The kitchen can be a magnetic place for your average couch potato or cubicle creature. The heat, the noise, and the instant satisfaction seem a galaxy away from answering emails and suffering through dull meetings. But like everything glamorized for television, the harsh reality is glazed over or, even worse, wholly omitted.
There's been no shortage of celebrity chefs who've pointed out this fact. Anthony Bourdain has weighed in on the matter. Cosmopolitan has opined about it. In 2015, former Jean-Georges chef de partie Christian Lemp offered another sober look at the profession.
Here's one more. Last Thursday during a hectic lunch service at Brickell's Bachour Bakery + Bistro, line cook Karen Peco, 29, saw a sauté pan full of hot oil teetering near the edge of the stove. Thanks to the crowds, the stove's grates are perpetually slicked with a thin film of oil. It's common for hot pans to slide back and forth or twirl in place. As the pan slipped toward the precipice, she pushed it back, sending a hot wave of oil onto her hand, leaving it purple, blistered, and in screaming pain.
Image by Zachary Fagenson
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The following day when she showed up, chef Henry Hane tried to send her home, but Peco insisted on staying. Hane and Bachour put out calls to doctors. Meanwhile, Peco wrapped her hand in an Ace bandage, slapped two latex gloves over it, and plowed into the day. "I'm a chef," she said, "I don't stay home; I cook."