Discover more from The Recovering Line Cook
Now it's over, it's probably worth thinking about again.
The Private Memoirs of a Recovering Line Cook.
It started in The Dolphin
In 2013 I was 27; the greatest age known to humanity. I was working a job that paid me too much for doing criminally little and, though I didn’t know it then, I would never again look so good in a pair of ultra skinny jeans and winkle pickers. One night just before Easter that year, I got very drunk in a vicious little pub in East London called The Dolphin. The previous weekend, my friends and I had vowed never to go there again after one of our group had had their face re-arranged by a local skinhead on the dancefloor. But 7 days later we were there again. Funny how vows go out the window when it’s 11pm and all the nicer pubs have shut for the night.
That evening, I met a Finnish girl who shouldn’t have been there either. She was on holiday in London with friends and, luckily for me, none of them knew any better than visiting The Dolphin on a Friday night.
The Finnish girl and I ended up spending the weekend together before she went home to Stockholm.
I still think it's funny what one night in a nasty pub can lead to.
Within 3 years I had quit my job in digital marketing, retrained as a chef, and moved to Sweden to be with her.
This newsletter is me not leaving it all behind
I spent 5 years working as a professional chef. The first year, I went to culinary school while working weekends at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London. The next four years I spent working “the line” in restaurants across Stockholm. These ranged from modest steak houses, to Michelin-starred restaurants considered some of the best in Europe. It really was a hell of a ride. The things I did, the people I met, things I learnt, the night and day difference to the life I lived before.
The Finnish girl and I, meanwhile, got married and started having children. And by the time we moved to Finland in 2020, I knew the long hours and commitment needed to succeed as a chef just wouldn’t fit with the kind of dad and husband I wanted to be.
It’s 2023 now. 2-and-a-half years since I last stepped out of the doors of a restaurant kitchen. Writing this, I realise how little I have thought of my former life since I stopped living it. With two kids, a new country to come to terms to, and getting up to speed with half a decade’s worth of marketing industry change, it would be easy to say I’ve been too busy to reminisce. But I think that’s being generous. Really, I think I've been too afraid to look back on it all. Too afraid to fully appreciate what I left behind.
This newsletter is my way of making sure I don’t really let myself leave it behind.
The Private Memoirs of a Recovering Line Cook
The life of a line cook was hilarious. It was beautiful. It was terrifying and depressing and miserable and painful. It was playing for hours with your friends and it was gauging the eyes out of 15 pig heads while simultaneously roasting nuts that you just know you’re going to burn again (did you know the eyes make the pig head meat bitter if you don’t take them out before cooking? You do now). This newsletter will be my place to record what those 5 years amounted to. It will be my love letter to an industry I still cherish, and a life I genuinely miss. It will be a love letter to the people I miss, too.
In as much, subscribers can expect to learn how to cook the way I learnt how to cook. You will learn about what life in the kitchen was like for me. And you will see what it is like to turn your life on its head at the tender age of 29.
I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.
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