The Disney Plus hit The Bear captivated streaming audiences by showing the chaos of life in a busy restaurant kitchen.
Described as a study of the “craziness of work” and the beautiful “sense of urgency” that runs through kitchens, the show has inspired many viewers to begin careers in this notoriously frenetic industry.
But how true is this in life? The great pasta chef Roberta d’Elia has been working in the kitchens of Europe and Europe for 20 years.
She’s now head chef at Pasta Evangelists in London and MailOnline asked her to share what the life of a chef is really like…
The great pasta chef Roberta d’Elia has been working in the kitchens of Europe and Europe for 20 years.
Roberta d’Elia, head chef at Pasta Evangelists in London, was asked by MailOnline to share what the life of a chef is really like.
There are many misconceptions about chefs.
Shows like The Bear and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares paint a picture of cuisine that is often unrealistic.
Never ask a boss if he or she has seen any of these things. A good chef doesn’t have time to watch television, he is in the kitchen.
Bosses are addicted to long hours and hard work. We work ridiculous hours and never stop thinking about food. Cooking is a drug and if you’re not addicted, you won’t get far.
I started as a chef twenty years ago and progressed to the point where I now learn from the best in the finest kitchens in England and Europe.
When I started in the industry, it was still dominated by men.
Early in my career, male chefs didn’t treat women with the same respect in the kitchen. I was given simple tasks and often pushed aside. When I asked for help, I was told it was “difficult”.
Finally, I said, “I’m not asking you how hard it is, I’m asking you how to do it.”
Chef Roberta said the industry was male-dominated in its early days
“Chefs are addicted to long hours and hard work. We work ridiculous hours and never stop thinking about food. Cooking is a drug and if you’re not addicted, you won’t get far,” Roberta d’Elia said.
If you are a woman and you want to build your career and have a family, it is very difficult work.
I decided to pursue my career and leave my family behind and I’m happy with that decision.
I started in Puglia, southern Italy, in a classic Trattoria restaurant and fell in love with pasta.
To be honest, I always think about pasta. Last week, on vacation, my partner insulted me and told me to turn off because I was talking about what was left in the fridge at the restaurant.
You’d think that after working sixty hours a week you’d want some time away from food, but the truth is, none of us can ever truly switch off – it’s all encompassing.
Chef Roberta started in Puglia, southern Italy, in a classic Trattoria restaurant, then “fell in love with pasta.”
Chef Roberta said it was an open secret that some chefs resorted to medication to get through busy times.
The pressure is intense and working as a team there will be trouble spots.
I can be a bit of a Gordon Ramsay with my team. I’m sharp, but after each service we congratulate each other for surviving and thriving. Then we clean up and move on.
We put pressure on ourselves but it’s also real. If someone else is having a bad day at the office, they forget about it. If we do, we ruin someone’s night and lose a customer.
You can’t lose your focus. At all.
When you’re a chef, what you really don’t want to lose is your patience, because when you’re patient with food, that’s what really gives you that energy and the strength to keep going.
I’ve never done it or seen it while working, but it’s an open secret in the industry that some chefs resort to medication to get through their sessions.
I suppose it sharpens them, but I don’t think they need it. If you need medication to do your job, you’ve already lost the passion, so what’s the point.
That being said, we have our limits.
Chef Roberta, At the beginning of my career, male chefs did not treat women with the same respect in the kitchen. I was given simple tasks and often pushed aside
“To be honest, I always think about pasta. Last week, on vacation, my partner insulted me and told me to turn off because I was talking about what I had left in the refrigerator at the restaurant,” said chef Roberta.
I once worked with a very proud Italian chef who I won’t name who forbade a customer from asking about his pasta.
It was just a plate of spaghetti and the customer was really present.
Finally he broke down and told her it was just spaghetti pasta but he wouldn’t have any because he was very picky.
With our job you can easily explode – like I said, we have our limits.