We hear it all the time. You’re a chef, why don’t you cook at home? To the rest of the world, it makes perfect sense. As chefs, we have the uncanny ability to take elementary ingredients and magically transform them into delectable dishes. So, why wouldn’t we perform these same magic tricks for ourselves at home?
Truth, is most of us are exhausted by the time we come home. We’re surrounded by food all day, but we never actually sit down and eat anything. Rather, we snack and munch all day remaining consistently on the move. By the time we leave the kitchen and arrive home we’re beat, grumpy, and intensely famished. The last thing we wish to do in the comfort of our own home is waste another twenty minutes whipping up a ‘crowd pleaser.’ Instead, we’ll settle for picking up some Sheetz on the way home or eating the leftover pizza from Sunday night.
Our diets are the epitome of ironic. Every shift we literally build cuisine from scratch. Dicing vegetables, organizing our mes en plas, layering flavors, and applying the final accent to a particular dish; the process is repeated numerous times during the day and then again at more feverous tempo during the dinner rush. Yes, our culinary experience makes this appear relatively simple, but it is still work.
Our minds never truly leave the kitchen. Most of us are thinking about ways we could have improved a particular dish, handled the rush better, or how to reinvent the current menu. Our sanctuary is our home – our fortress of solitude away from the relentless fury of the kitchen. After a ten hour day the last thing we want to do is the repeat the process of building dinner from scratch. Instead, we’ll settle for a beer and a cheeseburger. It’s quick, simple, and most importantly stress-free.
Non-restaurant workers often overlook the luxuries of their schedules. Most arrive home from work at a reasonable hour and are able to recover relatively quickly. I’m not saying their jobs are less demanding, but having the routine 9-5 or even most of the evening hours off, allow for a person to fully settle in. By the time that after-work stress escapes your body and mind, it is likely approaching the late evening hours. This allows a person to rest, relax, and essentially crawl into bed like a ‘normal’ person fully recovered and ready to start the next day.
Most of us chefs do not have that luxury. By the time our bodies and mind actually calm down we’re staring at a clock reading 3a.m. We work extremely long and typically very late hours. Our jobs are significantly more taxing than most and by the time we leave work most places are closed. Even if we wanted to hit the gym for a post-work exercise romp, we need to make sure there is a 24-hour gym in close proximity. However, more than likely there’s a pub with grub a shade closer to home than the gym. So, we’d much rather stroll on into the pub, grab a nice cheeseburger, and settle down before heading home.
After all, by the time we get home the only thing we want to do is check our chef-mentality at the door. Cooking is work – we just want to be able to escape from our cubicle just like everyone else. Just like the rest of the working world, when we come home we want nothing more than to kick off our shoes and relax in the living room; so, please do not judge us when we don’t rush into the kitchen and fire up the stove. We just want to feel normal for a change – even if that means the simplicity of devouring a Big Mac on our couch.