So You Want to Be a Chef?

By Justin Johnson
Delightful hideous “Stunt Cake” designed by MATC Culinary Arts student Dora Guevara, El Rey Family Market, Milwaukee.


Thighs chafe; sweat drips
Unexpectedly busy service
New guy on the line
“Why are you starting the scallops and filet at the
same time?”
Magazine photoshoot, newspaper interview,
TV demo
Back to work
Wine pairing dinner next week; menu needs to be
Food rep is waiting in the lobby
“We’re out of salmon!”
Sous Chef is over-prepping tonight’s wedding
“Why are you making so much pasta?”
Rep is still waiting
“Chef, I still need that menu costed”
A server yells, “Luis just called in sick”
Damnit! Who’s going to work the pasta station?
You are
Chop, dice, mince
You look like death
Throw some water on your face and
put on a new coat
The other one’s full of splatters sweat stains
On the pasta station, shift into friendly funny
Flirt with bridesmaids
Joke with groomsmen
Oil, meat, veg, pasta, sauce, repeat
In the restaurant, a table is angry. No one told
them we were out of salmon
“We want to see the chef”
“Let me create something special just for you”
Whitefish, something, something, wild rice,
greens, coulis—looks good—send it
More pasta
Service slows
“I hate Maroon 5”
Wedding guests, drunk. Restaurant patrons,
Eyes are twitching. Stomach is moaning
You haven’t eaten since yesterday
Huddle around what’s left of wedding hors
Stuff your face with crusty, congealed apps
Punch out. Head home
“I’ll pick up the salmon, cost out that menu, return
those emails and call that rep”

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