We recently got a letter from Keith, a 45-year-old reader who hated his job and asked us, Am I just too old to become a chef? A number of letters have come in, encouraging the guy in his dream: On my 62nd birthday, wrote one, I retired from a long-time corporate career in risk management to follow my daydream of becoming a cook and now, three years later, work as a prep cook at Amalia. But lest Keith get the idea that the cooking world as a whole is filled with love and understanding, heres a wake-up call from chef Dawn Fornear of Vessel restaurant in Seattle. Fornear writes:
The answer is YES, you are too old to work in a kitchen. I dont want you if youre going to complain that your knees hurt, your feet hurt from the concrete floor, that you cant move fast enough, cant hear orders called. That you cant stand to listen to the Mexican death metal that the dishwashers play or the gangsta rap the prep cooks listen to. That you cant work 80-hour workweeks. That you are too old to remember that you dont run this kitchen I dont give a crap that Bill Buford or Jeffrey Steingarten have romanticized the kitchen. I dont care that the Food Network has made senior citizens think they can just waltz into a kitchen and start searing foie gras.
Jeez, Chef, thats harsh! Remind us not to ask you about Santa Claus, or what happens to tired circus animals, anytime soon. We just hope Keith never sees your letter.
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