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Chef, Let go of that Eggo!

Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your "self." If you say someone has "a big ego," then you are saying he is too full of himself.

Poor ego, it gets such a bad rap, being so often confused with "megalomania" and "vanity" and all kinds of other nasty things, but strictly speaking it is only a psychological term popularized by Freud meaning the conscious (as opposed to the unconscious) mind, or the awareness of one's own identity and existence. Nothing wrong in that, is there?

or is there...

A new ranking of jobs by the self-assessed skill level of the holder confirms what restaurateurs have known since the invention of fire: The biggest egos under their roof tend to be the ones in the kitchen.

Chefs and head cooks scored highest among employees who are peculiar to the restaurant business at No. 7, just above bartenders and just below plant and system operators.

But they seem like buckets of opportunity compared to the personal chef, who topped the list compiled by PayScale, a company that advises clients on what to pay their employees. The report ascribed a Big Ego score of 74% to private cooks, compared with a 72% rating for CEOs and a 65% rating for art directors, the runners-up on the list.

So, enough with the statistics, lets talk about me! I began my culinary journey some 40 years ago. A short back story first. I grew up in a rural agricultural part of Ontario and Quebec, a little border town between Montreal and Ottawa. All my family, both sides were dairy farmers. I guess you could say my connection to food started at a very early age. I spent time on the farm...not working as I was too young. In spite of that I have fond memories of the farm, and my grandparents retirement home in the town of Vankleek Hill. My grandfather was an industrious gardener, landscaper and amateur baker, at a time when men baking cakes was unheard of. Daily trips to the local farm stands, butcher shop, cheesemaker were common.

Once a began my appenticeship, i quicky learned what cooking in a hotel or restaurant was really all about. Chef Ashley of the Dorchester Hotel was a great teacher and friend. On the job, he was a monster. I walked on eggshells, and feared making mistakes or asking questions. As a young man, 17 to be exact, I was not fully prepared for this. But, I learned fast! I also came to the conclusion that there must be a better way to manage I turned to education. Today, I believe that i am considered a fair, but firm Chef. Still have my moments...that Chef temper thing.

So, to conclude let me explain a little of my thoughts on the Chef Ego thing. Working in the hospitality industry is hard work, long hours and very little appreciation. The ego thing likely is a result of this. We work hard to get to were we are in life, just as hard, maybe harder than doctors, lawyers and such. My education is still ongoing, it really never ends. The more I travel, the more I learn about the connection between food, culture and society. I work hard to keep my EGO in check, and to educate younger cooks in our discipline. With that, I wish you a happy hump day! And as a token of my appreciation, here is a complimentary Blook , blog book I put together recently. Cheers, and happy cooking!

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