content by

Alexander Weinstein

The Chef’s Life

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

Sometimes, I miss the pirate crew who make up restaurant kitchens throughout America—a motley gang often comprised of chefs and waiters who are secretly filmmakers, actors, musicians, writers, and artists. I miss the way we’d finish a grueling shift, serving a hundred hungry diners, and we’d settle around the bar after work and talk about one day writing the great novel, or hear about the documentary the busboy is filming in his spare time.

From 1997-2008, as I wrote the stories which would lead to Children of the New World, I worked everything from line cook to executive chef, catered weddings, and lived the overworked, 60-hour-a-week life which is common to chefs. My jobs paid the bills, and I paid for my writing with sleep deprivation. I had gotten into cooking by chance. I was living in Portland, Oregon, at the time, working an awful job taking care of developmentally disabled convicts who had been kept out of prison because of their mental illnesses. I was being paid $7.25 an hour to keep felons from attacking people. It was a thankless, miserable job which was so emotionally draining that it left me no energy to write—so I finally quit.

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