(Warning, story contains actual chef language containing both fowl and foul words some may find offensive and shit.)
Here we are embarking on another “holidays” season. Up here in the NorthEast its shrinkage weather. In the morning, I open the front door and if there is immediate shrinkage, I know to dress in full winter weather regalia. Soon after Thanksgiving festivities have come to a trytophanic end, the Turducken Football OD is over, and Alice’s Restaurant has played on the radio, its time for the annual MMA Shopping event Black Friday. That can only mean its time for chefs everywhere to prepare for December. Radios everywhere will play the same tired songs they have for the last 200 years, stores and malls open extra hours for extended full contact shopping, and we make lists of who we need to tip, who we need to get booze for, and who to buy gift cards and presents for. One of the worst examples of our inhumanity in this time of supposed brotherhood is the perpetual argument over how to greet each other. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas chef, Happy Kwanza chef, So how’s your Hanukah going chef, hey chef, cheers, happy holidays.
Christmastime, Kwanza Season, Hanukah, Holiday season, Winter Wonderland, Noel, No Hell, give it whatever name you want but to a chef its more of a suicide/homicide countdown. It takes all of what’s left of our strength to not kill ourselves, or half the staff working for us. In the prime of my career December was the darkest most evil time imaginable. The December Kitchen wears a hockey mask to cover a misshaped face full of scars and zombie eyes, has hand of metal serrated spikes, carrying machetes, axes, and chainsaws. December cheffing frightens the hell out of any seasoned or marinated chef while sucking the life blood out of all the kitchen workers all over the country. While others argue and bicker over whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays a chefs answer would be about 20 decibels higher and sound more like, CALL IT WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT YOU JINGLE FUCKING BELL LAME ASS MENORAH LIGHTING LIMP DICK HALL DECKING KWANZA DANCING SANTA FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT AND PICK UP TABLE 15 NOW!!!
Yea that’s right, while party revelers are getting drunk, having affairs, doing lines in the bathrooms, and being absurdly ridiculous because of the intake of massive quantities of alcohol, the chef is screaming at the perceived incompetence of workers who are actually stressed and stretched beyond human limits due to the massive pile of work assaulting them. In between his vociferous beration of anyone in sight the chef is sweating and working his ass off. Every morning we need to go to the ass store to buy a new ass to replace the one we broke the night before. So many holiday parties and so little time to get them done in!
The month of December is indeed physically taxing which is bad enough, but it is also super hard on the chef’s family. Communication is reduced to post it notes and telegrams to and from the spouse, swatting at the kids like they’re flies when they jump on the bed and interrupt your one and a half hours of sleep you‘re alloted, and calling Mom and Dad just so you can catch a nap on the phone while they catch you up on the latest afflictions and maladies they suffer from. “So Pops, how’s your arthritis been lately?…..zzzzzzzz. You learn to sleep in the shower during the rinse and repeat cycle of shampooing, you grab your clothes and hope they match because your eyes aren’t open enough to see them, and you eat standing up so you don’t have to take the time to digest. Let gravity work on the digesting, chef’s have more important things to do.
If your lucky like me you get to take mass transit where you can catch a long nap. But beware, often a nap will last four stops past your destination setting your day back before it even begins. Or you may wake up from a nap in a panic and get off thinking your past your stop only to find out you still have six more stops before departing. Or maybe you ease into a decent sleep only to be startled awake because a jolt of fear split your head open thinking you may have forgot to order that 100 pounds of shrimp for tonight that was ordered last minute yesterday. And yes…every one of those scenarios has happened to me at least once while December cheffing.
I don’t want to make it sound too grim, there is a bit of a perk. Everyone and their mother wants to let you know how much they appreciate your cooking so they bring you alcohol (or whatever may be your pleasure). But even that can be a negative perk at times. Like when someone sends a glass of wine to the chef in the middle of service because they’re partying and feeling really good, and generous. Of course the wait staff neglect to tell the patron that the chef is a bit off balance because others have already sent in shots, beers, and drinks from other happy patrons knowing full well the chef is burnt out and at the mercy of not having the will power to say NO THANKS to a bit of happy juice! Instead, its pond this shit down and get back to the heat of the heartless oven.
Yes my friends, December cheffing can really shred ones world apart but thankfully it only lasts until the final push of the year, new Years Eve. That’s the night chefs get to hear every non working person in the world shout in drunken stupors “Happy New Year!!!” while the chef silently says to themselves, Fuck YOU! So this year, while you are out partying and carousing and carrying on all over town celebrating whatever the hell it is you call it, take a few minutes out and thank a chef for all the sacrifices of cheffing in December….Peace