14 Crappy Reasons

It’s common knowledge in the restaurant business that there are more than one million ways for a restaurant to lose money. At any given time, there are only three ways to make money -and those three ways are constantly changing.  My purpose, the raison d'etre for these musings, is to remind you about the stuff that you already know about – but sometimes forget because you have so many frigg’n things on those frigg’n lists that you keep on paper or in your head.   

There are always two or twelve more things that need doing and twenty or twenty thousand more dollars that need to be spent.  This is our life: but often the big picture gets lost.  Why are we here in this food establishment slicing and dicing and cleaning and heating and cooling?  Let’s make a list of why we do it and why we got into doing this. 

1.    To find fame and fortune as a television chef and to win special favors from adoring fans.

2.    It was this “or jail.”

3.    To make money (fat chance).

4.    Because we want to work holidays.  We hate holidays.

5.    We want to work weekends.  We hate weekends.

6.    We want to work all the time; it beats hanging around with spoiled little brats.

7.    We like working in small confines in high temperatures, with never enough counter space.

8.    We’ve always been good at losing money anyway …so, what the heck.

9.    Our friends told us that we make a mean fried chicken.

10.  Our mother told us that we were a good cook.

11.  Our mother was a good cook.

12.  Neither of our parents could cook.

13.  We had a crush on Julia Child.

14.  We had a crush on Emeril Lagasse.

I interviewed 40 or 50 food professionals and these are the fourteen most common reasons for becoming a chef (cook) and/or getting into the food business.  These reasons for getting into the industry don’t make us bad people; but they don’t make us good restaurateurs. 

When it comes down to it, is it really important why and how we got to where we are?  Where we are going: that’s what is most important.  The next guest in the dining room, the next meal that leaves the kitchen; these are important: these decide who we are and determine how the world perceives us. 

So we’ve got long lists and big problems, but all we can deal with next is that next customer, one at a time, one plate at a time. 

ü  Constant improvement – we are doing a better job today than we were last week

ü  Do the right thing – for the customer, for the employees, for yourself – if you wouldn’t eat it – don’t send it

ü  Enjoy doing it, whatever it is  – it’s not so important why or what got us here – but right now we have two choices:

1.    We can enjoy doing what we are doing

2.    We can refuse to enjoy doing it

I choose number one.   

You know all this stuff …yeah, but sometimes you forget it, so just smile and get back to cooking some more frigg’n peas.


The past is a cancelled check; the future is a promissory note: all we really have is now.              ---anon

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