My wife's been asking me the same question for years . It's not the money(although i've made some good $$ at times), the hours or the benefits for sure.
It's a primal, gut, thing that drives most of us-as opposed to that cook thats just there to collect a paycheck. The benefits are mostly intangible; knowing you brunoised that bell pepper perfectly, sauteed that correctly, grilled to proper temp, etc...and plated out the best dish you can. The smile and the thanks from a guest is the greatest benefit of all.
I wasn't going to respond at first because Kat, Kuan and Dano made excellent points that almost say it all. But, as I was flipping back to the forum a thought flashed across my mind and in an instant I relived every moment I ever had in a kitchen and the thought that flashed was this: It may well be that simple. :chef:
An instructor I had in cooking school said you have to be a bit of a weirdo to go into cooking. You work when everyone else is off, It's high pressure, not especially lucrative and really hard work. You have to really love cooking and need to do it or you're not going to be happy.
We moan, we think that we are being taken for granted, we hate the hours.
But the truth of the matter is we love our job!
I've tried other jobs and hated them so I'm straight back in the kitchen again!
I think it's a case of can't live with it, but can't live without it
How many people can say they love their job! I can!!
We all love our jobs, but that's no excuse to work to death... literally. The need to beat ourselves to death "for the love of our vocation" is a myth. Bad backs, smoking, failed relationships, bunions, hypertension, and a whole slew of other stress related maladies. That's just bogus. No way I say. We need to stop keeping quiet demand better. You can't just suck up a heart attack or a herniated disk.
I agree. I'm sure some, if not all, of us have suffered some or all of the above!
I personally have suffered three of the above!
I'm not sure why we put up with it, but until that glorious day when we all get together and say enough is enough then nothing will change. In our occupation one voice is not enough! We can be replaced because in all too many circumstances the restaurant has the good reputation, although we build it we are not normally credited for it!
I am one of the lucky ones I'm happy truly happy. But it has taken a lot of moves and a lot of effort! But if there was ever a day when there was a chef's strike. I would down my tools, not for me but for anyone who will follow into the trade. I remember those days all so well, overworked, underpaid and with not so much as a thanks at the end.
Other people get rich off us my friend!
Kuan, I agree, but in this industry with such a small profit margin, what owner is going to hire another, sous chef so that we can all work 40-50 hour weeks? That is unless you want to take a pay cut or we up the prices on our menus. I just don't see it happening.
The major benefit is if you are a good line cook/prep cook you can work anywhere . So you can live wherever you want.The pay can be low, the working conditions can be archaic,benefits are sometimes nil, but if you thrive in an envirement of sometimes minute to minute challenges then get on board.It can be realy tough on the body , mind and soul so do not seek this venture light heartedly.Being a chef is more like a way of life than it is a job. Peace, Doug...........
Read up on Abraham Maslow. Most of the rewards are at the self-actualization, intrinsic rewards level.
We do it because there's nothing else we can do that gives us the intrinsic satisfaction. Because there is nothing so satisfying as giving sustenance (physical and emotional) to others. Selfish? You bet! but we feed people, which is more that arbitragers could even say.