THE CULINARY HUSTLE
Now hold up, it’s not as cool as you think. There’s no reference to hustler, Paul Newman, or Three Card Monte, and no one’s getting scammed, so to speak. It’s the lengths we, as professional cooks and chefs, go to makes ends meet when we’re not exactly in the place we want to be.
The first culinary hustle, “One Night Catering Events.” These are one nighters at some ridiculously rich person’s home hoping to make some quick cash and contacts. Which, could lead you to your next one night catering at another ridiculously rich person’s place. These events are the least painless of the many forms of culinary hustle because there are sleazy perks. First, there are always excessive amounts of liquor available and the host will often offer you a glass or never knew you imbibed from his stock. Then, there are frequently single cougars or cougarettes (is that even an urban slang…well, it
is now) in attendance who are goo-goo eyed for the white chef coats. Again excessive alcohol doesn’t hurt, lastly you usually get paid in cash, and that’s always the best part.
The second culinary hustle is working in kitchens that we would probably never have worked in by choice. I’m talking about the fast, casual family style restaurants (i.e. Applebee’s). Before you jump all over me about the reality of a “job is a job,” true chefs and cooks, I mean “real pros,” need to be stimulated, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, women, or any combination thereof. What I mean in this instance is, creativity. When you take these types of jobs which would normally put any chefs to sleep, you are either burnt out or just need a kitchen to practice recipes or concepts. For the most part, it’s the latter but takers beware, this gig could be a real creativity buster. Believe me, the establishment’s owner does exact their pound of flesh from you. They get a trained professional who could run the line with their eyes closed.
The third culinary hustle is the currently trending “pop up.” This one is more like an audition. I like to call em’ “speakeasys,” because you’re using established restaurants as your “one nighter.” Of course, the establishment receives a fee, but when I mean “using,” it is everything from their kitchen, decor, tables, and if you are lucky, ambiance. Can you see it now? A 12-course Japanese omakase meal in a Mexican restaurant? It may sound far-fetched, but definitely possible. The atmosphere may be casual, but you enjoy a fine dining meal wearing slippers and jeans…C’mon. So there you go, not so bad, no one
gets hurt and no standing in front of the Korean Grocery Store waiting for some schmo to rob you blind. Sounds like a “win, win” proposition to me.
For now, it’s just treading water above the sea of bills, waiting and biding your time until its your turn to make it big.