Line Cook Chronicles

Mark Mendez
Food essays, stories about working in a professional kitchen, and various meanderings of a chef without a kitchen.
Created 02 Jun 2021
  • Gioco December 2003
    29 Sep 2021 • 15 min read • 2 2
    This week I wanted to share what it’s like to work in a really busy kitchen, a really busy kitchen. This is a pretty normal day at a lot of restaurants, and yes it can be intense. I even left out thin...
  • Eggplant parmesan.
    22 Sep 2021 • 4 min read • 3 0
    I started working at an Italian restaurant in Evanston while still in cooking school. It was a casual place, a spaghetti & meatball kind of place. It was close to Northwestern, and we were really busy...
  • Cooking school in the nineties.
    15 Sep 2021 • 6 min read • 2 0
    In 1990 the top single was Milli Vanilli’s Blame It on the Rain, George H.W. Bush was president, and Cheers was the number one tv show, that should tell you a lot about how the 90s were starting and h...
  • I tend to think too much.
    08 Sep 2021 • 5 min read • 4 1
    There was a time I wanted to quit working in restaurants. This was many years ago and the nature of working at a restaurant was becoming a grind to me. To be honest, I never really liked the idea of g...
  • Carnivale
    01 Sep 2021 • 5 min read • 3 2
    Carnivale will always hold a special place in my heart. Even though it was an enormous source of stress and frustration at times. It seems so long ago, the world seems much different to me now. I had ...
  • Carnivale
    18 Aug 2021 • 9 min read • 4 2
    I had to jump through a lot of hoops and there was a lot of drama in the year preceding opening Carnivale, that’s a tale for another day. Let’s just say who was going to be the chef at Carnivale was n...
  • Carnivale
    11 Aug 2021 • 10 min read • 4 3
    In 2005 I was working at an Italian restaurant named Gioco in the south loop of Chicago. It was a very busy restaurant and I was one of two sous chefs working there. It was so busy at times I felt lik...
  • Out of the pan...
    04 Aug 2021 • 7 min read • 3 0
    I was thirty years old when I arrived in New York City and I felt having lived in Chicago, I was no stranger to big city living. It’s not like I was some bumpkin. But from the first five minutes of my...
  • New York, New York
    28 Jul 2021 • 7 min read • 3 1
    Last week I talked a little bit about my first day at Spiaggia and basically how scared and terrified I was when I started working there. I want to jump around a bit and fast forward to October 1997. ...
  • How It Started
    21 Jul 2021 • 10 min read • 4 6
    I stepped into the kitchen at Spiaggia and knew my life would be different from here on out, I was a professional cook in a very professional kitchen. Even though my stomach was in knots, I was somewh...
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