“At 19 I had my first executive chef job at Palm Beach’s oldest restaurant. The house specialty was strawberry pie filling dumped out of a #10 can into a rude lard crust.” So goes an absolutely crackling read over on Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine narrated by a former chef.

Without either woe-is-me drama or rose-tinted romanticism, Marianne Miller tells the story of cooking professionally as it so often is: brutal, exhausting, draining, and perhaps most important, alcohol-soaked.

At the climax of her career reflection, she writes:

“Not once did it occur to me that it wasn’t normal for a 125 lb. woman to drink a total of two bottles of wine and still function, or that when injured to not seek medical help, or that a 70-hour workweek could be anything but self-destructive.”

If you’ve read Kitchen Confidential, you’ve peeked behind the curtain; if you’ve cooked professionally, you’ve felt some or all of the pain. But for clarity and focus, this short essay deserves kudos. It’s concentrated stuff and a worthy meditation for anyone in, formerly of, or considering entering the professional kitchen.

Image source: Flickr member Visit Hillsborough under Creative Commons

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