Holiday PSA: Remember The Back Of The House

An easy way to thank all those people enabling your holiday gluttony—and making spirits bright and stuff.

December 21, 2017 ● 2 min read

By Richie Nakano | Image BSVIT via iStock, Collage ChefsFeed

Hidden in the background of all of those holiday parties, company dinners, and cocktail soirées with fancy passed apps there's a kitchen full of cooks and dishwashers, grinding away.  

The holiday season presents a unique set of challenges for cooks. Depending on where you are, there's weather to contend with, crowded public transportation, and a lack of parking, that often means leaving for work an hour earlier than usual. Once you make it to the kitchen, tensions run higher than normal; on Monday, there might a couple of banquets, on Tuesday a buyout. If Wednesday is a normal service, then Thursday through Sunday mean packed houses of guests looking for the perfect night out with family and friends they rarely see. Chefs try to capitalize on these busy services by offering high-end luxury ingredients—squander those truffles and die—so the expectation to perform is off the charts. To top it off, it just kind of sucks to watch a bunch of drunk strangers ball out in the dining room when you’re sweating your ass off for $14 an hour. Understandable.   

The normal world comes with a civilized holiday schedule. A few days off before or after Christmas, or for some, two weeks free and clear. Cooks get none of that. In some cases, the holidays can mean less money. If a restaurant books a ton of buyouts during the holidays, that means fewer hours: Prepping and cooking for 70 people just takes a lot less time than cooking for 400. Everyone in a restaurant rakes in more cash during the holidays—servers, bartenders, and owners—but for cooks, its just more pressure in an already stressful job without any of the benefits. 

Now, most days of the year, I'd say that this is what you sign up for as a cook—the long hours, the low pay, the stress. It’s just part of the job. (Which isn’t to say that doesn’t need fixing, but we will address that later.) But! There’s something small you can do during the holidays if you have the means, and it's pretty easy: Tip, or gift, the kitchen.  

Throw them a few bucks, or a bottle of bourbon, or some delicious homemade treats. Bring them some new peelers, or gift cards for coffee. During the season of giving, it's easy to overlook those who are dedicated to taking care of us. Many cooks can’t even afford to travel home for the holidays, so they rely on each other both for company, and as a family: be the catalyst that brings them together for a little festivity. Plus, a cold beer after a grueling shift can feel just as luxurious as truffles. 

Besides, you don’t want to be the real-life embodiment of Kevin from Home Alone when he orders that fucking pizza, do you? YA FILTHY ANIMAL.