Maybe you know the feeling. You know, that feeling you get when you feel like someone is going catch on to who you “really” are and scream at the top of their lungs, “FRAUD!” Well, maybe you don’t, but I know it all too well.
I’ve written before about being in Culinary School for the past 10 years. That’s a terribly long time. Since starting, I’ve entirely changed careers. Before getting all too serious about Culinary School, I was a video editor and website administrator. I love, love, love editing videos and hearing exactly what I want to say out of what I edit. It truly makes me happy. So does cooking and all things food-related. Cooking finally edged out all other career choices and that is now what I do to get paid.
However, when I’m asked what it is I do, I often say “I go to Culinary School.” While I don’t work full-time, by any stretch of the imagination, this is not a true statement. Yes, I do go to Culinary School but that is not all. Culinary School is just an education; it cannot make one a chef and I am a chef. Really.
I plan, shop, develop menus and execute meals. I supervise a volunteer staff of about 25 people and I serve food that I have planned and prepared to hundreds of people each month. I like to think I may be missed if I wasn’t doing those things. I have helped turn the cafe where I work and manage into a place people seem to look forward to visiting. These are all things that “real” chefs do, but I have nothing but difficulty in calling myself a chef. As if I am only play acting.
Recently, I had a small epiphany that led me to get a lot closer to allowing myself to admit I have the skill and expertise to not be a fraud … to not feel like an imposter in a white coat and silly hat (Well, I have a coat, but I rarely wear it; I run a casual kitchen.) I had cooked and helped serve meals to nearly 90 paying customers in an hour and half. That’s a lot, by any stretch of the imagination.
When I got home that evening, I ran through the events of the day and the meals and how it could’ve been better. It can always be better. But, as I began thinking about that, a nagging thought crept in my head. “You really are a chef,” it kept telling me and I rejected the thought just like I always do.
Why do I do that? Why do I wait for someone to whisper in my ear, “You’re not really a chef,” or scream it from the dining room floor? Why can’t I accept that I am pretty good at something; well enough for others to acknowledge it and well enough to be be better than pretty good. I am very good at what I do and I am a chef.
Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll really believe it. As it stands, I only kinda embrace the new me. But that’s a whole heck of a lot more than the old me…
Just who do I think I am??
I am a chef.