— From a piece I wrote, published today, looking at the New York restaurant industry 2+ weeks after Sandy hit.
I kinda-sorta spaced out last night at a food-based fundraiser. I’m still new to the whole New Media thing, so I’m not exactly comfortable attending events like that. Until some other New Media friends got there, I was on my own. And since I’m no good at mingling, I just wandered, ate and drank a little.
And yeah, I spaced out and ended up watching a noteworthy local chef cook for about 10-15 minutes, just staring. I’m sure it creeped him out. I found myself on the wrong side of his table, on the cooking side, not the serving side. On the serving side, the dishes are pretty and the foodies are oohing and ahhing*. On the cooking side, shit gets real.
I had this thought: Cooking, as a profession, is a shitty and gritty endeavor. The whole celebrity chef-driven, fancy-pants obsession with food (of which I am a key player, I admit) is, in the end, quite superficial. On Chopped or whatever, the cooking competitions are exciting, sexy, intense, but ultimately (and purely) they’re just entertainment. That’s not what it’s really like. The reality of the thing, when you’re sweating your ass off over an open flame, working with hot-fucking-oil, trying to feed 1500 do-gooders who showed up to the fundraiser to
hob-nob with celebrity chefs support the kids, is that it’s really quite unglamorous. But maybe that’s where the glamor comes from.
Take all this with a grain of salt, though. I haven’t actually cooked in a kitchen in years, and even then I was no good at it. I also recognize that many, if not most, of foodie types have worked in the service industry, and that’s a good thing.
*Spell check recognizes “oohing” but not “ahhing.” Really, spell check?