The Dark Humor of the Kitchen: How Chefs and Cooks Use Comedy to Cope

It’s Sunday brunch, you’re hungover. You were just here closing mere hours ago. Clammy palms, flop sweat, your mouth dry and feels like a rabbit came and fucked your face in, what little sleep you got. Suddenly Biddy Biddy Bom Bom comes on and even though chef is losing his mind, calling everyone and everything every vulgar and unprofessional thing he can think of…everything is right in the world. Yeah you got a stack of tickets with all sorts of idiotic requests and modifiers, but life ain’t so bad. Some guy who trekked his way from El Salvador hands you a stack of freshly washed pans, see…that guy has it rough, fuck all that. You burn yourself god knows how many times, small cuts on your hands feel like barbed wire every time you grab that sanitized towel, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.

As the shift rolls down and tickets slowly stop trickling in, you’re trying to clean as best you can for the next guy who’s working the dinner shift. You just want to stroll out the back door and head straight to the bar. “Are you there Jagger? It’s me Dusty”. It’s just about the only way you know how to calm your nerves and settle down after hours of non-stop shitcannery.

Just as your walking out, questioning your sanity, a voice yells “Hey Gringo!” you turn and look, there in all his glory is your fry cook, apron up near his eyes, just begging you to look at his crotch. You oblige, of course, shaking your head. He yells out, “you so gay!”. That’s your Sunday. It’s that moment of jackassery that reminds you why you do it. The comradery of getting your ass kicked with a bunch of other people and for whatever reason, you all keep coming back for more. You thrive on it. It’s the stupid inside jokes that no one else will EVER understand. No matter how many time you try to explain it to a “normo”, they just don’t get it.

Though I’m not in the kitchen any longer, burnt out long ago, I miss it terribly from time to time. It’s strange to think why, I shouldn’t miss the 70 hour weeks…the lack of any real vacation for years on end…a crumbled and distorted social life… but I do. At least I miss “those days”. I don’t think it’s quite the way it was anymore. People actually take care of their employees, they care about feelings and your personal life away from work. A concept that is completely foreign to me. All I know is I miss the humor of the kitchen the most. It kept my sanity all those years, what little of it there was/is. So this one goes out to you egg cook guy, on a fuck all, Becky, Chad and the gang all go out for mimosas on Sunday at 11 am. May your burners stay lit, may your eggs not stick and may chef have mercy on you for once. (he wont). I’ll be having Jagger for ya and if I see you around I’ll be sure to slide one your way… and don’t worry, I won’t ask how work was.

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