Updated: Apr 8
1) Don't touch - Now I'm sure everyone knows how protective chefs are of their knives, this is without doubt very true and honestly the colourful and creative language that I personally have witnessed and potentially dished out is understandable.
Your knives are more than just a tool, they are an extension of your soul, there are however some chefs who will tuck them away at the end of their shift while singing them a lullaby, I'm sure we all know someone who is this obsessed with their collection and if a singular blade is used without permission there will be eruptions of a colossal scale.
Again its understandable, I've heard stories of knives being used to open cans, chucked in the dishwasher and also been used to lift up drain covers where on everyone of these occasions the knives have not come off well.
Its simple either ask or don't go anywhere near a chefs knife without asking.
2) BACKS! - This is a common term in the kitchen, normally that's being shouted close to your ear, chefs become so used to saying this in the kitchen that on some occasions when you walk down a busy street or a crowded supermarket, you may well here it being blurted out in a firm but comforting way, this will be a chef on his day off probably still with the mindset of being in amongst a busy service, our advice is to leave them be and watch them scarper off into the wilderness.
3) Asbestos hands - This develops over time, it all starts on your first day in the kitchen where your hands are constantly getting charred and sliced, its after all the pain and no sympathy from any other chefs in your brigade that you realise "this is how life is now"
I remember on one occasion, I stupidly used a blunt knife to cut a big block of cheddar cheese, I even used all the correct safety techniques to prevent an injury. I began to cut into the dairy based chunk of goodness, then within an instant it all went Pete tong, the knife slipped and went straight into the palm of my hand, this is where I began to leak. in panic I turned to my head and sous chef, expecting their sympathy and some calming words, however all I received was a bluntly put sentence forged together with a tone of resentment 'Are you serious, we are 10 minutes away from service" that was it, that's all I got. After that rather traumatic experience I learned that i'd have to adapt to deal with the pain in he future.
4) Espresso's are fuel - when you're smashing up to 15 hours a day in a commercial kitchen, you need that quick, warming hit of caffeinated water to assist you through the hard graft ahead, its also extremely helpful after a spontaneous night of socialising, just don't over indulge as you can end up developing the shakes, where you feel your entire body vibrating with an intense surge of energy that could potentially power a small village.
5) The shouting place - you all may be aware of the stereotypical angry chef, well yes some chefs are in better words overly passionate, this is sometimes because the commis chef has somehow burnt a soup, The Chef de partie has not shouted Backs and caused the sous chef to get badly burnt resulting now being a chef down, or The Kp has accidentally put washing up liquid in the dishwasher and is now bubbling up like the emotions of the said overly passionate chef.
its times like these every chef has one place they will go to quite literally cool off, this sacred location is simply known as the walk- in fridge and is the place where many emotions get deposited in the most verbal sense.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the chef life, please feel free to share with your friends, fellow chefs or family.