Nice boy from Jersey wants to be a CHEF!
In 1979 the only thing in the world I wanted to do was to be a Chef. I was 14 years old and I had a goal, that by the time I was 25 years old, I would be an Executive Chef of a restaurant.
What was I thinking?
I got a job in a bakery in Verona New Jersey as an apprentice baker. On my first day, my teacher "Joey" brought me around to meet all of the other bakers. First up was Dave. He worked the night shift, 7 days a week and was always coated in flour and jelly, (maybe he liked it that way) or maybe the flour and jelly coating just masked his body odor. Boy was it funky. I honestly do not know if he ever bathed. (Things were much different back then). Every morning Dave would leave at 7 am all dressed up in the same suit and top hat. He preached during the day, and barely slept.
Oh, Sal, we called him "Sally Boy". He was the bread baker from Sicily and spoke about 3 words of english. His bread was amazing and he always wore a white v-neck t-shirt as he baked bread and had a razor blade connected to a long stick in his teeth. No, it was not cause he wanted to cut someone, but to score the bread, just before it went into the oven.
The steam from the ovens could melt your skin off, but Sally Boy was always sticking his hands in and out of the oven.
Sam, the Cake decorator gave me my first dose a aggressive behavior in the food service industry. Joe brought me into the cake decorating room and Sam was working away on a 5 tier wedding cake. The smells of sugar and flour an vanilla had me so excited. Joe tells Sam that I am the new apprentice and that I someday want to be a chef. Sam shakes my hand, smiles and then flips out......
He starts saying, "what are you, a f_____g idiot? Why would anyone want to work in this crazy business. He went on for 5 minutes, spit flying out of his mouth, veins popping in his forehead and hands trembling. I think Sam had decorated one too many cakes.
I have thought about that screaming episode may times over the last 30 years and understand what he was really trying to say. 18 hour work days, working on holidays, sweating, grueling pressure, aggressive behavior, anger, perfection.
It is a tough business, but I have to say, if I were to do it all over again, I would .........
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