Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hippity Hop For Jesus

Here's a question. If this "god" is so benevolent, why does Easter Sunday brunch exist? The absolute distillation of the worst Sunday brunch crowd + 40 years. Cute little old ladies with one foot in the grave wearing revoltingly stupid hats. God fearing good Christian/ Catholic men in their best Sunday navy blue suits and ties, doing as they're told so god will keep their little secrets secret so they won't lose their inheritance or their country club golf buddies. My favorite are the bored teenagers who would all rather be getting high away from their families, and then munching out on chocolate later. People over the age of seven saying " Happy Easter". Ever walk into a dining room packed with old ladies in hats? If you close your eyes, you'll think you fell into a barrel of mothballs.
I have to admit, I care less about the food on Easter brunch than even Thanksgiving, but not less than Valentine's day. . The whole point of these traditional torture sessions is to mollify the traditional masses and slop it out we will. Half the portion, twice the price, ahhhh there's IS something redeeming in these swill fests.
Here's a link that expresses what I wish all Valentiners and Easter brunchers would make tradition. You might have to scroll down a'll know the one.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Good Cop/Bad Cop

My Sous Chef of many years has moved to New York. I can't blame him as New York is the greatest dining city in the world. Paris you argue? Try getting 2 with chili, cheese and kraut and a Yoo-Hoo by the Thames . It ain't gonna happen Gus. He did his job above and beyond and always will. His talents will be missed and I wish him all the best. He was one of the "1 in50." Anyway this blog is about the unsung heroes of the restaurant kitchen. The Sous-Chef. For those of you lucky enough not to be raised by this business, the Sous Chef is the Chef's deputy. His right hand man. His lieutenant and nine times out of ten, his confidant. He executes the Chef's words and gets them into action at whatever the cost to himself or others. He will work circles around anybody on any station, better, faster and only thinking about what's next. The good ones anyway.
Just starting in my kitchen? I'm not gonna talk to you. Who's this piss ant? Not until you prove yourself. Nope, my Sous Chef will handle that. If you don't like how he talks to you, fuck off and die. He hurt your feelings? Good. I want him to. Who do you think you are? An individual? Oh're either a asset or a liability to the pursuit of cuisine and if you have thin skin, you're a liability. I love hearing cooks whine about the Sous Chef. Awww....can you do as much as fast without question? Stop bitching about people with commitment, principles and pride.
The best one also possess the all important quality of clairvoyance. They know what you want before you ask for it. They finish your sentences and don't say.." You didn't say to..." I know. I thought it. I spoke to a colleague of mine who said he has to let the Sous Chef go because he's been there for 7 months and he can't finish his sentences yet. My question is, what took so long?
Bear this in mind when you want to cry about the Sous Chef. He's the barrier between you and me. You think he's an asshole? You haven't even seen shit. He's actually the good cop. Doesn't seem like it does it? My Sous Chefs operate at a consistent level of aggression. I operate at two levels; Controlled chaos and absolute psychotic rage . When I'm that pissed, I feel like killing you. I'm not joking.
Good Sous Chefs don't drop the ball. They don't question what you want, they just do it. They get it done. I am grateful to all my Sous Chefs over the years. They're all mean, rude, hyper and don't give a fuck about anything but the job to be done. I'd love to see them all get together and kick the shit out of Norman Rockwell.
You guys fucking rock. Keep up the good work and remember, if everyone hates you, you must be doing something right.

May The Force Not Be With You

Hey here's a question that's been driving me nuts for about 10 years. Where the fuck is the work force? I'm serious. Have you seen the uncaring lot of cooks being pumped out? I mean what the fuck man? I'm sure this apathetic approach to what lazy, non ambitious people call "pointless careerism" ( like there's some stigma attached to pursuing a passion or career) has infested every business, but since I don't know every business, I'll stick to kitchens. Don't you like when you're working, and you can hear the crunch of an improperly sharpened knife across the kitchen? And this is square one! If you can't sharpen a knife, you can't cook! Why? Because cooking is principle. A minced shallot is not a hacked up shallot. If you don't do it perfectly (or at least try) every time on principle, you're pretty much worthless to any Chef worth a fuck. When you hear that fucking crunch, don't you just want to grab the offending "knife" and throw it in the trash with the great words of wisdom, "you're worthless". Of course what we normally do is snatch the knife away, feel the edge, shake our heads in disbelief and say.." so...what are you doing to my product, I mean...besides destroying it because you don't care or are too stupid to notice raggedy edges that aren't perfect?" Sniveling bunch of time wasters. Remember this future " Chefs", if you don't care about perfection, you suck. Why? Because you're satisfied with mediocrity and mediocrity is easy. There's no challenge. Another personal favorite is teaching station setup and specific dishes. Umm...where's your notepad? Oh, you're going to remember it all. Ok, cool.....don't ask how and don't fuck it up. We're all watching and waiting to say.."Why didn't you write it down dumb-ass?" My personal favorite is the blase look on their faces when you explain something. You know the look. The look of "Uh. This is soo boring...I'm sooo above this, but I can't work under pressure, or with precision or skill. Nor have I ever really cooked anything before......Look, I just want to be a Chef ok? I don't want to waste all my time on this "technique" bullshit." Ok Escoffier, do you think you could at least set your station up just CLOSE to sensibly?And keep it clean and tidy because you're a pig. You know what goes through your head when you get a fire call? All the shit all over your station.
My absolute favorite is..
" Why isn't this finished?"
" I didn't have enough time Chef."
" But you did this last week. You mean, you're not twice as fast this week?.So you don't push yourself?"..Wow. You really suck.
This new non-work force is really enthusiastic too. Really into the art/craft of cooking.
Welcome to Hell you non-ambitious lazy asses. Tony Bourdain summed it up in Kitchen Confidential when he said " A good line cook never shows up late, never calls in sick and works through pain and injury." 27 years in this business and I've been late 3 times. I've never missed a day of work. Ok one. A girl really pissed me off, so I got in my truck with my dog and a bottle of Wild Turkey , drove to North Carolina and had a fucking blast!
I had a crybaby tell me once, " I just don't know if I'm doing good." What are you? A fucking puppy?..Good boy, here's a bone. My Sous Chef responded with..."Well, you're still working here aren't you?" Fuckin' pussies.
Here's a bit from Slammed magazine, written by Michael Gagne and some of it attributed to again, Anthony Bourdain. I'm not sure if he wrote the whole piece or not but it sums up more perfectly than I ever could, about how you're viewed in a kitchen.

"the kitchen is the last true meritocracy. Here, you are what you do. Simple ability determines whether you are an asset or a liability; a culinarian or a ham and egger. Respect is a direct reflection of sharpnes of knives, of the efficiency of movement, of tidiness, punctuality and, especially, of the ability to perform under pressure. In the heat of the kitchen, cars, girls, lifestyles and personal idiosyncracies become irrelevant. Those are nothing but fodder for politically incorrect banter that fills the verbal void left behind the instructions, orders, demands and requests of the resident tyrant. Your's Truly."

In any field, ANYTHING in life, you simply KICK IT'S FUCKING ASS! Lead or stay behind. If you prefer to stay behind, you're a fucking loser. Cooking is a passion. If you don't pursue it as such, with every fiber in your're passionless, and you're going to be shitty at everything you do.