The hell of working in a restaurant kitchen
WILLOUGHBY Cooke explains why celebrity chefs stop working in kitchens:
[My] career has spanned eleven years, during which I’ve worked as a prep cook, fry cook, pantry cook, grill cook, pastry chef, and baker. The least I’ve made was $7.50 per hour; the most was $13.50. To be a line cook and eventually a chef you must submit to the hell that is the professional kitchen: long hours, low pay, no breaks, no respect. As you advance up the line, the work gets harder and the responsibility increases while the pay does not. An entry level line cook job starts at as low as $8 an hour and tops out at around $15. (In 2011, the national median wage for line cooks was $10.61, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
I thought about being a chef. Then I saw a mate who worked at the Belvedere in London pull a wet toilet roll – an entire roll on the cardboard spool – from his pants. This was to prevent “chef’s arse”. He did wash his gnarled hands in the sink of our crappy rented flat…
Image: The Gentleman’s Clubs of London – The Constitutional Club – 1932; Cooks at the ovens in the kitchens of the Constitutional Club.