I’ve paved my way since high school to be in the food and beverage industry. For a short while which seemed liked forever I thought I had my whole life figured out. I had been confident and determined to be able to achieve all my career goals. When the pandemic hit and everything began to shut down like many of my friends and colleagues I was unemployed and eventually devastated when I heard the restaurant I worked for permanently closed its doors.
There is an insane amount of joy that comes from being able to give others an incredible experience and be able to host them for the few hours they have entrusted with you. Regardless of those beautiful moments, as many know working in restaurants is not easy or glamourous. You’re on your feet all day, it exposes you to open opinions from strangers whom look down on you or blatantly disrespect you and, of course, restaurants/companies that severely underpay and under appreciate their staff. The pandemic truly unleashed the structural and core issues of the food and beverage world and as amazing as the progress has been we have yet to scratch the surface. I would be lying on here if I didn’t constantly think of pivoting to a different sector of the industry or leaving everything behind to try something brand new.
So why am I still working in a restaurant? Honestly, I repeatedly ask myself the same thing, why am I doing this? My reasons change constantly, my mind is fluid and I have allowed myself the freedom to never restrict my why. First and foremost, I love food and as important as that may be if that was the only reason it would irresponsible for me to continue on this career. In all selfishness, I am incredibly curious and want to grow. I want to be managed and pushed under those whom I respect and have an undeniable passion for the food industry. I do not seek restaurants with accolades, but my curiosity has naturally led me to be under those who have been awarded and loved by their peers and guests. I want to learn from their achievements but most importantly their mistakes, the things we will never see if we don’t actively seek out. I want to learn what happens behind the scenes where there are disagreements but somehow the most beautiful events and smiling faces are the result. Lastly, it is difficult to find employers who are willing to give their energy or care enough to see your growth. If you are able to find that level of care, love, and mentorship there really isn‘t anything more rewarding for your career.
No matter how tempting it was to leave restaurants, I lacked the courage to as I knew that the restaurants remaining will be serving a completely different level of creativity, intensity, and the people whom I would be working with would have that same energy and passion. I am truly blessed to be working for a restaurant that has acknowledged the flaws of our industry and wishes to be the change they would like to see. Are my days and nights easy? No, however, the amount of growth and knowledge I have gained are immensely greater than I could have imagined.
I am proud of those who have decided to stay, leave, and still pursuing. Line Cook Thoughts is here to listen to your stories and struggles. Help us to become the change we want to see in our industry. We are here for you.