Do your shit and do it well
You look at restaurants like Noma and Alinea and think, “ I could be doing that… Why am I not doing that? Why am I just working in this tiny, small potatoes restaurant. I could be doing so much more.”
STOP! Before you think yourself into a crisis!
Yes, chefs like René Redzepi and Grant Achatz are doing some amazing and beautiful things with food, but they didn't get there overnight. Everyone in the restaurant industry starts at the bottom of the ladder. That’s how it works. It’s a hierarchal structure, where you need to put in your time and dedication before you’re able to move up. Not everyone will make it all the way up to international fame. It’s simply impossible and that shouldn't be the goal.
Instead of worrying what you could be doing, worry about what you are doing. Be present in your work. Do it the best you possibly can. Make that grilled cheese fucking beautiful! Peel and trim that 50lb bag of carrots in record time - because you can.
Do your work the best you possibly can. Pour your heart and soul into it. The customer will notice and, eventually, you might get some of the recognition you so crave - if only on a local level. When one of your customers says,”I love all of the soups you make here. I've never had a bad soup from you… They just get better each time.” you know you’re doing something right. And the fact that someone actually noticed the labor, the love, it’ll make you feel on top of the world.
Focus on what you are doing and what you can do to make it better, instead of what you could be doing. Don’t get caught up in the drama of what your competition is doing. Feel free to look at what the celebrity chefs are up to, but don’t let yourself become so jealous that you can’t do your own work. There’s enough daily stress in the restaurant work as it is. So, just focus on your shit. Thinking too highly of yourself is a distracting disease that will cripple not just your work and motivation, but also your relationships - personal and professional. The discontent becomes toxic and people will try and avoid it like the black death; lest they too become afflicted.
Be humble in your work. Sure, you may just be cooking pasta dishes in a chain restaurant, but do it well and it can take you somewhere. Remove your ego from your work. Look at things objectively and identify what you can be doing better. Then, do it better. The future will come. It’s what you do now that will affect it.