The other night I watched a bit of one of those cooking game shows. It was one of those shows hosted by a panel of so-called celebrity chefs, in which home cooks subject themselves to a great deal of humiliation in their quest for a piece of the celebrity chef action.
It got me thinking that the restaurant game must be pretty tough work when some of the best in the business jump at the chance to become game show hosts instead of spending their energy doing restaurant work. On this particular show, the host judges seem way out of place trying to cobble together the game show, even with the assistance of aggressive editing, a tight formula an plenty of dramatic music.
I have never worked in the restaurant business. As someone who enjoys cooking I can see why some people would be drawn to doing it at a high level. At the same time I can see that being a line cook must be a very difficult, hot and nasty gig, and being a chef must be a management gig above all else.
This reminds me of a discussion with a working musician a number of years ago. She had played in various orchestras and was respected as a strong player. It turned out she disliked doing the orchestra work and eventually she stopped doing it altogether. Even though she was a top rate player, she found no room for creativity in her job. She had to play out somebody else’s interpretation of the music and she was frustrated doing it the same way every time. She had to sit in the same spot each performance and simply execute time and again.
Perhaps for the celebrity chef it is simply a chance to lever some experience and expertise to get out of the game. I’m sure the television money is great, and for those chefs doing high-level management of a number of restaurants, the publicity might add to the bottom line. Still, when I watched this show, I felt bad for these guys who seemed to be fish out of water.