The feedback is unrelenting, deadlines come by the minute, physical and emotional torment is routine, and self-criticism is a defining trait.
For chefs who hope to introduce something new to the marketplace and please an increasingly demanding clientele, you wonder who has the strength to carry on.
Fortunately for Richmond diners, here are six examples of chefs hopeful about finding willing taste buds, open minds and a little love for the kitchen crew.
Enter the Experience
Addressing the ideal dining-out mindset.
Dining Room at the Berkeley Hotel
"In a dream world you'd have a bunch of English majors who worked in restaurants writing the reviews. Somebody told me years ago that everybody should have to work in either retail or restaurants — they're professions where you can get totally shit on. If it's something you go on to write about, it's something you should have experienced."
"You have to be yourself. There's a chef culture where everybody has a big presence, loud and tattooed and this boisterous personality that comes out of chefs when they get together. I'm certainly the opposite of that. Making good food is what makes you stand out."
Maya Mexican Grill & Tequila Lounge
"Mexicans don't eat the way people in Richmond think they do. I don't use any manteca [lard]. We don't overpower our recipes with spices — it's nice to have a little kick of spice and a hint of poblano. That's the beauty with playing with all these peppers. If you use them well, you can taste all of the other ingredients in your dish."
Pomegranate (Coming this winter)
"The scary thing about this business is, once you get into it, you'll never get out of it. It's a tough lifestyle. You're on your feet whether you're in front or back of the house, there's lots of pressure, you're working when everyone else is having fun … If I could keep my kids out of that scene I'd be happy."
Belle Vie European Bistro
"To me it's gambling. Don't lose the taste of the food too much. You need to know what the people want. Sometimes the chef doesn't want to change, but I think the chef must please the customers."
Fresca on Addison
"I don't know if it's because we're in the South with a lot of meat and potatoes people, but sometimes I have to convince people to stay when they see kale pizza on the menu. You're making all this food that you hope people will buy. It's not like jewelry where you can sell it online for 10 years, you've gotta sell it tonight."