26 June 2009

Why I won't be opening up my own restaurant ...

My friend Chuck made a post about how he's not looking to go into cooking professionally. I'd have to say that I agree with a lot of what he says. Our reasoning may be different on the surface, but deep down inside, I think that what Chuck said resonates with me.

There's a difference between being the one to own the restaurant and the one who cooks in it. There's a difference between catering an event, wherein you show up, cook the food that the people have bought, using their dishes, and go off on your merry way when it's all said and done, and owning a catering company, employing others under you, and being responsible to a whole host of other things.

For me, the reasoning why I didn't want to go into business for myself started off with a gut feeling, but after seeing the logistics of it, have evolved into a "I really don't have what it takes."

I don't think there's any shame in admitting that, to be honest. It's important to know your limits, and to still strive for more. I know that I don't have what it takes to be a restauranteur, because I've seen what it's like on a regular basis. The business consumes you. You can have 100 good reviews, but one bad review can send you into a tailspin of nasty emotions that are forever threatening to break through the surface. You can be a kind and fair person, but forever have a nagging feeling that you're actually a bully and a jerk. You can do your utmost to be a decent person, pay the piper on time, and keep on the straight and narrow, only to watch everything come unglued, because one pivotal person has you by the testicles.

Sorry. Not for me.

But it all goes back to something Chuck mentioned, and something that I explain to others who ask me. Cooking, for me, is a highly personal and intimate act. Aside from feeding your body, which I do try to do healthfully and completely, I'm showing you a side of me that not everyone else gets to see. It's part of the reason why I don't post that many food pictures. I want that meal to be an intimate experience between me and whoever it is I cooked it for. To show it off would be like a public display of affection, which is something I indulge in only very rarely.

For me to be able to cross that barrier and cook for people whom I not only don't care for, but actively dislike, seems like it would cause me some mental strife. I've been eminently fortunate that the people who eat at Sacred Chow are awesome people, who have brains, looks, and good palettes. I've only met kind and interesting folk there, and I think it's because that's the sort of crowd that the space attracts. The nasty, negative, angry people either don't come to us, or they see my genuine smile, and relax, and have a good time.

However, that's not the case for every restaurant I've been to. People can be rude, and inconsiderate, and hurtful. I don't really think I'd want to serve that sort of person. I don't think I could, and still keep a smile on my face. It's kind of the reason that my circle of friends is fairly tight-knit. I make acquaintances easily, but it takes me a while to warm up to the person as a friend.

I'm rambling, I know. The point is that it takes all kinds, y'know? Some people do have what it takes to run their own restaurants, and they have the utmost of my respect. I, on the other hand, am one content to cook for my family, my friends, my husband, and occasionally, at Chow, where I don't really see the results of the food, except for the empty bowls that come down!