Today’s Throwback Thursday is in anticipation of a long, hot, “cruel” summer in the kitchen…
There’s a saying, if you can’t stand the heat get (the hell) out of the kitchen. And most people do. Not a lot of cooking and baking goes on in New England home kitchens in the summer. Central AC is still rare, at least in my social circles, and a window unit just doesn’t have enough oomph to cool off a kitchen when the oven or a couple of stove burners are on for any length of time. Grills are fired up, take out picked up on the way home, weekday meals out are the everyday versus celebration, breakfast for dinner (cereal, pancakes, omelettes, etc.) becomes popular and sandwiches and salads move from lunch to dinner. Whatever it takes to keep out of the kitchen and out on the deck/porch/stoop is the smart, rational thing to do.
Then there are those sturdy, brave and, most definitely, crazy people who work in the food industry. Are cafe, bakeries and restaurants air conditioned? Yes. Both the front of house where servers and customers reside and the back of house where the kitchen staff toils, I mean works, are air conditioned. Here’s the thing, no matter how good the AC is it can’t keep up with the ovens, grills, flat tops, gas burners and body heat being generated in the kitchen. It’s hot. How hot? Hotter than I ever thought was possible. The kind of hot that if you were at home would have you sitting in front of a fan, drinking ice water and fantasizing about buying a house with pool or moving to Antarctica and marching with the penguins. That hot. Some people sweat when they are hot or work out. I don’t, ever. Except when I’m dressed in socks, kitchen shoes, chef pants and a chef coat hauling flour, sugar and 30 qt. mixing bowls in a kitchen where the temperature is fluctuating around 90 degrees. And don’t even ask about the humidity. You can’t wear shorts or sandals, at least in any sort of good, professional kitchen, because it’s a safety and sanitation hazard. You can drink copious amounts of ice water, move a bit slower and hope for a nice stretch of mid 70’s, maybe even a few days of rain. Only on your days off of course! Kitchen staff are people too and need their beach days just like everyone else, maybe even more.
So why do it? Because not only are most people who work in kitchens extremely passionate about what they do and it’s their job, the thing that pays the bills, but because they’re tough enough, strong enough to bring you cookies, bread, cakes, sandwiches, soup, etc. no matter what the weather. Snowmageddon 2015 aside.