A Tale of Two Careers: In Music and Food

Video of Jim Carrey’s commencement speech at Mararishi University recently went viral and after seeing it re-posted multiple times a day on my wall I finally watched it. It is a great inspirational clip but I took exception to one part of it. He says that a person makes decisions out of love or fear, and sometimes that decision is fear disguised as practicality, noting that his own father took a job he didn’t like because he was afraid of failing at being a comedian.

This would mean that
A) making a compromise for your family isn’t a noble thing (it is)
B) people can’t have more than one passion in life.

I have a full time career as a chef and a full time career as frontman/songwriter/booking agent/PR person for my band, The Tressels. I get rewards from both or should I say I seek rewards from both because let’s be honest, the line for Powerball tickets isn’t long because everyone is 100% satisfied with their careers.

A lot of songs are informed by stories of people I work with, and at any given show, the audience is made up of past and present co-workers, which is funny because for years I never told my colleagues that I was musician because going to see the “guy you work with’s band”, is almost as tempting as a trip to the DMV or to the dentist.

All the nightmares you’ve heard about working in a kitchen are true and put side by side with being an independent working musician, they pretty much require the same skill set. The hours are long, you have to lift heavy things, you rarely get to eat good meal, and you have to deal with hostile crowds.

One thing I didn’t have before I started working in a kitchen was patience, and strangely enough, despite our hot-tempered reputation, cooks are some of the most patient people I know. You know the rush is coming, no use getting upset about it. This has translated to my music career as well. “Why hasn’t (insert venue, magazine, blog) gotten back to me? Oh well, on to the next one.”

I also wasn’t great at taking criticism before I worked in a kitchen. Having your dish picked apart 10 times before it even reaches its intended target really helps soften the blow when you send your brand new, pride and joy song out into the ether to be picked apart by whoever, wherever, whenever.

Writer and all around bad-ass Harry Crews once wrote, “If you can cook and tend bar you can work just about any day in any city in the country.” I got into cooking because I was pretty much unemployable in a regular 9-5 job. I needed to be with the misfits, the outcasts. That’s also why I started playing music in the first place. I was a loner and I found other loners and we became a group. I’m lucky to have music to turn to when work is a pain in the ass. I’m also glad I can cook to well, feed myself obviously, but also to stay organized and keep a roof over my head. Love or fear, we all have to make decisions, we all have to work for a living, the trick is making a decision that keeps your spirit in tact.

Butch Tressel is the lead singer of The Tressels. They are currently fundraising on Indiegogo to record their next album, Bury Me American. Click here for more details!


  1. Lauren S

    August 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I love your connection between a career in music and food. And I agree, sometime decisions that we make cannot be based solely on our own desires, but possibly family members, etc. If we did, we would be extremely selfish people.

  2. Jess Toth

    August 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I like this man… I didnt watch whatever jim carrey video your talking about, but decisions do go beyond fear and love… watch donnie darko sometime… lol… I agree though, being a cook and a musician works hand in hand, most of the time without even acknowledging it, until your coworker musician decides to post a column online about it… this is pretty cool insight though…

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