I was a chef for 25 years and yes, it was worth it. Yes, its long grueling hours, the pay could be better, and sometimes you take a lot of crap from coworkers or insubordinates-BUT I also found it exhilarating, creative, spontaneous, and just plain satisfying.
there is nothing in the world like seeing the look of satisfaction on someones face that is eating the food YOU cooked...or from a recipe YOU created. THAT, my friend is pure gold. Or having an idea that works out more brilliant than you could have imagined....a small case in point. I worked for a very demanding owner and she came to me one day, needed 2 quarts of traditional potato salad for a dear friend. We actually never made potato salad because the owner thought it was "beneath us"...Yeah, I know..weird...ANYWAY, I made potato salad the way I make it at home but with a few changes since there were some ingredients we didn't have on the premises..the extra(its impossible to make EXACTLY 2 quarts of potato salad off the cuff) I put to be served for the lunch rush.
When the owner saw a small bowl of it on the line, she came to me and chewed my butt..Potato salad wasn't a rich enough food to be serving at HER establishment....well guess what? People who ate it demanded more and started ordering it for catering. She came to me, looking a bit chagrinned and asked me what the recipe was..I told her there wasn't one, I made it up as I went. I used our own homemade mayo instead jarred stuff, whole grain Dijon mustard instead of the plain old yellow stuff, etc. Long story short, MY off the cuff potato salad was now selling by the gallon every weekend every summer for several years after that. You cannot buy the feeling of pride I had seeing something I made suddenly be all the rage with the rich little old ladies who frequented our establishment.