After reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, I realized that becoming a chef is not at all what I imagined. It takes a ton of time and involves getting dirty. You have to start from the ground up. I saw some similarities to the process of becoming a writer, or really, any creative job. Anthony Bourdain gives 14 tips on how to become a chef.
Let’s find out how many of those tips are helpful to become a writer, or any other creative job.
1. Be fully committed.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. It’ll be beneficial to make up your mind that writing is what you want to do. If you really don’t want to be a writer, then how will you find time/ energy to read and write all day long, or right after your day job? You probably won’t make the time, or find the energy. You need to really want it.
“Don’t be a fence-sitter or a waffler. If you’re going to be a chef someday, be sure about it, single-minded in your determination to achieve victory at all costs.” -Anthony Bourdain
2. Learn Spanish!
Is this helpful to become a writer? Probably not. Unless, you want to be a Spanish writer or appeal to a Spanish speaking audience.
3. Don’t Steal.
Is this helpful to become a writer? If you interpret this as don’t plagiarize, then yes. It’s not exactly what Anthony Bourdain meant, but if you want to become a writer plagiarizing is a major offense that you want to stay far away from. With all the reading a writer is doing, it’s almost as tempting to plagiarize as it is for a chef to steal from their restaurant.
“In fact, don’t do anything that you couldn’t take a polygraph test over…If you’re a sneak and a liar, however, it will follow you forever. This is a small business; everybody knows everybody else. You will do yourself immeasurable harm.” -Anthony Bourdain
4. Always be on time.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If you have a writing job, then of course yes. If you have scheduled writing hours set aside daily, do yourself a favor and never skip them. How else do you expect to get better? This tip translates to almost any career.
5. Never make excuses or blame others.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes, of course. Writers have deadlines. If you don’t reach the deadline, then it’s your fault. Admit it and do better next time.
6. Never call in sick.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. Unless, you’re so sick that you can’t move. It is best to try and get your work done. Especially, if you are falling behind on a deadline.
“Except in cases of dismemberment, arterial bleeding, sucking chest wounds or the death of an immediate family member. Granny died? Bury her on your day off.” -Anthony Bourdain
7. Lazy, sloppy and slow are bad.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yeah! Turn in great work. Turn it in ready to be shipped. I’ve edited other writing before, and it sucks when it’s obvious they didn’t even try to correct some of their grammar errors and misspellings. Don’t be a lazy writer. You’ll quickly get labeled as the lazy writer/ person.
“Enterprising, crafty and hyperactive are good.” -Anthony Bourdain
8. Be prepared to witness every variety of human folly and injustice.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If a writer is making more money than you, and you think you’re better, don’t worry about it. You got to focus on your own target and goals. Don’t get distracted by comparing yourself to others. It’s not healthy nor is it helpful.
“Without it screwing up your head or poisoning your attitude. You will simply have to endure the contradictions and inequalities of this life. ‘Why does that brain-damaged, lazy-assed busboy take home more money than me, the goddamn sous-chef?’ should not be a question that drives you to tears of rage and frustration. It will just be like that sometimes. Accept it.” -Anthony Bourdain
9. Assume the worst.
Is this helpful to become a writer? I don’t know. This one might be more chef specific since they have to interact with the same people everyday whether they like them or not. Usually, writers have a bit more flexibility throughout the day. This tip is meant for chefs who might not like one of their coworkers. Bourdain is advising to find their company entertaining, and amusing, regardless of how you feel about the person.
10. Try not to lie.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. This is good practice for any line of work. You don’t want people questioning what you say.
“Remember, this is the restaurant business. No matter how bad it is, everybody probably has heard worse. Forgot to place the produce order? Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.” -Anthony Bourdain
11. Avoid restaurants where the owner’s name is over the door.
Is this helpful to become a writer? No. Unless, you’re writing for a restaurant?
“Avoid restaurants that smell bad. Avoid restaurants with names that will look funny or pathetic on your resume.” -Anthony Bourdain
12. Think about that resume!
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. You should always keep your resume in mind, no matter what line of work you’re in. Your resume will get you your next job.
“How will it look to a chef weeding through a stack of faxes if you’ve never worked in one place longer than six months?” -Anthony Bourdain
Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yes! You have to read. 24/ 7. Bourdain recommends cookbooks and trade magazines to keep up with the industry trends. While, you don’t have to keep up with trends, you should always be reading the writing of great writers. It will help your writing. Have you ever heard of a musician who doesn’t listen to music?
14. Have a sense of humor about things.
Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. In writing and life, a sense of humor is required 🙂 .
“You’ll need it.” -Anthony Bourdain