Executive chef Martin Hamann, a Morton native, has no illusions about his profession, writes Alfred Lubrano for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hamann, executive chef at the Union League of Philadelphia, has spent many years standing in front of hot ovens, hoisting 50-pound bags of potatoes, performing endless culinary calisthenics, and working 14-hour days.
“This is hard-core physical labor,” said Hamann, 60. “A chef is absolutely a working-class job.”
Hamann – his mother was a telephone operator and his father a baker – was always drawn to kitchens. He tried cakes, but lacked the temperament for baking. He studied at the Restaurant School, now known as the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. He did some work abroad, then went on to a 25-year career at the Four Seasons, rising to executive chef, before coming to the Union League.
Married with a college-age daughter, Hamann said he never forgot he was a working-class guy “cooking for the elite” at the Four Seasons. One Christmas, he was running out of food as people kept ordering steaks.
“I’m in the kitchen wondering, ‘Why aren’t they at home with their families today?’” Hamann said. “That’s a separation of class. The upper class eats steak at the Four Seasons at Christmas. We stayed home.”
Read more about Martin Hamann and other chefs in the Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.