Stories on the Fly is a reocurring guest post series featuring the voices of Indianapolis's restaurant community, from the front of the house to the back. This one was written by Prime 47's executive chef Eric Rogers.
After a blindingly quick 13 years in this world, the strongest attribute I’ve taken on is the ability to make things happen now
When I think of the restaurant business, I don’t think “food,” I think “urgency.” We need 24 now, we need saute pans now, we need glasses now. Selling service is an urgent business, and I’ve yet to see a table that understood we’re understaffed or our oven is “on the fritz”. No one cares whose first day it is; they want their food now
. I’ve seen a plethora of outstanding, talented people weeded out by the monster we call “volume”. It’s not what you can do, it’s how fast you can do it.
Preparation softens the blow but it’s always the dish you’re not expecting to sell that takes off out of the blue. The truly seasoned cooks know better than to utter the words “Were not gonna sell (insert dish everyone will order tonight) tonight”. The guy that breaks down too early will get crushed. The minute you wrap the short ribs, Murphy's Law cues the printer: “short rib risotto.” Data and forecasting is essential but in the end we’re just outstanding gamblers. The business's daily stress tops the stress levels of any profession out there. The good ones are so invested that every negativity resonates into change. We live between these stainless steel walls, our families suffer our absence, our list of friends are rarely more than the coworkers we rely on.
The people in your life that last do so by excellence alone, the people I have spent my hardest hours with have seen the best of me and vice versa, the giants we are that our families have never seen, people living in urgency, people with no excuses, the closest to perfect we degenerates will ever achieve. The ones that will not be broken are recognized with playful berating, and if you have a weakness, it will be tested. There are few people I think more of than my coworkers and I rip them apart every day.
We are crass, we are resilient, we are proudly blue collar and we are ready to work right now.