My conversation with Mario was pretty enlightening. It reminds me of when I was younger and all I had to do is cook. No real responsibilities other than having fun, learning, and growing. My path was much more self-destructive early on mainly because I did not have anyone to kick me in the ass when I got off course. I worked my ass off and partied just as hard. When I was at work though it was all about work. I took the shit seriously as I knew it was my path in life and I was having fun doing it. I have no regrets as every decision made in my past has put me where I am today. Life is good now, but it sure as hell wasn’t easy for a long time.
For Mario - his journey has been full of challenges because he put them there. Not roadblocks but opportunities to learn, grow and find his place in the culinary world. He first cut his teeth at Bar Boulud and is now cooking at a 3 Michelin star restaurant. 5 years before that he was at a gastropub in Denton Texas. Goals kept his mind focused while he continues to learn.
Mentors, Accountability Partners,
Find a mentor or at the very least a battle buddy to help check you back into place. When finding someone to hold you accountable make sure they are not your drinking buddy as well. It will not help either of you if you are on the same path. Tell your chef and sous as well - let them know whats going on and your intentions, let them help challenge you as well. Trust me, they will see that as a new level of commitment from you and will start holding you to a higher standard.
Where will you be in 5 years? 10 years? Honestly - no idea and any answer you have is nothing more than wild hair. Truth is, as you learn and grow new doors open. Doors you never knew existed are now opportunities that will change the path you thought was what you wanted. Start setting simple short term goals now as well as goals every years. The short term goals should be very attainable like reading a cookbook every month, having your mise ready to go 15 minutes faster, consistently, at the end of 30 days… Goals that are more about making you smarter, faster, stronger are the best short term goals. 1 year goals should be lofty and different than your short term… If you read a book a month than a 1 year goal to read 12 books is just cheating yourself. Do not short change yourself, be real but challenge yourself. If you are a line cook the likelihood of you taking over and being the exec. Chef by the end of the year probably isn't going to happen.
Tools of the Trade
5” Small Offset Spatula/Turner at JB Prince
Slotted Fish Spatula - I use this one for everything myself
Cake Tester - For testing doneness and texture for everything but cakes
The Flavor Bible
Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
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