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So you want to be a chef
on March 8, 2012
Issue 3 of Lucky Peach continues to be a good read, but this issue isn't as strong or nearly as accessible as the first two. It's the cooks and chefs issue!
What does that even mean? Are there celebrity chefs uttering expletives and regaling us with tales of drunken rampage, cynicism, and life itself? It means that this issue isn't for everyone. Yes, there's cussing. There's also plenty of fantastic stories of and interviews with chefs that range from street food vendors in southeast Asia, to head chefs of Michelin rated restaurants, and everyone in between. There's also some interesting food tossed in for good measure.
If you're someone who is interested in cooking as a career, or wish to have a restaurant of your own some day, this issue is for you. Some of the lessons and warnings you may have heard before, but it's always nice to get a good slap in the face every now and again for a reality check. Especially when it's so well written and in giggle inducing anecdotes. Lucky Peach issue 3 explores a lot of the trials and tribulations of making the career choice of being a cook. "Enroll in the Culinary Institute", they said. "Be a cook, it'll be FUN", they said. Like that old trope on joining the military, being a cook isn't without its share of dangers and unintended consequences. Chang et al share their ideas on what this career (and lifestyle, in many cases), means for them and where they think it's headed. For better or worse.
I'm not a professional chef, nor do I have aspirations of ever being one. I don't know the names of all of the hot restaurants and 85% of the famous chef's names dropped within the first 5 pages. Nor do I care to. There's nothing wrong with people that do follow those things, but my interest in Lucky Peach and food writing stems from a desire to be awesome in finding inspiration to do interesting things in the kitchen, that my family has yet to experience. And that causes a little bit of a disconnect for me with this issue. Entering my 30's, I can totally relate to a lot of the experiences and questions raised when one is figuring out just what the endgame is in any career choice; those things are communicated through the lens of the culinary world in this issue, but they could easily apply to any trade, from porn producer to plumber (same thing?).
Again, it's a great read, but I can see this issue not having as broad appeal as the first two. If you liked the first two issues, buy this. Continue supporting fresh writing and a neat quarterly. If this is the first time for you to read Lucky Peach and are more interested in something like recipes, you might want to get your hands on the earlier issues first.