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Published: Monday, July 19, 2010, 5:18 a.m.

Aptonym: Jeff Kitchen, chef for Daniel's Catering

  • Jeff Kitchen is a chef for Daniel's Catering of Seattle.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Jeff Kitchen is a chef for Daniel's Catering of Seattle.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
A: I didn't have a chance. My family said here's a knife and a spatula and here's a pan. Make some food.
When I started off, I was in high school, so I jumped on the food service train and progressed from there, continuing my way up to the chef position. I worked with some really good chefs, such as the personal chef of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but mostly I'm self-taught.
I was just talking to my grandma the other day, and she reminded me that I was cooking with her when I was 4 years old, turning the pancakes at the stove and stirring the batter.
I've got a son that is 4, and I'm kind of scared to have him climb up there near the hot stove.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?

A: No way. It's my last name, and I was born with it and I'm going to die with it. And it has worked out great with me in job interviews. It's a really good icebreaker.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?

A: It's never been an option. Maybe interior designer for kitchens. For a while, I did get into engineering, but I found myself bored, looking at drawings and typing in coordinates. Food is fun. Food is great, and everybody eats.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?

A: The lip curl. Somebody will hear my name and their lip will curl, and they'll get that half smirk on their face and go “Really?” And, like, I know what's coming.
I've got the answers: Yes my name is Jeff and my last name is Kitchen, and I do work in the kitchen. And I've got that rhyming thing with Jeff and chef, too.
And often in the kitchen when someone might yell for Jeff, I'll turn around, and it could be them saying Jeff or them saying chef, and I'm looking around saying, “Did you say chef or Jeff or what?”
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: I got hired on at this local restaurant, and they ordered jackets with each staff person's last name printed on the back. So my jacket goes up on the rack with everyone else's, and some of the staff saw my last name and they must have thought it was the generic “kitchen” jacket. So my first week there, I'm out of jackets on my second day.
Then the chef asked me what was going on because he had already gotten enough jackets for me, so where were they? We eventually had a meeting and the chef told everyone to leave my jackets alone.
And being the new guy it was really awkward because here's $600 worth of my jackets, and they are missing.

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