2. "I'm not allowed to hit you right now, but I’ll do it"
In the kitchen, space is so tight you have to be like a ballet dancer doing pirouettes in clogs. We have to communicate amongst ourselves, keeping it quiet, too. Depending on who the chef you’re working for is, there might be other rules, like no smiling in the kitchen, no laughing, no talking. No banging pans. You drop something, everyone is all over you because of the noise. And logistically, if I turn while you’re going behind me, without me ever saying anything, you know exactly where I am and I know exactly what you’re doing.
I hate screwing up. First, because you get yelled at. But also because you have nothing else in this world. If you’re a cook, you don’t have money, you don’t have a social life, you don’t have any outside life. All you are is a station cook, so you take pride in your work to a fault. And if you can’t take criticism well, you’re going to start to crumble. And you’d better pretty much understand that no matter what the circumstances, you cannot talk back to chef. Ever! You always have to answer, “Yes, Chef,” or “No, Chef,” and that is it. At NoMad, where I was a line cook for six months, when Chef calls out an order, everyone in the kitchen has to yell in unison, “Oui!”, meaning they understood. The chef goes, “Fire this, this, this, this!” Once he’s done talking, everyone goes OUI! at the top of their lungs. And if you’re out of sync with your ouis, he’ll make you do it again. He’ll go, “You guys are a piece of shit! You’re not working together! Let’s have some enthusiasm! Call it again.”