Thursday, March 17, 2005

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude You Rock,

I would bleed, sweat and cry tears of joy to work under someone with integrity. I have worked with some of the tuffest in the biz and still do it everyday.
From old school guys that throw a pot at your head for burning a sauce, to new jacks who have earned there chops and arn't scared to burn you with a spoon to show you that the butter you were basting with wasn't hot enuff. I am happy too see there is still someone out there with pride. No one... and i mean no one can talk smack like you and not have done backbreaking work for most of there life. Coming from a cook/sous/dishwasher (you know whatever is called for) I know where you are coming from and I reaally wish I could work with someone like yourself. Here is a quote I know most kitchen guys know hopefully you know it also. It comes from a movie named Jaws "Hooper drives the boat chief". There are some of us out-there that do give a shit, I even know a few but lately and mostly I've seen bullshit cooks and even more bullshit chefs. It really is a shame when you care and it seems everyone else dosn't
You Rock
Thnx for giving me hope in someone

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*snort* These people should be reminded that everybody else has to bust their asses to get where they are, and they aren't any different. Just because their parents were willing to assure them that they were The Absolute Greatest merely for existing doesn't mean the rest of the world is obliged to do the same.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, I'm all in favor of jumping people into the biz.


12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you just love it when a mother eating dinner tells you here son is going to school to become a chef?! You don't go to school to become a chef. You go to learn the basic fundamentals and techniques of cooking. None of which will be mastered by the time you leave because they cram you so full of shit you only use once. Most of these "graduates" don't even last two years. "I'm not on TV yet I quit. This isn't what they said in school." Also I'd like to say dish-dogs, pearl-divers are a dying breed, if you have one that's reliable you'd better treat them well. It really sucks doing a ton of covers and racing back and forth to do dishes. Good cooks are a dying breed too. Too much time watching the food network and Rocco!!!

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Chef,

I discovered your blog while on a quest for food porn. I'm currently stationed in Iraq and miss my kitchen and my Chef TERRIBLY. (One weekend a month, MY FUCKING ASS!!!) Some of my burn scars are even starting to fade, and the hair on my forearms grew back while I was still in the US getting ready to come over here. Dammit. That wounds my pride.
Your rants have truly touched my soul. Over the last three days I have read everything you've written and finally today I came to the end. I almost didn't want to read the last entry just because, like any really good reading material, I didn't want to be done with it. I never realized how much I truly love cooking for a living; being part of a pirate crew is a joyous thing.
Please, Chef, keep posting.

---Tank Girl

4:11 AM  
Blogger FoodNinja said...

Hear Hear.

I too find the same problem..
Q.when will this be done? soon as I can..

Me. This is what you have to do___
Them. Uh hu.
Me. Now repeat it back to me.
Them. __ __ __ __
Me. What about __ and __
Them. Oh Yeah..
Me. Your still gona forget arnt you?
Them. Ya..

6:36 PM  
Blogger The Food Whore said...

Oh my GOD you hit the nail on the head!

It's not just the kitchen staff. We have that in the waitstaff, too.

Hired a new girl, put her through the paces. Gave her a menu, told her to take it home and learn it and come back an expert.

1 week into the job and she still didn't even know what side dishes we offered. When I asked her if she studied the menu like I asked, her response was, "So, like, do we have to share tips?"

You don't, dumbshit. You don't work here.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. I've been holding off on my waiter post for a while as mine have been behaving themselves lately. I actually caught one of them doing something right!. This "work force" actually..( and I'm being totally serious) makes ME want to get out of the business.
Good blog as well.
And nice name.


3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If good chefs are so dedicated to the job and you purposely ditched work to drive to NC then you must suck too. You sound like a real asshole to work for. Glad I'm not in the food industry.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's makes millions of us that are glad you're not in it too.
You sound like the whiney assed, pointmissing crybabies we hate.


2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. It's not just your field. There's a total dearth of young, hungry talent out there and I really can't explain why. You wanna field a guess?

I'm 23. I'm working two research jobs, making a ton of dough, and doing what I can to start leaving my mark on the world before I keel over. My childhood friends are currently:

1) Just out of the marines, picking up his life where he left it -- with 16 year old girls and fucked up every day;

2) In jail for check forgery due to pot addiction;

3) 3 kids by the age of 24;

4) Living in mom's basement playing video games doing the 6-year through college;

5) Newly converted vegetarian with dreams of joining the peace corps.

The rest didn't make it far enough to even keep in touch. Pisses me the hell off.

And what's worse? Having this career makes me some sort of outcast, ostracized because I want to do amazing things. People at my gym -- and yes, girls are scared of muscle these days, which I figure is an outgrowth of the same thing -- will praise me, saying, "Wow, Nate! That's amazing!" Friday night comes? All alone. Shit.

Anyway, my colleagues are all over 50 and we're the out-of-town eggheads who drop in wanting a table for 14 without having made reservations. Thanks for accommodating us with stellar food so we can verbally shred each other over a good dinner.


7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck 'em all.

I love people in gyms. My favorite are the people that spend a fortune on flashy workout outfits, straps, belts ..the whole nine yards so they can walk around the gym drinking bottled water, offering to help spot for chicks.
Whole fuckin' worlds full of nimrods.

I've always said, you gotta be pretty stupid to get busted for pot.


9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is important not to hurt the feelings of your kitchen staff. Have them leave there feelings at home, in the parking lot, in there locker, I don't care...if what they are doing is not good enough it has to be fixed. Once. If I have to show you again I can't keep moving forward. What you did yesterday is not good enough today and what you are doing today will not be good enough for tomorrow.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This has to be best food blog around, shame we never heard any more.. oh well. Ive got a cool one going now. Hope you can catch up with it

10:56 AM  

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