Mini cheesecakes. Mini fucking cheesecakes … for 300. I swore if I had to make them one more time, I was going to lose it… and I did. I broke down, which is exactly what everyone expects to see a female chef do – show weakness. As a female chef, everything you do is a test.
The first cheesecake incident was one of the hardest times I have had in the kitchen. Chef Michael Langdon, my mentor, has molded me into the chef I am today. He turned the shit show that I was back then into motivation by doing this:
Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a chef. From cooking with my grandma, picking raspberries from her backyard, and turning them into jelly to cooking Sunday dinner and holidays, my grandma is the reason I am a chef today. She is the type of home cook who can turn a bunch of random ingredients into something amazing – pretty badass, which makes her my culinary idol.
Culinary school was a struggle for me. I didn’t get the full support I needed from my family, but I did it anyway. I never graduated, either, and I am not ashamed to say that. I started my internship anyway, and I never went back. This allowed me to get the hands-on experience you don’t always get in culinary school.
Being a young female chef, fresh in the industry, is never going to be easy. Being surrounded by men all day is tough, and I have basically become one. Every other word out of my mouth is fuck, along with a variety of raunchy comments thanks to my fellow chefs … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not just anyone can become a chef. Everyone loves to hear that I am a chef, but they find it insane. There are times I think to myself, “Why am I fucking doing this? Why did I think it was a good idea to talk my colleagues into making a replica gingerbread house? WHY?”
Passion, drive, and the motivation to be one of the best female chefs in the industry one day are all reasons as to why I do it. Maybe because I love the challenge, and secretly deep down inside, I love being the only female in the kitchen. I fucking love it. I love what I do. It’s hard… it’s really hard, but it’s worth it. Pulling an all-nighter to make a badass gingerbread house with some really hard-working people who love what they do just as much as me, taking a quick powernap on the couch in the lobby, challenging ourselves together, learning together, growing together.
The relationships you develop with these people is like a family. We’re together every day, for hours on end. On holidays, they are who I have family meal with. Chef is the Dad and the leader, Eric is the older brother who picks on you, and I am the younger sister who bears the brunt of it, only because I am the youngest, smallest, and least experienced. Most of the time I deserve anything that gets thrown my way. That’s mostly how it’s going to be in any tight-knit kitchen. They see you at your best and at your worst, and will bust your balls for it. But it’s always what you need to hear. Some people will call it abuse, I call it tough love – and tough love is what makes anyone survive, not only in the kitchen, but in every aspect of the life you live.
I’ve wanted to quit many times. There was one time I actually made the call and said that I didn’t want to be a chef anymore. That was my breaking point. I had enough. I fucked up. It was my fault, and I deserved to be screamed at the way I had been. If I quit, I would have just let everyone win. I would have just let myself down, and everyone who had ever believed in me. I do this for me, and no one else. I plan on being one of the best female chefs in the industry one day, and quitting now is not an option.
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