PERSPECTIVE FROM THE INSIDE.

Travis Limoge
7 min readAug 3, 2021

Each day as I wake up the first storm I have to weather is the battle in my mind about whether or not I love what I do any more, not the act but the title. I spent my childhood dreaming about the day I could dawn a chef coat and work side by side with a brigade of sullied cooks turning raw ingredients into creations that would comfort our guests into a state of tranquility mustering memories of the past.

For a brief moment this dream was a reality. In my teens I would wake up early in the morning throughout summer break, as well as on weekends during the school year, and make my way into a kitchen in which I had begged a job on a lucky day where the dish washer did not show up. I would join a crew of callused palmed cooks pounding coffee while pushing through the morning prep for the impending battle that lie ahead in brunch service while regaling stories of last nights debauchery. I remember thinking that the diners sitting on the other side of the walls of this 15x15 kitchen, closed off from the neatly arranged dining room adorned with the dressings of a fine French Bistro, could not possibly imagine the magic of this world where a small team of ruffians were so enchanted by creation and the products with which they worked that they would toil away for hours on end never interacting with the people consuming their work or asking for approval.

Maybe it was naivety paired with a lack of perspective that I thought this world could exist outside the walls of this oasis I had found, or that this was the reality of the entire industry. I felt that I was living inside an ecosystem where all parts of this wonderful being played a role in, and were rewarded for, its success, we followed the guide of our leader based on his knowledge, acquired through his years of experience as a cook, and the fact that he was by our side manning the helm each night wearing the same burns and scars as the rest of the gang. Each person had earned their spot on the team by showing their worth through hard work and commitment to the family we had created and its mission to bring proper sustenance to human beings through technique forged in the fire.

As I wandered out from this cocoon of purity I was faced with a mixed bag of both complete lawlessness, and some form of what I had experienced before, but, all of it seemed to be evolving rapidly towards a collection of reality TV shows battling for rankings, pumping out episodes to feed an increasingly disconnected mass of beings who lost grasp on what food truly is due to the modernization of society and a necessity to consume as fast as possible to continue punching the clock rising towards “success”.

As with any fad a wave of vultures swarmed in to take advantage of the moment, culinary schools popped up like Starbucks speckling the landscape with establishments that promised they could teach you in 2 years what hard working men and woman had toiled away at for decades to master, allowing you to bypass the traditional due diligence straight to a position with a clip board and a neatly pressed coat with your name embroidered across the chest.

It is absurd to think that in any other line of work such a thing could happen, can a law student graduate and become partner in a firm? But somehow what we do was always marginalized, a “fringe job” for those who “can’t decide what they want to do” or, are “working their way through college”. And as such, a school some how legitimized the profession, making it part of the capitalist machines verification process, where you need to carry a piece of paper to prove you know what you are doing, and the old guard was placed below the soldiers of the newly “evolved” system.

I realize that these vultures are not new, neither the system of schooling. They have been waiting in the wings with their rules and regulations about the functioning of a kitchen, formed by opinion and ego, planting their seeds quietly, backed by accolades given by privileged scribes paid for by advertising dollars.

With the wool pulled tightly over the eyes of the consumer they created a false sense of opulence by means of confusion. Introducing ingredients as more important due to the lengths they have traveled, presented on fine china, paired with wines from decades past, they painted a picture of excellence by using big words and fancy treats the laymen had never seen.

Looking like an incestuous family tree the origins of these modern day practices can be traced back to a few monoliths who created rules because they said so, with no scientific or ecological justification necessary as they were the ones wearing the crowns. The “peons" yearn for a chance to climb the ranks and become part of this culinary monarchy with hopes of sitting at its helm one day carrying on the myths, finally achieving their turn at oppressing. As such, so continue the ever churning wheels of reinterpretation under the guise of homage. Year after year the same dishes find new life through the hands of a disciple brain washed to believe the extent of creativity is rearranging a list of ingredients with your own personal flair.

With the recipes of old firmly engrained in the brains of the masses so decided the leaders that only certain ingredients shall be valued, farmed, and processed for consumption. Distilled down lists of natures bounty arrive via excel spreadsheet to be ticked off for delivery without ever considering their origins or the damage they may be impacting on the soil in which our existence relies. The cycle continues to increase velocity as less educated candidates continue to climb the ropes unchecked year after year creating a machine reliant on navigation by inputs from fossils who’s aim has been to steer the ship towards profits for so long they have lost grasp on the reality and regard science as myth.

This carbon belching system of the uneducated educating deals death portrayed as indulgence through caloric intake while destroying natural resources by way of unnatural selection. To quell calls for change the machine aggregates new marketing terms designed to comfort the uprising consciousness back into its fetal position as a consumer, happy to believe the labels, as it is too tiresome to investigate origins or push forward a movement where a community decides what it should rightfully consume.

Now in this new era, where those who burned the midnight oil behind walls hidden from plain sight have been replaced by fresh faces which pair better with the goals of fortune set out by the neoliberal puppet masters, we face the grim reality that repatriation of both recognition and wealth to the founders of this nightmare are the mission at hand, to be executed using any means necessary, truth and consciousness need not be employed.

As holes poke through the hull from outside sources who muster the courage to speak out about the problems are met with the insurmountable army of boatswains who have signed on to this belief that the goal of creating food for consumption is monetary and that winning recognition, stars, or affirmation from peers will bolster their chances at success. As such they are ready at moments notice to repair all damage with words of reassurance for fear they may too be exposed, and compromise their own future on the thrown. The battle against this crew is futile, it will continue to thrive as with each passing year the number of brainwashed seem to double as the north star shines brighter on a trend whos only end is profits for few, disease, destruction, and ecological collapse for many.

The future is dismal inside the current construct. There is no way to walk back what has been done or adjust camber to realign the path to the future while those who created the system continue to hold seats in the castle. A revolution is not a question it is a necessity as the resolution can not wait, we are well past the point of a path to equanimity through trial and error. Egos must be vanquished, power must be stripped from the process of accreditation, and both ecological and biological education must become the focal point for the way we reinvent the industry of consumption. Those who currently hold guard must be held responsible and either admit they lack the knowledge or fortitude to fight towards rebuilding an equitable system or relieved of their duties if they refuse to concede.

It is dire that each letter of the “rule book” be called to question for not only its validity but its necessity, its scribes analyzed for their valor, vocation, and objective. If the world consumes based on the desires of expired elite is it not just that we seek the reasons why? This question, if asked to the conductors of the orchestra, would be answered with a firm no, for consumers don’t hold the accreditation to postulate such matters, the reality is neither do the conductors yet they continue to call the shots ringing the death knell with each plate of facsimile.

For those stationed in the brigade whom know the truth and feel its pull the time is now to stand for justice. Fear not that you will be looked down upon by your brain washed peers, professional approval should be the least of your worries when those whom employ you continue to scourge their supporters through pay inequality and caloric warfare putting at risk both their present and future survival. Speak loudly with righteous indignation about the falters we face, for silence will perpetuate the destruction, the collapse is nigh we can wait no longer for solutions, we must draw a line in the sand and begin to devolve using mutual aid as our compass and symbiosis as our north star.

--

--