A word my new chef throws around a lot is "love," and when he says that he means paying attention to details, going the extra mile, making it perfect. Pondering his use of that word got me thinking about my relationship with my old kitchen, which by the end of my stay had certainly evolved into "love" in one of the other senses of the word.
When I first started, I was, quite naturally, The New Guy. I didn't know what was going on, where things were, what I needed to do. I often felt incompetent and out of place. Even knowing one of the other cooks before I started didn't help me feel like part of the family. Despite the overall positive energy of that kitchen, there were times when I got so down on myself that I wanted to leave the job. Ironically, the night that my friend left our kitchen to move to another state was when I started to really become a part of the kitchen. I've never been able to figure out what about that night made it transformative; it could have been me loosening up and having a few drinks with everyone else or maybe it was just being part of that combination ceremony/celebration/parting of ways. After that night, I got more and more involved in keeping the kitchen going and trying to improve our food. I started contributing more specials and developing dishes. I became somehow emotionally invested in what we were doing, which naturally lead to giving more "love" to everything I did there. I don't think that kind of caring attitude can't be invented or imposed. For me, whether it develops or not has everything to do with love for the kitchen, which itself surely has unknowable roots.