Apart from learning new dishes you also get to learn about cultures and traditions of different places.

  43. I agree with you. Media shouldn’t put a new face on the profession of a chef. It is hard work and dedication, not some person who can beat out others on tv. I enjoy food porn but to me, new shows like Masterchef etc are just disgraceful to the culinary world in some sense.

  44. Great post. I think the chef has become a cultural figure as food is an area of cross-cultural interest and therefore great for TV. Previously it was things like Cops, Doctors, Nurses etc.

    The Office in the UK was probably the first time a major attempt was made to portray life in a mundane run of he mill office, but apart from that, yes other ‘ordinary’ jobs receive very little attention.

    The call centre is one. I’m trying to change that with my blog if you want to come take a look!

  45. What do you think of chinese food? I wonder why most of foreigners are stronger taller than chinese. It’s the problem of the food or blood relationship?

  46. Awesome job here Chris! I like what you said here – about ordinary people wanting to be appreciated for even the simplest thing about their jobs. Everybody works so hard just to be able to attain at least a little bit of comfort in their lives, and well, what better comfort is there than a smile or an utter of “thank you” from a customer served, even with or without a tip, after a long day at work. I guess each one of us is worth being appreciated, no matter what our jobs are. We all don’t need to be in the limelight all the time, but to be noticed and appreciated at least once in a while is all it takes to make us believe and to remind us that we are doing something right and noble in this world. An expression of appreciation is just what we need to get us through what we do everyday. 🙂

  47. Great post. As a chef for the past 30 years – from the days when one was “merely a cook” – Anthony Bourdain is the only “celebrity” chef worth the time of day. Unfortunately, even though the Food Network did much to raise perception it quickly became just another “reality TV network” (meaning unreality). Most of the “chefs,” s/a Rachel Ray, are simply decent looking actors playing at the profession. Shows s/a Iron Chef and Hell’s Kitchen are totally absurd and damaging to the profession. It is hard work with the average Executive Chef – top of the heap – making less than $60K a year and most for-profit culinary schools simply a rip-off. I take exception to only one point you make. A chef is never a “retired chef.” Leaving 14-hour days/6 days a week kitchen work to segue into TV and food writing still requires one’s chef skills. I know, I made that transition 3 years ago, and I am a very satisfied full-time freelance travel/food writer.

  48. Great post. I stumbled upon this from the front page. Quick note: the possessive form of its doesn’t have an apostrophe to identify possession like you indicated. I spent years writing before anyone mentioned that to me, so I felt a need to pay it forward. Keep writing, amigo!

  49. I agree. JFC, it’s just food. It’s not that hard to make a decent meal, and eating is the most banal of activities, after sleep.
    (Now let’s got to Toscanini’s for some burnt caramel ice cream.)

  50. Anthony earned his chops. I am an ex cook too, who am I kidding? I still cook in a kitchen, just in a more commercial one that has mandatory breaks and no overtime. Those are things that I never dreamed of in years past. When I first started at my current job, I didn’t even know what to do with a 15 minute break. The idea of going in at a given time and getting out 8 hours later was INSANE. I guess I sold out, but the cook’s lifestyle is so difficult, and I truly think that Mr. Bourdain really worked his ass off to get where he did. In Chef years, he worked a lifetime before he got the chance to kick off his clogs and do his fancy travel show.

    1. Very true, Anthony Bourdain deserves much respect – as do all the cooks, busboys, bartenders, food runners, and the like in every industry. Sounds like you have a pretty sweet kitchen schedule, congrats on that. Being given mandatory breaks rather than sneaking away for a few minutes sounds awesome.

  51. I cannot even begin to say how much I agree with this post. What a fresh way to say things. We as a culture focus so much on status and celebrity…we forget to tout the accomplishments of the littler heroes without whom we cannot function.

    I am a writer, or at least aspire to be one, and I have once contemplated writing a novel or short story with a janitor as the protagonist. Somebody has to tell their stories.

    Feel free to check out what works I have so far at my new blog http://shelleddreams.wordpress.com/

    I look forward to seeing more from you, and integrating your ideas into my work.

    1. The show is amazing and they do a great job of showcasing some amazing talent, but there are a lot of folks in a restaurant, or in society, doing awesome stuff as well. Thanks for reading.

  52. I like the naked ladies and the author P.O.V…you seem to be a decent human. I would like to know more. Have you ever slept on the hood of a car or watched Hawaii Five-0 at a Massachussetts rest area?????Scott Shields said this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *