That Chef life, Holiday edition.

“How is your job stressful? All you do is cook all day.”


There’s tons of blogs out there that encompass Chef life. This particular post, is one of the few that I can actually get behind (with a few exceptions to some points he made, mostly because I am a woman and my lifestyle is a little different).

However, like most blogs, they’re very flowery and such because they’re bloggers. Then there’s me, I just occasionally vomit out words for the world to see.

You know, like now.

Explaining Chef life to a non industry person is tough. In general, there’s too much BS comparison period. How often do you see someone saying that they’re tired for whatever reason and someone will fire back something like “you don’t have kids, you have no idea what tired is” “When I did such a such a job, I did this.” “You just need to be more organized and everything will be fine”.

Just stop.


Criticizing someone/anyone for the life that live is just wrong and people need to shut their mouths. We’re all different, we all function differently and no one can relate or be empathetic or sympathetic to the life you live, unless they themselves share some similarities, even then, we all handle things differently. It’s great that you have a handle on your life, however it’s terribly unrealistic and rude to expect anyone to do as you would do when they’re not you.

When did life become such a pissing contest?

Anyway- Chef’s/Cooks fall into their own category, we kind of live in our own secluded world that most people have no real understanding about how it functions unless they themselves are also a Chef or an industry professional. Which is really, really frustrating when you try and explain it to outsiders. It’s a consuming career, you miss out on a lot of things because you can’t have a ‘normal’ life like most people. Chef life is rarely a 9-5, M-F kind of job.

I genuinely like my job and the people I work with (yes really) but let me tell you, the past few weeks (months?) have been nuts. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on in order to make your event happen. So I tend to get a little frustrated when people who have no right/business criticizing me about how I spend my time, why my organizational skills suck, why my memory is so bad or why haven’t I seen you, why is there no food in the house, why isn’t my Christmas shopping done yet, how come I don’t have any clean socks and more…

Here’s the thing, when the season is in a upswing, your time is no longer your own. You might go from working a few days a week to working weeks straight with maybe one day off in between. Those days that you spend at work can be anywhere from 8-12-15 hours a shot.

It’s exhausting.

  • Being a Sous Chef means that you are responsible for every single thing that goes on in your kitchen. It doesn’t matter who messed up what, it’s your problem period. Why? Because it’s your kitchen and you are responsible for overseeing everything that goes on. Every. Single. Thing. That’s why you’re there. Someone dumped a body in your fridge? Your problem. Light bulb breaks? That’s on you. Sauce doesn’t taste right? Didn’t double check that you have everything that you need? One of your cooks duct taped someone to the ceiling? That’s on you. You need to be five steps ahead always.
  • Perfection matters. You have to know the taste and consistency of everything that you serve and it can’t leave your kitchen until it’s spot on period. If it’s not on point, you best be discovering that far enough in advance so that you can fix it, or in some cases start over before service starts. Otherwise your service will be a train wreck.
  • You’re in charge of your team. While you’re doing your own thing, you have to stay on top of everyone else to make sure that they’re doing their job too and doing it well.
  • Failure is not an option. Chef hired you because they felt you were the right person for the job. You are representing them, their name and their reputation. Not yours. Clients aren’t going to contact you to complain, they don’t know who you are. That needs to be respected and treated with care.
  • Free time is scarce and very precious. Working in the industry means that your free time is extra precious and usually very random. While most people get Sat/Sun off, your weekend is most like Monday/Tuesday.
  • We don’t have time for you. This sounds incredibly rude, however, it’s not personal. I have had two days off in three weeks. Getting more than 5 hours of sleep is a rarity. Forget about eating at home, you usually don’t have time because sleep becomes more important. Food is something that is usually grabbed en route to work because you take the bus and need to multi-task. When time off actually happens after working that much, you have to play catch up on all those things that you neglected. So when someone says oh so and so has three days off this week, they also likely neglected to mention the two weeks worth of laundry that you have sitting there, the dishes that your husband kindly started and forgot to finish. The Christmas gifts that you so smartly started buying in June (yes I do my shopping that early) except now you don’t know where they all are because your house is a disaster and you can’t remember your own name, let alone where you put all the presents. Then you have to find the time to get the one’s that you couldn’t buy early or online. So that eats up an entire day because you have to go all over the city and take the bus/metro to do it. Gifts which also need to be wrapped, as soon as you find them because you’ve had your hands full since early November and haven’t had the time. Only to discover that one of the things you bought needs a replacement battery that you don’t have time to buy so then you have to run out and get them something else that night close to home because your gifts are being dropped off the next day. All the while fighting fatigue and a cold that’s creeping in and making you feel like crap. On top of trying to find the time to pack because you’re leaving for the holidays and you have no clean clothes. This would all be easier if we had a housekeeper, a dishwasher and a car. Except we don’t and all of those things eat into precious hours of the day because you have to make more time for that too. So it’s not that we don’t think you’re not important (because you are), it’s just that there’s other things that need to get done and sometimes they simply can not wait. We’re not being ‘selfish’ out of want, sometimes it’s a necessity.
  • We’re hard enough on ourselves, we don’t need your help. Chef’s tend to be perfectionists. Cooking is our baby, our pride and joy. Criticizing how we do things when you have no idea what we do is not OK. The only person I take criticism from is my boss. He knows his stuff and it’s constructive and helpful to me and my career. Which is something that I can respect. From other people? Not so much. Your opinion on my life and how I choose to do things is invalid. You do you however you see fit, please don’t expect me to do/be/react the same.
  • We don’t want to cook for you on our days off. Another one for the ‘it’s not personal’ category. Cooking for pleasure is something that I am rarely in the mood for. However, when I am in the mood for such things, than it truly is a treat so please cherish it because it’s a rarity.
  • No one cares that you’re having a bad day. This is a tough industry, not everyone can deal with it. We all have bad/off days, it’s not an excuse for not coming in or not being on top of your game. Work is work, home is home and you’re best to check your scene at the door. If you can’t handle that, then maybe being in this industry is not for you.
  • Know your place. Kitchens have a pecking order that needs to be respected. Don’t ever second guess or talk back to your Chef (even if they’re wrong or you don’t agree). No one gives a shit about your precious ego, except for you. So being a smart mouth to the Chef/sous Chef is likely to result in some form of backlash. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
  • Holidays and other special events fall to the wayside. I’m very fortunate to have a job that shuts down for two glorious weeks for the holidays. However, the time leading up to those two weeks is complete and utter chaos. So time with the people who truly matter to you most likely won’t happen. Same thing with your birthday or any other special occasion. That’s when we’re usually the busiest and taking the time off isn’t usually a viable option, no matter how much we love you.
  • You have it easier because you’re [insert job title here]: Nope. Being in charge means that our time is more valuable, therefore we have a greater responsibility to the person we work for/under. Sure, we get paid a little more, but we’re also expected to do more. Which is only right. We don’t ‘get away’ with stuff/have it easier than anyone else because we’re management. We’re entrusted and responsible for the bigger tasks. We’ve done our time, it’s how we got to where we are now. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do ‘lesser’ tasks, at the end of the day, shit needs to get done no matter who does it. Someday, you’ll get there too if you want it bad enough.

So you see, we do more than just cook all day. Thankfully I love what I do and I enjoy where I work and the people I work with and for.

I wouldn’t change a thing.



I committed career suicide.


I’ll admit it, I’ve gotten really spoiled the past few years with a nice cushy culinary job.

I earned it. 

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the culinary industry is very egocentric and God help your sorry ass if you have a vagina and are *gasp* better at something than some guy on your line.  It’s also very, very sexist.  Growing up and pursuing this particular art form was nothing short of a hellish nightmare.  I was constantly told that I would never make it as a Chef.

Except I did.  I even wrote my own damn cook book too.  Because I am AWESOME. 

I have spent the last 4.5 years in a upscale, private daycare.  On June 13th 2014 I was unceremoniously fired for reasons I can not currently discuss in a public forum.

So I did what any self respecting Chef would do.  Dusted off my CV (which is a work of art) and hit the ground running looking for work.  There is no shortage of restaurants in this lovely city and generally at any point I found myself without a job I always found one within a week or two.  Usually within in a few days.  When you work in a restaurant, jobs as a line cook are plentiful.  As are other higher ranked opportunities (such as Chef de partie, sous chef and so forth).

That is until you work in a daycare for almost five years…

That right there?  That’s what you call career suicide.

I have lost count of how many CV’s I have sent out.  I have, to be fair gotten my fair share of call backs as well.  Which is great until you show up for the interview and they compliment you on how ballin your CV is, but then when it gets to your qualifications and experience, it’s like they never read the fucking thing!?!  It’s pretty clear that I haven’t worked on a line in almost five years and I’m straight up about that too.

Oh and I can’t forget the times that I have been either scheduled for a job trial and/or an interview only to show up and be told that the position has been filled.  Because clearly calling me as a courtesy is too taxing for you.


So I finally caught a break.

Or so I thought. 

I accepted a job at a not to be disclosed location and all of a sudden I became the most popular person ever!  My phone was going INSANE with interviews and job offers.  I have one place BEGGING me to come there.  Except I had committed to one and I told the others that I would get back to them.

Well the really nice, high paying sous chef job required me to be more bilingual than I am and that made me sad because I couldn’t accept it in the end.  Another job trial was in a production kitchen but the kitchen manager was a giant douche bag and I knew the minute I laid eyes on him, it wasn’t going to work out.  I was right.  Which was fine actually because holy shit listening to CJAD all day and cutting vegetables? zzzzzzzzzzz  Yeah I would have done it for now because well bills and stuff.  I could go on and on but needless to say, it just wasn’t working out.  It’s basically been what’s stated above, lather, rinse, repeat.
I need a few days to settle in somewhere and get organized.  The first few shifts for me are always clumsy and awkward but you team that up with not being in that environment for so long?

You’re fucked.

Metaphorically it’s like this: It’s like an old friend you’ve known for years and years and all of a sudden you don’t talk for 4.5 years.  Then you get reunited.  Which is great, it’s familiar but a lot has changed too.  So you need to spend time playing catch up with this person.

Except no one can afford to give you that time, or you’re not French speaking enough or lacking your papers or a car and the list goes on and on.

So I took the last option I had handed to me, they’re really nice people, gorgeous restaurant and then as we were setting up to open I noticed that there was 4 different types of meat on the counter.  I put my hand on them thinking that they had just been pulled out of the fridge.  Nope.


Oh hell no.

So.  So much for that place.  Back to the grind I go, more interviews, more of the oh, you’ve been out of restaurants for a while.  Yeah this isn’t going to work out (Again, read my f’ing CV jackass).

Yet I didn’t give up, that is until yesterday.  I had a training shift schedule at a place that I thought would be a good re-introduction back into a line.  I was flat out honest about where I stood, how long it had been since I had worked on a line and blah blah blah.  He didn’t care, thanked me for being honest and I thought OK cool it’ll do for now.   I was asked to be there at 5pm and I waited and I waited until 5:30 and that’s when I left.  Because if you can’t be bothered to be there on time or at least make the effort to call me or your restaurant, that says a lot of things about you and they’re not nice.

I had one last interview today.  It was more of the same, but I got points for being honest.  No real loss there, the place is an hour away.  *Note to self, no more jobs in the mile end.

So that being said, i’m moving onto to other things I’ve had in the works for a few weeks.  Just need to finalize some details first.



This is what I’ve been up to lately.

Click on the first image to be taken to the gallery.  Then you’ll have the previous/next options for optimal viewing.

Stuff that matters:

Please spread this post like it’s herpes!

The one planet project. Check it out and educate yourself. Learning is important.

The Brian Gillman family This one is a little closer to home for me.  I didn’t know Brian so much as I knew of him. He is however a dear friend of Barry. Barry being the founder of Anatometal, (where Brian also worked) is someone that I not only love/adore and respect but I also consider him one amazing friend as well.  The one thing I love about modified culture is loyalty and Barry has certainly earned it.  So that being said, my heart hurts. Not only for Barry, for Brian’s family that was left behind including his two young children Indigo & Violet.  I knew the soul sucking heartache that I had when I found out about Jason, it was the first time that I had ever had to bury a friend and it rocked me to the core of a soul I didn’t even know that I had.  I can not imagine having to go through such a traumatic loss as a child.  Barry has set up an account for Brian’s children.  Anatometal will match every single donation dollar for dollar.

Which I think is amazing.

When I get paid, i’ll be doing my part and making a donation on behalf of myself and NAYOP as well.  I can’t do much, but I can at the very least do this.  If you work in the modification industry and want to help out, here’s a flier that you can download and print out to be posted in your establishment:







On a final note of things that are important: The school that I work at, along with my company Stuff by Chef Steph (along with countless others) are supporting together is amazing.  As I posted on my facebook page: “One thing I’ve noticed is how generous people are around Christmas when it comes to helping the less fortunate. What about now? Food banks are running on empty and as a Chef, I can’t let anyone starve. It goes against everything I stand for.  It could be you who needs these services someday. Think about it!”  The bottom line is this: someday you could be low on tangible income, unable to feed yourself or your family.  It can happen to anyone, at anytime.  If this was you and you needed these services, you would be pretty damn grateful for the kindness of others.  Also? It’s a really easy way to give back to your community.  Caroline wanted to point out this: At the bottom of the page, there is a video, for every view, Shaw will Donate 1$ and Campbell’s Canada will donate 1 pound of food to local Food Banks, up to $250,000 and 250,000 pounds.

So get off your ass and do something good for someone, somewhere. Pay it forward day should be everyday.