I must sound like a broken record by now, but I only know what I know and feel how I feel. At 50 years old it’s been a great run for me. Living the “Chefs Life” has been everything and then some. Before it was cool and trendy to be a Chef, I cooked because I loved to cook. Kitchens were my sanctuary from life; it was the place that I felt the most comfortable. Despite the sometimes extreme conditions, long hours and relatively low pay, I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 12-14 hour days would and do still fly by at the speed of light, a sure sign that I am doing what I should be doing. 30 years later I am still as much in love with the industry as the first day that I walked into a kitchen. I really don’t think it could have turned out any better than this. I have enjoyed the food, my friends, and travel and, of course, being able to make people happy through my cooking.
That being said I will say that it’s very disturbing to me that most cooks and chefs don’t ever feel the way I feel. They feel no joy coming into work and have never have come to terms with their career choice; resentment runs deep about working off-hours for mediocre wages and prime time spent away from family. Few are willing to pay the price and make the sacrifices necessary to climb the culinary ladder. Their future in the industry is questionable. As much as they may say that they love kitchen work, the truth is, it doesn’t come naturally to them.
If you want to live the “Chefs Life”, do what you do best. It doesn’t matter what type of kitchen you work in, four stars or fast-food, it's all about the passion and commitment to excellence that you put into it. There is a market for all types of food, chefs and service. You have to pick your venue and make it the best it can be. If you’re any good, money and prestige will follow. If it doesn’t and you are doing it for the right reason, who cares?