I am getting married this summer, and I am a chef. There, I said it. I recently came across an article on Huffington Post titled "so you think you want to marry a chef." I was obviously intrigued. I though to myself, "I will send this to my fiance and it should be a fun conversation afterward." Needless to say, I was a little turned off post reading. Only one thing came to mind after learning how awful it is for that individual...these are all choices.
I have been a chef for over ten years and in "the business" nearly 25. I always said that restaurant folks are a strange breed of people. And I stick by that characterization. We are a bunch of weirdo misfits who reject the "normal" way of life. We work hard and usually play much much harder. But, only the ones who can find the balance can be the most successful. If you can't, you'll burn out, and you'll burn out fast. I have seen it and it's sad and sometimes tragic. But, perhaps our most important trait is that we are passionate. We take great pride in making other peoples lives better, even if just for a moment. Parts of the article were true, like the long hours, weekends and holidays. And, I did agree that most of our lives are not glamorous. However much of the authors complaints were about the choices that her and her spouse have made.
For example, having to much equipment and cookbooks in the house. Come on, this is an easy fix. Not providing your spouse with recipes or even cooking some meals ahead of time if you know you will be working late on weekends is just cold man. I cook 5-6 nights a week at home. And when I do, I make extra so she can take it to work the next day for lunch. I'll be honest, sometimes I just can't do it. I have been known to just refuse to cook. Then either my fiance will whip up a salad and a pasta dish or we go out. Together.
I think it does a disservice to chefs writing an article warning others about marrying or even dating a chef. I did some more research. I googled "marrying a chef" and was shocked by what I found. Most of the articles were warnings about getting involved with a chef. Where are the articles about getting involved with opinionated, clingy, self-centered, whiny people. If you don't like something in your life, only you have the ability to change it. Be the change. Or have the conversation with your loved one about how to make life work for you both. As I am sure your chef spouse knows, communication is the most important part of a happy kitchen, and a happy life.
I will admit that I am lucky to have a chef position where I only work about 50 hours a week. But I busted my ass to achieve that. There is an unfortunate machismo in the chef world about long hours. My first big restaurant job I had 82 hours of overtime on my first check. OVERTIME. I thought that was badass and it gained me instant respect. And there were a lot of hours unaccounted for because we would be asked to punch out and work a few hours off the clock and be paid in beer or food. Today, I would never ask an employee to work that much. I sometimes insist that people take a day off or go home early. And I work for them if they need a day off. It's about quality of life. That is rare. (pun intended) But over the years I have learned that it is ok to go home. Hire good people who you trust and everything will be fine. The choice is yours.