I started my food career back in the 50s when City Hall was across the street from the YWCA and the Mayor came for lunch most days. I had all the basics: no pre-oackaged food, better than average service and white linens. It wasn't top drawer, but it wasn't Kresgee lunch counter either. It was okay, but I didn't really fall in love nor appreciate fine dining until I walked into a huge commercial kitchen mangaed by a authentic executive chef who was born in Germany before WWII. When I had the time I studied him because he made the art of cooking and plating look easy and fun. That was the era of prime rib, aged steaks and French Roquefort.
Nothing stays the same. The French chef Henri did marvelous tricks with fresh veggies, sauces and pastry to die for. The Spanish chef had marveous soups, and the Italian chef - what can you say bad about regional Italian foods. About that time I came to the realization I did not have the upper body strength nor the stamina to open my own as age was not my best friend.
I walked away with longtime friends, great recipes and an exposure to wonderful foods and cooking techniqes/tools from around the world. Now it's foam on a plate instead of Rediwhip and USDA beef grades that are a mystery. I wish I was back in the commercial kitchen but I don't envy any executive chef today as the workload has to be astronomical.
Here's and old kitchen toast to my friends:
May your kitchen alway be clean,
May your fires remain hot, and your temper cool
And may you never cook your own goose.
Two more holidays and we're out of it for one more year. :-)