How to become a chef and become a writer

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

13. Read!

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

Getting out of bed early in the morning

Do you have trouble getting out of bed early in the morning? It seems like we all do. I don’t know too many people who leap out of bed as soon as the alarm clock rings. Neither do I know anyone who doesn’t hit snooze at least once. I know I hit snooze, at least, once every morning.

It turns out that this is a problem people have been having forever. Even the great Roman emperor/ philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, had problems getting out of bed. I don’t feel so bad anymore. Here’s what he wrote regarding the topic.

“On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind- I am awakening to the work of a human being. Why then am I annoyed that I am going to do what I’m made for, the very things for which I was put into this world? Or was I make for this, to snuggle under the covers and keep warm? It’s so pleasurable. Were you then made for pleasure? In short, to be coddled or to exert yourself?” – Marcus Aurelius 

Our goal for every morning sounds something like this.

“Your alarm goes off at 5am, and you immediately get out of bed without a second thought. As you orient yourself to the waking world, you can barely detect any lingering grogginess, even if you look for it. You stand up and stretch, feeling totally alert, fully conscious, and eager to start your day. The thought of going back to bed to get some extra sleep seems completely alien to you.

It feels great to be up early, and you know you’ll put those early morning hours to good use. You’ll be able to exercise, shower, get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast, read some inspiring material, and invest an hour in your home-based business — all before 8am. And you know that the habit of starting each day this way will serve you well for life.

Maintaining this habit is easy for you. You don’t have to force yourself out of bed, and it doesn’t seem to require much discipline at all. It feels normal and natural to be alert and active at this time.” -Steve Pavlina

A lot of my mornings look like that, but a lot of them don’t either (the nights I stay up late). To get your morning routine down like that takes practice and willpower (in the beginning). After you get used to it, and notice the benefits, the resistance to stay in bed won’t be as strong. You’ll know that getting out of bed early is a good thing and that it’s in your best interest. Once you see the results and have that kind of mentality you won’t need to hit snooze more than twice.

For many years, I wasn’t a morning person. I don’t think I considered myself a morning person until I was 26 years old. I would actually feel groggy, and like crap, for the first few hours of the day.

I noticed all that changed once I altered my diet. Once I started eating healthier and eliminated fast food, sugary treats and processed food from my diet, I was able to get up early in the morning and feel alert almost immediately. No more grogginess.

“Diet and sleep are inextricably intertwined. If you think you can master your sleeping habits without improving your diet, you’re deluding yourself. Seriously.

Unfortunately most people — Americans especially — consume a truly hideous diet these days, filled with hormone-laden animal products, artificial ingredients, sugar, caffeine, salt, white flour, and heavily processed junk. An unhealthy diet will tax your endocrine system (which is responsible for hormone production), and that is going to prevent you from enjoying restful sleep.

… If you’ve been messing with your physiology by consuming excessive sugar, caffeine, processed foods, etc, I highly recommend you fix your diet first before attempting to master your sleep habits. Otherwise you’re only going to frustrate yourself. Two and a half years of feedback from readers attempting to become early risers has taught me it’s almost a rule that waking up groggy and eating a crappy diet go hand in hand. Keep in mind that in the USA, the average diet is an extremely crappy diet. I think that’s why people who wake up before dawn feeling totally alert tend to be considered overachievers, freaks, or genetically gifted. From the early risers’ perspective, it seems like everyone else is drugging themselves into a stupor.” – Steve Pavlina

For the record, I discovered the eating healthy & getting up early in the morning correlation (or causation, if there are already scientific studies out there) before I read that Steve Pavlina article 🙂 .

If you’re ready to become an early riser, and ready to change your diet, check out Steven Pavlina’s two articles on the topic. How to Become an Early Riser and How to Become an Early Riser – Part II.

Upgrade your gut feeling

Can you upgrade your gut feeling? Is that even possible?

I think so.

Find the people that you would like to operate more closely to and hangout with them. If you can’t hangout with them, read their books, essays, watch their videos or listen to their podcasts. Do this as much as possible everyday. Even more than you are comfortable with.

Remember what Seth Godin wrote, “Doing the best I can is actually not the same as, ‘doing everything I can.’ When we tell people we’re doing the best we can, we’re actually saying, ‘I’m doing the best I’m comfortable doing.’ As you’ve probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable.’ 

You might only be dedicating ten minutes per day to reading, but is that all you can do? You can probably do a lot more. Upgrading your gut feeling is not easy, and it certainly won’t happen anytime soon with a weak effort.

As time passes you’ll begin to notice yourself thinking and acting differently. You’ll say and do things that you’ll recognize from the people that you’re trying to be more similar to. That’s a good thing. That was your goal from the beginning.

Immerse yourself in the world of those that you admire. Poor decision making comes from being immersed in the average. Most people immerse themselves in TV, sitcoms, TV commercials, radio commercials, radio music, Netflix, their complaining coworkers, and their complaining friends. That’s why they think the way they think. You can’t really blame them. Their gut feeling has taken the shape of their influences. If they’re hungry, they reach for the Doritos.

If you decide to upgrade your gut feeling, in terms of health, you’ll know it’s working when you reach for the raw almonds, over the Doritos, when you feel like having a small snack.

You can upgrade your gut feeling in regards to almost anything. There are people already living the way you want to live. All you got to do is find them, listen to them, and begin doing what they advise.

Leaders are born or are leaders made?

Leaders are born. Or, is it, leaders are made? What’s the answer? Like usual, it’s probably a mixture of both. Nothing is ever black or white. There’s always a little gray.

Seth Godin believes that leaders are made. Seth is talking about the workplace, so he’s likely correct. I would agree that leaders can be made in the workplace if properly trained.

Magic Johnson believes leaders are born. Or, more accurately, you’re either a leader or not when you come into the NBA (usually 18 – 21 years old).

Two seasons ago the Los Angeles Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell with the #2 pick. He has the talent to become an All-Star caliber player. Tons of players are drafted during the draft, and a vast majority go nowhere, while a very small percentage go on to have successful NBA careers. An even smaller percentage become All-Stars. The Lakers, of course, were hoping that Russell would live up to his talents.

During Russell’s rookie season, you could see glimpses of his potential, but he didn’t get much playing time since Kobe Bryant was in the midst of his last season before retiring. Last season was Russell’s first full season where he saw plenty of playing time. It was also the first season where Magic Johnson (President) and Rob Pelinka (General Manager) would be in charge. They got hired to hopefully turn the Lakers around, and back into a winning team.

Magic took the job determined to bring the Lakers back to winning. Immediately, he began evaluating each player. Magic wanted to know which players would make great pieces on a championship team. Winning a championship is the ultimate goal.

Throughout last season Magic watched the games, talked to the players, attended practices, and went to workout sessions. He found out what he needed to know.

A few days before the NBA draft (Lakers again had the #2 pick) the Lakers made a stunning trade that sent Russell to the Brooklyn Nets. Many fans felt that it was a bad move (initially me too). That was their #2 pick of only a few years ago, and those are hard to come by! He still had tons of potential (only 21 years old)!

It became clear that Magic had found out what he needed to know, and that he didn’t make a terrible choice. Lonzo Ball had worked out for the Lakers twice, as a draft prospect. Lonzo plays the point guard position, like Russell. He’s big for the position, like Russell. Lonzo is 6’6″ while Russell is 6’5″. Lonzo also has incredible talent, with his passing abilities shinning bright, like Russell.

After seeing Lonzo work out for the Lakers and after hanging out with Lonzo’s family for a day, Magic saw the difference between the two talented young point guards.

Lonzo Ball was a born leader.

Lonzo Ball’s college coaches praised his leadership skills, and so did his parents (he was the oldest child).

On the other hand, Russell was questioned many times throughout the season regarding his leadership skills and locker room presence. Magic knows what it takes to win a championship. Magic knows that the point guard, on a winning team, needs to be a leader.

On draft day, Magic and the Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with their #2 pick. Both had incredible talent, but Lonzo Ball had the right mentality. Ball was a born leader. Magic Johnson found his point guard. As a Lakers fan, I hope Lonzo does well and lives up to his expectations.