Watch your hands
Chefs have some of the most notoriously jacked up hands of any profession. It's no wonder they'd wish their younger selves took better care.
"Don't shuck oysters when you're nervous. Quite simply, I have done more damage to my hands shucking a few oysters than pretty much anything else. And if you do it under pressure or in a hurry, watch out!"
—Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter, New York City)
And your eyes
Every young culinary dreamer has to be prepared to cut metric tons of onions.
“Hey kid, don’t be too cool for goggles. My first kitchen job was to peel a sack of onions. When you’re finished you peel another one. And then you end up spending the entire day peeling onions for the chef. In the moment, tears rolling down my face (onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which stimulates the eyes' lachrymal glands so they release tears). It’s hard to understand there is a reason behind it. But guess what, I can cut onions really, really well now and I appreciate the importance of finishing an apprenticeship under the right tutelage and building a strong foundation of skills -- I just wish I had got myself a damn pair of goggles.”
—Curtis Stone (Maude, Los Angeles)
Enjoy the little things
For young cooks, the hours can make your whole life feel like the kitchen and nothing else.
I used to take myself a little too seriously. I think that burying yourself in work is something that everyone does, which is great, but as my father-in-law says you gotta stop and smell the roses. I don’t think I did that until I was an adult.”
—Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Abe Fischer, Federal Doughnuts, Dizengoff, Philadelphia)