The Super Bowl is on Sunday, and I will not be watching it. I will be in the kitchen of the NYC restaurant where I am a line cook. And, while we’re talking about football (because everybody is), I’ve always thought that being a professional football player would be miserable. They’re always sweating, they get hurt all the time, they have to play in really shitty weather, and they only get one day off a week.
Then I realized, “Hey, that sounds an awful lot like my job.” Could it be that I, a lowly line cook, have something in common with these men America worship? Will I, too, eventually star in a commercial for insurance, or pizza, or Subway?!? Let’s review the facts.
1. NFL players and cooks both work weekends and holidays.
Sure, you spent Thanksgiving afternoon watching the Texans-Lions game with your dad and helped your mom peel potatoes. You know who wasn’t relaxing at home with their parents? Arian Foster. Matt Stafford. Me.
Just like football players don’t get to spend Sunday afternoons drinking beer and eating nachos, cooks don’t go to Friday happy hours. We don’t go to Saturday night dinner parties. Or Sunday brunches. Last year on the 4th of July, another line cook went to the bodega next door and bought a watermelon so that our pre-service “family meal” would be at least a little bit like the barbecue that everyone else was having. Come Sunday (go Ravens!), maybe we’ll make wings before service.
2. We both do our jobs despite extreme temperatures.
Ever watch a football game where the stadium is so cold that you can see the players’ breath? I don’t understand how they run around in those tiny pants in such freezing weather. But I have the opposite problem: I spend the workday wearing giant pants (no matter what size uniforms we order, they always just seem to send large everything) in a hot, smoky kitchen.
And even if you forget the temperature, both Joe Flacco and I sweat for six hours a day. It’s disgusting and at times can go as far as seeming unnatural, but it is what it is. The difference between the kitchen and the NFL with regard to sweat, though, is that they have showers in their locker rooms and we most definitely do not. So, while Ed Reed probably goes home every day smelling like body wash (or whatever the super-manly version of body wash is…Gillette bar soap?), I go home smelling like six-hour-old sweat.
Like the little girl says in the State Farm commercial, being a professional football player isn’t a real job (and if trophies are for people with self-esteem issues, then maybe big, sharp knives are too). People seem to think the same thing about professional cooking: “You are SO lucky you don’t have to be at work until noon. I wish I could sleep in every day!”
Excuse me, assistant account executive who works 9 to 5 and spends at least two hours a day on Facebook. It really doesn’t count as sleeping in when you don’t get off of work until midnight. And just because you think that cooking at home is relaxing, that doesn’t mean that cooking for a living isn’t work. Cooking for four people is a fun thing that you do on a Saturday night; cooking for 150 people is a stressful (and, yes, sometimes masochistically fun) thing that I do every night.
Also, I bet you’re reading this at work. If I read BuzzFeed in the kitchen, I’d probably get my hand chopped off.
4. We both love to whine.
Like football players, cooks are pretty well-known for moping about their misfortunes (see #1–3 above) and bitching about their coworkers. Cue Cam Newton pouting on the bench like a sixth-grade girl, Gatorade towel draped over his head. It really is obnoxious how much we complain about our chosen career path.
What you may not realize about all that “complaining” is that, like any NFL star worth his jockstrap, cooks actually think we’re the shit. We think the fact that we work hard and take a fair amount of abuse means that we are inherently more awesome than normal people with “real” jobs. Cooks miss out on all of the regular-person fun. We work long hours behind closed doors, and for that, we think we are absolutely badass.
Being in a print ad campaign for Uggs is decidedly not badass, but other than that major misstep by Tom Brady, I imagine that football players feel the same way about their innate badass-ery.
Because we are cooler than you.
Come Super Bowl Sunday, I will be hunched over a stove cooking duck breasts and constantly calling to the dishwashers for more sauté pans. I will be jealous of my friends who are sitting on bar stools, drinking Bud Lights (for shame) and sort of watching the game that’s on in the background. I will be cursing the fact that I have to work. But maybe the fact that I will be working on Sunday isn’t the worst thing. Because, hey, you know who else will be working all day? Ray fucking Lewis.