I'm starting to feel competent in the kitchen. I've mastered things that previously eluded me, like frying chicken and boiling eggs properly. I know it sounds funny for a now professional cook to be excited about these things, but being able to do it correctly with consistency is a matter of pride. I know how to cook a perfectly boiled egg now, so it's absolutely creamy when you bite into it. I can also fry chicken drummettes that results in a hot juicy explosion when you bite into them. These things matter if you enjoy food the way I do. I like food that's an experience, and like sharing that experience with others.
I started thinking about why I like to cook so much tonight as I was chopping Brussel sprouts. First I cut off the end of the sprout and then cut it in half. My muscle memory has improved to the point that I can glance around while I do this, and not cut my fingers. I look up and see a vintage street car whiz by on the Embarcaderro. I watch one of the regulars greet his meal with an appreciation that comes from familiarity, and realized how much I'm enjoying this familiarity myself.
I thought about how I enjoy working with food. How it is so multifaceted. Working in a restaurant is very physical work, but also requires technique. It requires patience, waiting for fries to fry is the worst, but also immediacy, salt those fuckers and get me out. You have to plan your movements and the steps it takes to prepare, sometimes multiple dishes, at the same time, thinking through the best method to get it done as you are doing it.
Cooking is also creative. Not only do you create a presentation, but sometimes you can tell a story with how you put a salad on a plate. Most of the time you just want to get it out and move onto the next order in an effort to keep up with the expiditer. But these other things do cross my mind.
Am I romanticize the process? Of course I am. And maybe that comes from the satisfaction I'm getting from this work. All I know is that I like what I'm doing, and love it when I'm doing it right.