Amanda Cohen’s Sage Advice On Becoming A Professional Chef: ‘Don’t’
There’s something glorious about being a notorious vegetable chef, isn’t there? All those glowing reviews from Pete Wells, all the books you get to sell, all the pride of being a female chef running a successful restaurant kitchen and telling the male haters to suck it. Gosh, being a professional chef sounds like the best life ever, except for the part where Amanda Cohen — the woman we just described — smacks you back to reality with the warning: being a professional chef sucks.
In a blog post on Dirt Candy’s website, Cohen goes into a very, very, very, very long list of reasons that one should not become a professional chef. Most chefs can tell you that getting to her level requires infinite patience, lower expectations, hard work, and a lack of ego — but only Cohen has a test for you before you even consider trying to talk your way into a kitchen:
First, go into your kitchen. Put a giant pot of boiling water on the stove and stand in front of it for eight hours. Occasionally stab yourself in the hand with a sharp knife. Find a right-wing radio show, the more rabid the better, and turn it up to ear-splitting volume. Pretend that when they are yelling at the president they are actually yelling at you. Imagine that each insult is very personally directed at your stupid face. Try not to cry. When the eight hours are up, imagine that this is every day of your life and ask yourself if you still want to be a chef. Yes? Then congratulations! You are exactly the kind of masochist who is ready to cook in a professional kitchen!
Notably, Cohen believes that the loudmouth jerks inevitably drawn to the restaurant industry are the worst cooks. “Kitchens attract bullies because they’ve read Kitchen Confidential too many times or they think the Gordon Ramsay they see on TV is the real Gordon Ramsay,” she wrote, remembering one particular tormentor of hers from years past. “It’s a joy to weed them out. Because bullies are wimps.”
How does she know all these wise things? Her “spirit animal” told her so.