by Melissa Lupo
Chef life is a lifestyle, probably not the one you’re thinking of.
Chef life isn’t a job but a lifestyle. More than the hours, the physical work, the wins, the losses, and the #cheflife hashtag, it’s an understanding. Every chef has a different style and each belongs to a different tribe but there are some things inherent to the job that can’t be escaped. Earning your stripes, or living through your gavetta, is all a part of the experience of living and becoming a chef.
From service staff to front and center.
Until open kitchens became popular, chefs had historically been relegated to the depths of the kitchen. Along with the other service staff, the chaos and opera of it all was hidden from diners’ view. With the advent of celebrity chef shows and social media, the general public took a stronger interest in of how their dinner was prepared. This led to an interest then in the chefs themselves.
Social media brought to light new perspectives and new definitions of chef life. Previously if you weren’t in the industry, they’re things you may not have known. With a simple hashtag, platforms like Instagram and TikTok give space and a voice to niche topics. In this way, niche topics often then become part of the general conversation.
Depending on where (and who) you are, it’s going to be different.
Depending on what kind of kitchen you work in, where, and with whom, the definition of chef life can change a lot. Celebrity chefs, professional chefs, cooks, stages, immigrants, men and women, LGBTQ, young and seasoned, all have different days ahead of them. In and out of the kitchen, chef life could extend from the farm to the basement, to the markets. It could be in a massive hotel kitchen, or be cramped on a boat. What unites all of them together is that they have all chosen to take on chef life. What sets them apart are the unique dynamics each has to face.
Some challenges of chef life are being re-examined.
With food being one of the most searched topics, it seems natural that there is an interest in the people who work with it. After all, chefs are humans like any of us. As a result, new conversations are happening about chef life. Issues are being brought to light that were previously overlooked or just considered “part of the job”. Discussions about mental health, equality, technology, and sustainability are now being brought to the surface and re-examined. As the world gets smaller, our perspective grows. And as long as we continue to discuss and include new voices, our definition of chef life will keep evolving.