Empty Kitchens and Uncertain Futures in a Post Covid-19 World

I always joked that our kind danced on the razor’s edge of insolvency, what with our low pay, long hours, high burn out rate, poor life expectancy for chef-owned businesses and semi-transient mercenary workforce. Chef’s and their kitchens have always been at the mercy of a lot of financial factors, any of which could sink any restaurant pretty handily no matter how well-managed.

Now that precautionary measures relating to the fast-moving and deadly covid-19 virus has effectively shut down all restaurant traffic in North America we as a society are witnessing just how fragile our hospitality industry is. In a single week hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters have been put out of work as states and provinces outlaw sit-down service in favour of take-out just to keep people indoors and away from one another. It’s some serious end of the world stuff and as you can probably imagine I don’t make those razor’s edge jokes like I used to.

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Kami In The Kitchen

“Friends, let us join together here in the pits of sweltering madness where we cast our bodies and unheard voices into the void of fire and toil. Look upon the wasted works of our brother and pray that his clearly overcooked roast has a slightly pinkish interior so that bits of this beautiful and costly beast haven’t completely gone to waste. Oh Kitchen Gods!  Please bless our ovens so they may produce another piece in a most timely manner… Because if that doesn’t work, I don’t know what the f@%$k we’re going to do.” 


– Prayers To The Kitchen Gods 3:32 

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Love The Life: How To Stay Sane In The Culinary Industry

It was a night like so many others:  A hurricane of twittering servers running to and fro, The Clash blaring from the prep area, orders billowing like Tibetan prayer flags on the line and the hungry ghosts of a hundred tables whispering in my ear that they’re food’s taking too damn long to…

“Y’know, I’m really thinking about taking the Culinary Arts Course at the college… This feels right. I’ve already learned a lot already and I really like this place.” I overhear one of my prep boys debating his future over in no-man’s land and I automatically shout back, “You’re too damn smart for this industry! Go be an undersea wielder or whatever the hell makes more money!”

Everybody has a laugh and goes back to business but as I dug out another plateful of mashed potatoes I hear my own words ringing in my head. It was the same stuff I’d heard before and been told a million times by other, usually older cooks. Now I was the “lifer” on the line: The grizzled old man chiding the younger guys to get out fast and find a better path to fame and fortune far away from the hard slog of kitchen life. (more…)

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Kitchen Redux

Kitchen Reno1Sometimes you live with something for so long that you think it’s part of the landscape, and accept a massive inconvenience as part of life, ‘cause it’s always been that way.

Then someone with clear vision and a head full of good ideas walks up and gives you a smack… Someone like Lisa:

“Wake up! Your kitchen is tiny! You can’t wash pots in your sink! How do you ever cook anything in here? You… Have… No… Counter… Space.” (more…)

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