The longer chefs work in the restaurant business, the more they tend to repeat the same things over and over.
Most of us entered the food business because we loved everything about food. We loved to eat out, we loved to eat at friends’ homes, we loved to shop for food. Most of all, we loved to cook. We cooked food our mothers cooked, we cooked food our mothers never heard of, we cooked food that we had never heard of.
But the longer we are in this business, the more we tend to get in a rut. We cook the same food over and over and over and over. We cook it in the same way again and again and again and again.
Want to know if you are in a rut? Take the following test. Circle each item that you have done within the last since months. Be honest.
In the last six months, have you:
- Cooked a food that you have never made before?
- Eaten a cuisine that you have never tried before?
- Driven more than 100 miles to go to one of your favorite restaurants?
- Gone to eat at a restaurant where you have never eaten before?
- Cooked with elbow macaroni, Spam or non-steel-cut oatmeal?
- Made fried chicken at home?
- Cooked for chef friends at your home?
- Made a picnic and enjoyed it outdoors with a special person or your family?
- Shopped at a farmer’s market and bought something you haven’t cooked in years?
- Spontaneously stopped at a farm stand on the side of the road?
- Gone to a winery to taste wine—not for selling in your restaurant, but just to try something new?
- Hired someone who wasn’t a relative of one of your current staff?
- Hired someone to give him or her a second chance in life?
- Volunteered to teach for a day at a local elementary or high school, cook at a church or work at a food bank or soup kitchen?
- Volunteered to teach a day or more at a vocational program or local community college to share your skill and experience?
- Taken a young culinarian on as an extern to give him or her some hands-on experience?
- Baked snickerdoodles, coconut macaroons or peanut butter cookies?
- Cooked over an open charcoal or wood fire?
- Made bread from scratch?
- Cooked food solely for the purpose of making someone happy?
Okay, time to score your quiz. For each item you have circled give yourself 5 points, and add up the total.
If you score was 65 or under you had better get a steam shovel and dig yourself out. You are in a deep rut and need to get your motivational mojo back immediately.
If your score was 70, 75 or 80 you are in a rut, but you only need a regular shovel to dig yourself out.
If you scored 85, 90 or 95, congratulations, you are still enjoying your profession. Keep it going!
If you scored 100 you need to start writing blogs for Restaurant Hospitality. You have a gift for excitement and adventure that is sought by other members of our field.