I’m a top-class chef and it’s not like The Bear on TV: I’ve heard of chefs doing drugs and banning customers who complained about their spaghetti – but our real addiction is to cooking

The hit Disney Plus The Bear has captivated streaming audience  showing the chaos of life in a busy restaurant kitchen.

Described as a study of the ‘insanity of the grind’ and the beautiful ‘sense of urgency’ that runs through kitchens, the show has inspired many viewers to begin careers in the notoriously frantic industry. 

 But how true is it to life? Top pasta chef Roberta d’Elia has worked in kitchens in and around Europe for 20 years. 

She’s now the head chef at Pasta Evangelists in London and MailOnline asked her to spill the beans on what life as a chef is really like…

Top pasta chef Roberta d’Elia has worked in kitchens in and around Europe for 20 years

Roberta d'Elia the head chef at Pasta Evangelists in London and MailOnline asked her to spill the beans on what life as a chef is really like

Roberta d’Elia the head chef at Pasta Evangelists in London and MailOnline asked her to spill the beans on what life as a chef is really like

There’s a lot of misconceptions about chefs. 

Shows like The Bear and Gordon Ramsay‘s Kitchen Nightmares paint a picture of a kitchen that is often unrealistic. 

Never ask a chef if they have seen either of those things. A good chef doesn’t have time to watch TV, they’re in the kitchen.  

Chefs are addicted to long hours and hard work. We work ridiculous shift patterns and never stop thinking about food. Cooking is a drug and if you aren’t hooked – you won’t go far. 

I started out as a chef twenty years ago and have worked my way up to where I am today learning from the best in the finest kitchens in England and Europe. 

When I started out in the industry it was still dominated by men. 

At the beginning of my career male chefs did not treat females with the same respect in the kitchen. I was given simple jobs and pushed to the side often. When I asked to help, I was told it’s “difficult.”

Eventually I said: ‘I’m not asking you how difficult it is I’m asking you how to do it.’

Chef Roberta said the industry was dominated by men when she first started out

Chef Roberta said the industry was dominated by men when she first started out 

'Chefs are addicted to long hours and hard work. We work ridiculous shift patterns and never stop thinking about food. Cooking is a drug and if you aren't hooked - you won't go far,' said Roberta d'Elia

‘Chefs are addicted to long hours and hard work. We work ridiculous shift patterns and never stop thinking about food. Cooking is a drug and if you aren’t hooked – you won’t go far,’ said Roberta d’Elia

If you are a woman and you want to build your career and build a family, it is a very hard job. 

I decided to carry on on my career and give up on my family and I’m happy with decision.    

I started out in Puglia, Southern Italy in a classic Trattoria restaurant and fell in love with pasta. 

Truth be told, I am always thinking about pasta. Last week on holiday my partner snapped at me and told me to switch off because I was talking about what I had left in the fridge at the restaurant. 

You’d think after working sixty hour weeks you’d want some time away from food but the truth is none of us can ever really switch off – it’s all encompassing. 

Chef Roberta started out in Puglia, Southern Italy in a classic Trattoria restaurant and then 'fell in love with pasta'

Chef Roberta started out in Puglia, Southern Italy in a classic Trattoria restaurant and then ‘fell in love with pasta’

Chef Roberta said it's an open secret that some chefs rely on drugs to get them through busy periods

Chef Roberta said it’s an open secret that some chefs rely on drugs to get them through busy periods

The pressure is intense and working in a team environment there will be flashpoints. 

I can be a bit of a Gordon Ramsay with my team. I’m sharp, but after every service we congratulate each other on surviving and thriving. Then we clean up and go again.

We put the pressure on ourselves but it’s also real. If someone else has a bad day in the office they forget about it, if we do we ruin someone’s night and lose a customer. 

You can’t lose focus. At all.  

When you are a chef, the thing that you really don’t want to lose is your patience, because when you’re patient about food, that is what really gives you that energy and the strength to carry on. 

I have never done it or seen it while I’m working but its an open secret in the industry that some chefs rely on drugs to get them through sessions. 

I suppose it sharpens them, but I don’t think they need it. If you need drugs to get you through your job you’ve already lost the passion, so what’s the point. 

That being said, we have our limits. 

Chef Roberta at the beginning of my career male chefs did not treat females with the same respect in the kitchen. I was given simple jobs and pushed to the side often

Chef Roberta at the beginning of my career male chefs did not treat females with the same respect in the kitchen. I was given simple jobs and pushed to the side often

'Truth be told, I am always thinking about pasta. Last week on holiday my partner snapped at me and told me to switch off because I was talking about what I had left in the fridge at the restaurant,' said Chef Roberta

‘Truth be told, I am always thinking about pasta. Last week on holiday my partner snapped at me and told me to switch off because I was talking about what I had left in the fridge at the restaurant,’ said Chef Roberta 

I once worked with a very proud Italian chef who I won’t name who barred a customer mid service for asking about his pasta.     

It was just a plate of spaghetti and the customer was really, really on it. 

Eventually he snapped and told him it’s simply a Spaghetti pasta but that he won’t be getting any as he was so picky.  

With our job you can easily explode – like I said, we have our limits. 

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