In the wake of #metoo, I started to reflect into my own journey as a chef and the torment, abuse and betrayal I have witnessed and experienced in this industry. I’m never surprised by the lack of individuals wanting to pursue or remain in this gruelling profession. Why would you?
There was something peculiar to the archetype of chefs working between 1960-2009. They were raised by the baby boomers, who inherited their own demise from the great depression, of the insecurity of the cold war, of war wounds and trauma. A generation who unconsciously passed down their own vile of shit to an innocent generation of kids who became abusers from being the abused. This became foundation of the modern day kitchen.
What is seemingly absurd became the cultural norm and most of us even began to embrace this misogynistic, stressful, abusive and dangerous culture. We wore these experiences like a badge of honour — as though one cannot become a chef until he or she has been raked across a burning pile of coals. Some of us bragged about the experience of working 16-20 hours a day, in an environment of abuse, championing our success by having gone through these working conditions for years if not decades.
Combine this with the egotistical rat race towards fame and stardom that exists especially with the destructive capacity of the internet. We as a culture became so desensitized that we no longer saw each other as fellow human beings. I am hopefully the last generation to have witnessed this psychopathic industry.
Younger generations are now often labelled as lazy or entitled. But what is happening in this generation is not because we are lazy or entitled, it is because we have broken the cycle of abuse and have re-discovered our own worthiness as human beings.
I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to break this abusive cycle.
The arrival of my son contributed to the scope of my awareness toward compassion and love. Not the kind of love we are too often sold on but the kind of love that is devoid of any expectations and conditions. The kind of love that is without limitation.
I have never cooked more freely than I do now. I cook with intention and with joy. Cooking never felt this liberating. I’m now free from the burden of having to acquire acceptance and validation.