A Splash of Humor and a Dash of Asshole

Kitchen

LOVE…….is not an ingredient

cock_soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Love…..is not an ingredient”

You can’t put “love” in any recipe I have ever worked with. People that refer to “love” as the most important ingredient, should not be cooking. They fall into the same category of people that make such ridiculous comments as “this is like an orgasm in my mouth,” or “food is better that sex.” I don’t want anything I cook to be compared to love or sex. It is possible to passionate while cooking a dish or to love creating things in a kitchen, but love is not an actual ingredient. If you are a shitty cook, throwing a little “love” into your dish will not help it.

Cooking as a career is about passion and desire but the actual act of creating food in a kitchen is about technique and ingredients. There actually are not  many “great” cooks in the world. Chemicals and immersion circulators have there place in professional kitchens, but modern innovation will never surpass classical technique. A cook should always be able to pick up a protein, season it accordingly and cook it perfectly in a pan.

Cook WITH “love” but don’t rely on “love” to save your shitty dish.


Kitchen Zen

There are moments as cooks where the craziness of a kitchen suddenly becomes silent. Times when the the fast paced, balls to the wall kitchen life suddenly slows down and becomes peaceful. These moments are often short but very sweet. Let me preface by saying, none of these are true if you are behind in your day. If you don’t arrive at least an hour before your shift, you will probably never experience any of these moments. Also, if you are a talentless, slow, worthless piece of shit cook, stop reading now because all of this is simply a fantasy you will never experience. You should go get high and drop off that resume at 7/11. Maybe you will someday write an amazing blog about Slurpee Zen, but you will never experience any of these sweet, sweet times. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Pre Service

– Peeling Garlic
– Plucking Thyme
– Skimming Sauces
– Trimming Filet
– Frenching Chops
– Removing Pinbones in Salmon
– Slicing Chives
– Flipping out Your Mise into Clean
Pans
– Crossing the Final Things off of
Your Prep List

Mid Service

– Clearing the Rail
– Slicing Meat and Realizing it is
Cooked Perfectly
– When You’re Fully Weeded and You
Look Up For a Second to See a Hot
Blonde with Ginormous Bazookas
Being Ushered to Her Table
– Tasting a Perfectly Reduced Sauce

Post Service

– The First Ice Cold Beer
– The Second the Shitty Food
Encrusted Boom Box Gets Switched
Back On
– Hearing the Covers Count
– Switching the Lights Off and Hearing
the Door Close Behind You

Let me further explain by stating that none of these are a guaranteed moment of Zen. Most of these things can be a huge pain in the ass if you’re not in the perfect situation. But then again, if you would have shown up earlier you could have probably stopped to enjoy them. I almost forgot the most Zen-Like moments ever………….Getting a Blow Job in the walk-in.

Now please enjoy these photos I boosted from former dishwashers’ Facebook pages. They are the hardest working motherfuckers on the planet, but they also play hard. I’m sure you can tell.

20111204-063036.jpg

20111204-063058.jpg

20111204-063117.jpg

20111204-063155.jpg

20111204-063245.jpg


Chicks………. My Homage to Female Cooks

 

Respected for her net worth? Yes. Respected for her cooking skills? No.

Respected for her awesome boobies? Yes. Respected for her cooking skills? No

There is no such thing as an average female line cook. They are either complete badasses or pretty much worthless. There have been a few select women that stick out in my mind as being instrumental to what food has become. They have overcome what is often considered a “man’s world,” and made a name for themselves. And those women are:

Alice Waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Shaping west coast cuisine, leading the organic movement, having one of the most amazing restaurants of all time, making people think about what they are eating and where it came from, first woman to ever be named the James Beard Foundations Best Chef in America (1992)

Alumni: Mark Peel (Campanile), Dan Barber (Blue Hill), Judy Rogers (Zuni Cafe), Suzanne Goin (Lucques), Jeremiah Tower (Stars), Paul Bertolli (Fra’ Mani), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), Michael Tusk (Quince), April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig)

Julia Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Encouraging people cook good food at home, making French food approachable, bringing food to television, inspiring so many people

Judy Rodgers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Authoring one of the most useful and well written cookbooks of all time, making the simplest of foods elegant, the best roast chicken of all time

Suzanne Goin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Bringing Los Angeles back into fine dining, working her employees hard while accepting nothing short of perfection (I was one of them),  being a leader in the fresh/local food movement

Resume: Chez Panisse, Olives, Alain Passard

Elena Arzak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Expanding the legacy her father started in Spain, innovative cuisine, running one of the most successful and highly acclaimed  restaurants in Europe, being insanely talented

Resume: La Gavroche, Louis XV, Pierre Gagniere, El Bulli

Nancy Silverton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respected for: Making the best bread in the world, bringing the bakery back into the spotlight, branching out and bringing artisan style pizza into California cuisine, awesome hair

 

Summary

I have had the opportunity to work with and for some amazing women in my career. They have had an amazing work ethic along with great attention to detail. The funny thing is, the best pastry chef I have ever worked with was a heavy metal loving, semi-alcoholic, unshaven dude.

BONUS:

THE GREATEST MUSIC VIDEO EVER MADE


Chef’s Wives

Are you married to a chef, or thinking about dating one? Do you understand your role as a chef’s wife? Let me go ahead and lay it all out there for you.

1. Do not complain about the hours we work. The more that you whine and bitch about the long days and absent nights, the longer we want to stay at work. We will find extra shit to do before we leave to buy a few extra minutes of peace before going home and listening to your bullshit. Another thing, if we say we will be home at 1 and we walk in the door at 2, please don’t ask why we are late. We were busy.

2. Do not call the restaurant to talk to us unless it is an absolute emergency. Emergencies are limited to someone being dead, almost dead or something being on fire. The worst thing you could do would be to call the kitchen to ask what time we are going to be home. This actually happened to me a long time ago and the kitchen phone was subsequently thrown at the wall and broken. Trying to reach us on our cell phone is also unacceptable. Having your man pick up his cell phone on the line is putting his life in extreme danger. He will be either verbally or physically abused and you will be to blame. The one exception to this rule is a simple text message letting us know that you can’t wait until we get home so that you can blow us. Any call or text of a sexual nature is always accepted and greatly encouraged. You can be our “sexual sous” anytime.

3. Do not expect us to come home and cook you a tasting menu. When we cook at home we don’t want the same pressure we have at work. It’s like asking a stripper to give you a lap dance when she gets home, it’s just not happening. Another thing, please don’t try to make us five-star meals at home. We want you to cook us the stuff that we know and love. We would much rather have you make us a casserole or your famous beef stew, than try to make some sorry ass attempt at coq au vin. Stick to what you know, it’s called comfort food for a reason.

4. Please do not tell us how shitty we look or how bad we smell when we walk through the door after a long shift. You think we don’t know our hair is messed up and we smell like crap. The combination of fryer grease, sweat, raw garlic and fish residue will never be the new Drakkar Noir. Trust me, we know that. How bout you throw those clothes in the laundry and bring me a cold beer while I take a shower.

5. Don’t touch our knives or tools. Get your own set, and only use those. My wife couldn’t even tell you what my knives look at, and that’s the way it should be.

If you can live with these things, then go ahead and marry that chef. If not, go to your local bank and find your new man there. He will pull those long 9 to 5 shifts and come home in his shirt and tie every night. He will probably be stoked on that shitty chicken recipe you jacked from Rachel Ray too.


Twilight: The Dirtbag Line Cook Saga

Team Edward?  No way

Team Jacob? Not a chance

I am Team Alex.

This dude is a bad ass. He worked for a major record distributor for a bunch of years, and lived a life most of us dream about. He partied with rock stars and got paid to do it. When the record business went to hell and his company shut down, what did he do? Did he find another high paying job in the music industry? No, he packed up his briefcase and went to culinary school. He worked hard and finished school only to find himself making minimum wage and tossing salads. Wait a second, that doesn’t sound right. He found himself working the pantry station at a decent seafood restaurant downtown. He spent his days shucking oysters for the masses, all the while keeping a smile on and having a great attitude. I watched him move his way up through the lunch stations and eventually find himself committing the culinary cardinal sin. He volunteered to transfer to the pastry department as an assistant. He immediately fit in and found a new home.

That’s enough about his life history. This tale is not about how nice of a guy he is or how hard of a worker he is. This is about the day he proved to us all that he was a crazy motherfucker. It all started with a dare to “go big.” He was challenged to pound a glass full of beef blood. Not so crazy you say. This was not a glass of fresh steak loving, it was the blood that collected at the bottom of the cryovac bag of a wet aged strip loin. The shit was thick and brownish looking. Not something most people would willingly drink. The best part about the whole thing? It was all caught on tape.

Nice work Alex, you managed to impress me and our fellow soldiers that day.


Dear Waitstaff, Revisited

Last year I posted a letter to all the waitstaff of the world.  The purpose of the letter was to voice all of the frustrations we see on a nightly basis from behind the line. Over the past year I have noticed quite a few additional things to add. So here we go again:

Dear Waitstaff,

I am choosing to write this letter in order to make both of our nights a little better. First off,  please do not touch food in the kitchen unless it is on a plate and in the pass. I know that you might think that pot of risotto might look like it needs a quick stir, but please do not touch it.  Tell someone in the kitchen you think it needs some attention. If you are right, we will thank you for noticing. But if you are wrong, please be prepared to be told to fuck off. If you want to taste something, just ask us. Never taste food off of a plate in the window or grab a bite of any prep laying around. Nothing pisses us off more than watching you snag a french fry off of a plate as you pick it up to run it. Seeing that happen makes me want to fling a saute pan at your head. Next, we ask that you never touch our tools or equipment. We both know my knives are sharp, shiny and pretty to look at, you don’t need to pick them up to get a better look. I don’t touch your wine key or super fancy pens, so leave my shit alone!  One of the worst mistakes you can make as a server is to order food for yourself when we are busy or even worse, 5 minutes before we close. I know you might be starving and that you just worked a hard, 3 hour shift. How about you treat yourself to a Big Mac on the ride  Next, we don’t give a shit if you got tipped a buck fifty on an 8 top, so don’t whine to me about it. I’m sure your fellow front of the house stallions would love to hear your sorrow, but not me. The thing that pisses us off the most is when you fuck up a ticket and instead of accepting responsibility, you come up with bullshit excuses. Having too much to drink the night before and not being able to focus enough to ring in your order properly is no excuse. Neither is being overwhelmed by having too many tables. You may have six or seven tables of demanding customers, but we have 20 tables worth of tickets in front of us. It’s not a cock measuring contest. my point is just that being busy is no excuse for messing up tickets.

In closing, we really do like you guys. We know you guys have to deal with asshole customers and meet high standards. We understand your job is not easy and you work hard. All we ask is that you respect us and appreciate what we do night after night.

Love,

The Kitchen Staff

P.S. If you mess up, all can be repaired by purchasing us an adult beverage after work.


True Kitchen Stories: The Tale of The Iceman

Before we begin, let me tell you that this story is 100% true. As much as I wish it didn’t happen, it did happen.

First let me give you a little backstory about the busy downtown seafood establishment in which this story takes place.. The restaurant was big and busy. The highlight of the place had to be its massively heaped oyster bar. It was the first thing that you saw when you entered the front doors.  Not only was it awesome to look at, but we sold a shitload of oysters, day after day. For awhile they were served with a cucumber mignonette on the side, until the day we realized we were tired of the same old thing. We dreamt up a granita made with citrus and vodka, and upon tasting, it was damn good. The next day new menus were printed and there it was. And now, on with the story.

We were going through a time in the restaurant of new employees coming and older employees leaving.  We frantically tried to quickly replace good employees with the best people we could find. This tale is about one of those new “green” employees, let’s call him Mr.J.  Mr.J was the typical Southern California kid. He had the whole “California Bro” package. Blonde hair and a very “Spicoli” attitude.  His only real problem was thinking he should be put on the hot line right away instead of being stuck in pantry like he was. We tried him on the line a few slow nights and he failed miserably. He was slow and made “amateur” mistakes. Things like selling the wrong proteins with the wrong veg or even selling two orders of fish on 1 plate. He was not the smartest guy in the world, but he tried and I liked him.

On this particular night, he made one of the stupidest mistakes I have ever seen made in a professional kitchen.  We were pretty slow on the hot line, but the pantry was getting killed on oysters. I sent one of the cooks up front to help shuck and unweed the pantry station. What he came back and told me will haunt me the rest of my career. He told me Mr.J was selling shaved ice with the oysters. I responded my saying that we had changed the mignonette to a granita and that was what he was serving. The line cook then explained that he wasn’t using granita, he was just using shaved ice. I was dumbfounded. “Where the fuck is he getting shaved ice,” I said. The response “Whenever he gets an order, he is scraping the ice off of the sides of the deep freezer walls into a ramekin and selling it.” I was completely paralyzed. I wanted to stab him in the neck with a fork and cram him into the very deep freezer he was scraping away at. My mind quickly switched to that of panic. How many orders had he sold with freezer wall granita on the plate? His response when confronted about his stupidity? ” I didn’t know, I thought it was just shaved ice on the plate.”  Damn was this guy the opposite of smart. Zero talent and even less common sense.

Somehow after being written up and reprimanded he kept his job and actually got better. He started making better decisions and was on his way to becoming a decent cook. We still had to listen to him complain about how he should be working the hot line ever so often, but there was no way any of us wanted him there. He eventually transitioned into working the pizza oven for a few more months and then turned in his notice because he was moving back to California. I told him good luck and had him fill out a separation agreement that we have all employees fill out before leaving. Under the question asking his reason for leaving, he wrote “Life is too short to work the oven station.”  With that kind of determination, he will have a show on the Food Network in no time.  Maybe they call call it “Cooking with SlowCal.”

I’ll take fifty-one percent of the blame for the infamous ice incident. It was ultimately my responsibility to ensure he was properly trained on his station before turning him loose. The other forty-nine percent is completely on him. Common sense should tell you no restaurant in the world is going to serve shaved freezer ice.  The moral of the story is to ask questions if you’re not sure about something. You might get ribbed a little for asking a question that you should know the answer to, but at least you wont be put on blast for the whole world to read about how stupid you really are.