5. Pain: a love story
I remember at Momofuku, we had a keg in the walk-in refrigerator. We had just spent 14 hours cooking. Service would be done, and after cleanup, we would tap the keg, put a few pitchers on the pass, and just sit back and hang out for an hour drinking beer in the kitchen in our street clothes. Then Chef would say, “All right, I’m done putting in orders for tomorrow. Finish up your beer, lock up, let’s go to the bar.” And we would all go to a bar or restaurant together.
That’s the thing. You’re with each other all day, but you can’t seem to say goodnight. Do you get sick of some of these people sometimes? Sure. And there are times when you take shit from other people at work. But you can’t hold grudges, because you’re there with them so much. You keep them close to you, too, because they are all you really have.
When you hear someone whine, “I work 40 hours a week. I hate it. I’m so tired.” Well, boo-fucking-hoo. I work 80 hours a week for a quarter of your paycheck and you don’t hear me complaining. Holidays off? What’s that? Expect to work on Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, and your birthday -- that is, if you aren’t too exhausted to remember which day is your birthday. All the days run into each other when you’re in a windowless space that’s a constant 90 degrees and you never get out until the sun’s gone to sleep. You make no money and you marry yourself to the restaurant. So you’d damn well better love what you do.