Page 29 - Vallet Table - Spring 2020
P. 29

                                 [Being a chef] is learning to live on the edge of poverty.
— Chef Patti Jackson
  Having entered the industry prior to the evolution of chefs into “rock stars,” as she describes them, she wrote her own narrative as a trained chef in a culinary sector that was overwhelmingly a) male and b) French.
“There was so much going on that I didn’t think that much about being a girl then,” she says. “As long as I stayed in the pastry world, more of the challenge was being American.”
Yet for Jackson, who lived on her own at the time, the dangerous dance with poverty was the greatest struggle to overcome.
“[Being a chef is] learning to live on the edge of poverty,” she observes. “That’s part of what makes you a cook, what makes you fall in love with the business.” For her, living paycheck to paycheck was a study in resilience. Not only did it force her to build an admirable work ethic, but it also taught her to appreciate the money-saving value of staff meals and cheap beer after work.
“You have to power through it,” she says. “When I was poor, I worked harder and got better jobs. You have to learn to work with what you’re given, to somehow either adapt or move forward.”
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