Sunday, October 31, 2004

Death Before Dishonor

Think we're lowly kitchen scum? We are. But you know what?, We take more pride in what we do on a daily basis more than virtually any other "respectable" occupation you can think of. We are are own harshest critics. Personally, I hate people. I know from my posts this might be hard to believe but bear with me, it's true. Think that because of what I write here that I take customers for granted and treat them like shit? Wrong. I love and hate everything about this horrid business and will sacrifice anything and everything for it. Burned out? Maybe. Jaded? Definitely. Enough to let a minute detail go unnoticed? Not on your miserable life. It's that long forgotten virtue(?) called pride. Sure the whiney, pain in the ass,needy motherfuckers drive us all to the point of madness. Sure the sacrifice we all make on a daily basis is enough to also make us think"I have to get out of this shit", but when it comes down to it, when you strip away all the bullshit, all we have left is our pride in what we do. I'm not talking about sellout shoemakers, I'm talking about cooks or ANYONE who has the slightest vestige of principle in what they do. When a dish fails either in conception or execution, for that brief instant my life is ruined and I am shit. There is no"getting over it". There's no "Aww dude, it's not the end of the world". Yes it is fucker. Granted, these feeling pass but it grounds us and let's us know that we actually care about what the fuck we're doing. That in itself is a great feeling. That brief realization after the self flogging ends to know you actually give a shit. It's one of the hardest parts of this odyssey. The majority of people tell you how great everything was and all you do is rip apart the things you felt could be better. "Ohhhhhhh...the souffle of sea urchin was like Heaven!" And all I think is, Heaven? I don't want that! I want you to feel like you wiped out in a wave and ate the beach! Therefore, I think I failed. To me Heaven just doesn't sound that glorious.
My point is that after all the headaches, all the insulting ridiculousness, we already have seen our shortcomings and are ready, willing and able to do our own version of better next time. Most are willing to settle for something less. But for us, settling for "good enough" is a personal affront. I think all my work is garbage. Maybe I've set my personal standards too high and it drives most of my kitchen staff nuts, but as far as I think, if you settle for good enough, you've less importantly let down your diner(they rarely notice) , but you've failed yourself. A simple thing like a dinner roll can destroy an entire evening. ONE ROLL!!! If a poorly risen roll is ever served, it negates all the other things you've pulled off. No one sees it but us. Everyone is happy except us. It's truly strange that bunch of predominantly foul mouthed, uncaring, harsh, egotistical sociopaths actually care so much about what they do. It's admirable and honorable and I am fiercely proud of caring so much about what we do. Cooking. We feed people. What is more important and communal? Nothing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once years ago had black mussel souffle that was beyond Heaven. The whole time I was eating it I was back in my childhood at the specific beach I grew up on. I could smell the beach. I was picking mussels. Tidepools riffled. There were seagulls. I couldn't figure out how the taste of it was so transcendent and yet so anchored in reality that it seemed like its creator had reached right into my brain and yanked out my memories. Now, when I have nostalgic memories of the beach and picking mussels and bodysurfing for hours until my lips turned blue, I also think of that souffle.

-- badgerbag

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually have some sort of response that is not total agreement. In this case all I can do is agree. Everything that needed to be said has been in this post. I have no doubts that you are a true Chef in all senses. Your passion for your work is truly evident and I have great repect for you. Bravo Chef

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss you! Looking forward to another post . . .

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading that, for the next week I`m gonna feel guilt eery time I enter the kitchen.
By the way, I kindof get the picture of the shit restaurant staff have to suffer... My dad is a horrible asshat in situations as minuscule as having a cashier shortchange him. I`ve seen him go apeshit and I can only imagine what the offended staff member feels.
Propz, dude.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



7:32 PM  
Blogger Mr_sligo said...

I thought I was the only one. I started catering for myself last year and my clients are always surprised to learn that I am rarely happy with how things turn out. You sound like the voices I hear every morning when I am on my own. the voices of the Chefs I have had the pleasure and honor of working for. They push me, they rebuke me when I make a mistake. Nice to see that I am a part of a larger clan, one that does not settle, and that I am not only normal for feeling the way I do, but that it's something commendable. Keep Buggering On.

1:37 PM  
Blogger answer-man said...

ps I'm having a little trouble sending comments so if I do it twice please excuse me and I apologize.

3:51 AM  

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