#5 You Get A Whole Nother Family and more…

Expos, Xavier, Nelson, Reuben, Pedro, Chato, Student, pastry cook Mimi @ Citrus

Kitchen crews really do become an extended family. The very nature of a shift in the kitchen promotes this. You cannot survive (happily) without the team working together. For that matter–if people are late, grumpy or otherwise messed up it can screw the whole lot.  But we cover for each other–no questions asked. We care for each other. We worry about each other. We even do heinous things for each other. Things you wouldn’t even ask a relative to do. Including but not limited to: bailing folks out of jail, holding hair out-of-the-way when you barf in the bushes(thanks Reuben), provide an alibi whenever necessary, give rides to the airport, pick people up in snow storms(Miguel you rule), house sitting, dog sitting (thanks Jordan), babysitting. Need I say more? Whatever needs to happen–we are down for each other. Like a real family.


There is always the “baby” of the family that gets abused. Commonly called “my bitch” as in “WHERE is my bitch?” by everyone. Could be the newest member of the team or just the youngest. This fellow gets constantly harassed, man handled and made fun of just like a real sibling–with love. Baguette to the back of the head, pants pulled down to the knees, any sippy cups or baby spoons left behind by guests are put promptly on their station to uproars of laughter.

Then there are the old timers. Cooks that have been doing it (right) since the dawn of time. Solid as rocks and super stealth–they get mountains of work done without even really moving around. These guys (usually called Grandpa) have a wealth of stories, stations tricks and can deliver a searing towel snap you will never forget. A little like a mean old Clint Eastwood “make my day” you don’t wanna mess with an old-timer.

Cookies and his set up

Crews get close. So close that when you leave a kitchen it feels like a divorce. An emotional breakup. These guys that you have poured your heart and soul out with on the line, shared life’s goofy moments with, are just gone. Funny thing is, when you join a new crew–you move on quickly. Preoccupied with being the new “baby” you have to concentrate on covering your ass!

The retarded cousin or step child is there too. Usually a creepy dude who you can depend on to scare the hostesses with one simple grin. This guy will always come thru in tight situations but never excel. Unusually quirky — maybe a facial tick or a lisp — these characters usually have lots of sick jokes and make you want to wash after you shake their hand.

Then there are the middle children that hold it all together. They are the even tempered workhorses. Accurate, calm and friendly. Usually embarrassed by their crass and dirty siblings. High achievers but soft spoken.

And the only children. The drama queens. There is always something wrong. A crisis. Someone’s always stealing their shit or a conspiracy to make them look bad is definitely in the works. Paranoid!! They freak out a lot when things get busy. Need lots of praise and recognition. But worth it all because they usually have a talent for food, comedy or a way with the ladies that keeps everyone entertained.

Juan, Porfirio, Pascual, Blancas

Sous Chefs get to be Mom &/or Dad. The enforcers of rules and the controllers of chaos. Chefs generally just try to keep everyone safe and sane. The voice of reason. Directing the flow of work and keeping the team up and focused mentally. Creating food is the easy part. Believe me.

I have scored some amazing life long friends & family from restaurants. Real friends. The kind you never get tired of.  Heroic boyfriends come to mind too.  Able to screw till dawn after burley long shifts.  Dinner rush still pumping through our bodies.  No cuddling here people. A tangle of sweat/grease soaked sheets and “wait–is that a–fish scale in your ear?!?”  True superhero sex.  A semi violent exchange. This cook on cook action was like starving all night and then hitting an all you can eat/all night buffet.  A food fight of body parts “take that fucker”-splat! A barrage of retorts (between kisses) for the nights hijinks. Good, good dirty fun. Through it all I even managed to snag a half-decent husband 🙂 –the son of a fish monger when I met him. For all of them, I am forever grateful.


~ by abmccune on May 23, 2010.

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