I’ve only been in business for a year, so how am I in a position to propose a title that promises such sage advice? I just pay attention to the smaller voices in my mind and allow the democratic process to give them a vote also.
The food business is a romantic one. It carries with it a mystique that draws the dreamer to be foolish enough to consider owning one. But when reality hits, the dreamer has a choice to make; either cut the rope and sail away, or stay in and try to tough it out.
If the first is your choice, you don’t have much to worry about. Just move on to something easier and less risky. But remember if this is your option, anything of value has an equivalent price tag attached, so don’t complain if you hate your next line of work.
If you pick the alternative and stay with it, you have another set of choices from which to settle on. These I know very well because I face them on a regular basis. As I describe them, I would bet you might face them in your line of work also.
When you put your heart and soul into your vocation, you set yourself into a vulnerable predicament. And there probably is no other profession that exposes you so openly than making food for other people to take into their bodies and receive pleasure in doing so. I can think of another profession that does something similar, even though it is considered the oldest profession, it does appear to be illegal, so I won’t focus on that right now.
You cannot care deeply about something without risking getting hurt. Everyday, when I open my doors and trust my staff to take our values and put them into play, I expose myself to the possibility of something not going quite right, of an order not being on time or an improperly seasoned dish that gets sent back. When the comment comes in the negative form, I have to ask myself, “Will I take it to heart or will I callous myself from it.” The former is called wise, the latter is called cynical, and cynicism is the fastest way to kill any passionate pursuit.
Show me a cynical person and I will show you a wounded individual. You are not found cynical if you didn’t care about something at one time. The cynic has lost heart and has allowed those wounds to define him.
Before I opened bread&cup, I applied at a few restaurants to try and gain a little experience during the waiting period. I interviewed with one chef who sarcastically asked me why the hell I wanted to get into the restaurant business and inquired if I had any idea how hard it was. I told him that I wanted in for the very reasons he has seemed to have forgotten. Needless to say I didn’t get the job.
Yes, food is a hard business, but I can’t forget the ideals that drew me to it. Just like a good marriage, the tingle of romance might give way to the added pressures of life, but those pressures need not define the relationship. It takes both a vision and hard work to see the dream come true.