“Oh my god!” I gasp and cover my mouth with my ov-gloved hand. Jackie, the assistant pastry chef, and I both freak out at the sight. One of the other cooks, Chuy, a hulking culinary genius, is rapidly transferring boiling hot stock from one pot to another. We watch as he misses the bowl he's holding and pours an entire ladleful over his hand. The stock runs down his forearm and on to the floor. The only sound he make is a slight “Tsst” sound out of annoyance rather than pain.
“Doesn’t that hurt?! Are you OK?” I say, stunned. I would have lost my nerve due to my intense allergy to pain.
“No, it’s not that bad.” He laughs and pours another ladle of stock. More blazing hot liquid washes over his fist. Chuy doesn’t seem to notice.
Working in a kitchen requires an almost super-powered level of pain tolerance. I’ve gotten by so far with only minor nicks and burns, nothing major, which is surprising considering my knack for hurting myself on a regular basis in life. Yet, the worst I’ve suffered so far is accidentally picking up a red-hot spoon that had just come out of the oven (it was being used to pin down a piece of parchment paper). Lucky for me, I came out of it with a minor first-degree burn, nothing I couldn’t work right through.
“It’s not pain until you get home and have time to think about it,” notes Hillary, a cook in the banquet department easily identified by her punk aesthetic. Her arms are a Smithsonian of pain, covered in scars of every color, size, shape and texture. These are proud medals of life in a place where one must exist in a sharp, slippery, and molten-hot world.
Everyone told me that before the internship was over I would have my own scar. I was able to escape body intact though the kitchen was very vocal on the movement to brand me on my last day.