“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.
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:
– Peeling Garlic
– Plucking Thyme
– Skimming Sauces
– Trimming Filet
– Frenching Chops
– Removing Pinbones in Salmon
– Slicing Chives
– Flipping out Your Mise into Clean
– Crossing the Final Things off of
Your Prep List
– Clearing the Rail
– Slicing Meat and Realizing it is
– 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
– The First Ice Cold Beer
– The Second the Shitty Food
Encrusted Boom Box Gets Switched
– 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.
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:
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)
Respected for: Encouraging people cook good food at home, making French food approachable, bringing food to television, inspiring so many people
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
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
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
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
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.
THE GREATEST MUSIC VIDEO EVER MADE
1. “Culinary Artistry” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
This book is a must have reference material in any chefs arsenal. It comes in handy every time I am working on new menu items or specials. The format of the book is an alphabetical listing of ingredients with a group of complementing flavors listed for each. It also contains various tasting menus and individual dishes from the nations top chefs.
2. “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain
This is the book that started it all. It brought kitchen life out of the restaurant and into the mainstream. It glorified 10 to 12 hour days in hot kitchens. This is the book cooks read and enjoy, as well as the book you make your girlfriend read so that she may better understand what you are passionate about. Bourdain does such an amazing job at capturing what life is like as a cook, while at the same time explaining it in a way that most people can understand.
A great account of the career of the hardest working chef of all time. Marco Pierre White is a God among cooks everywhere. The book contains stories of his early years coming up in the industry as well as his extreme sacrifice to get 3 michelin stars. It’s inspiring to read about his level of dedication and passion for food. He kicked pain in the ass diners out of his restaurant, which is what we all wish we were able to do on many occasions throughout our careers. He is such an inspiration and this book will explain why.
4. “Service Included” by Phoebe Damrosch
This book can best be summed up as a memoir of a server during the opening of Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. It is fascinating to read about everything from why there are neither music or artwork in the dining room, to how the waitstaff are trained. She tells stories of V.I.P. tables, wine tasting with master sommeliers and even meeting the Chef himself. The stories family meals at Per Se will blow your mind.
5. “On Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee
This book is THE book that anyone interested in food must own. It explains everything from why ingredients do certain things when cooked, to why alcohol makes you drunk. It will answer pretty much any question anyone could have about cooking. It is the perfect book to turn to when a recipe just isn’t working or if you’re just looking to improve an existing recipe. It is the bible to anyone with hot pans and sharp knives!
Before you read this, please watch this most awesome video and really listen to it’s killer message.
Did you listen closely to the lyrics? Did they blow your mind? Let me preface this post by stating that I have no beef with vegans or vegetarians. Pun very much intended by the way. I actually find it a bit admirable that someone can go through life without the joys of pork or a cheeseburger.
The problem that I do have with veggie huggers is when they feel the need to explain their reasoning for abstaining from sausage. Pun intended again. I don’t want to hear about the slaughtering of innocent cows and how they have feelings too. I don’t want to hear stories of meat being murder and dairy being rape. Please just eat your tofurkey and soyrizo and leave me alone about my two all beef patties.
I have done my reasearch and do my best to only seek out and purchase sustainable meats and those raised humanely. I do not support large, disgusting factory farming. I am not one of those cooks that gets pissed when a server asks what we can do for a table of vegans or when I get a ticket for a risotto with no bacon or butter. I don’t lose it and start complaining about how the dish won’t be acceptable without meat. After all when you really think about it, they will be paying the same price for the dish when my cost is about half the original price. Vegetarians make so much sense when it comes down to business in the restaurant industry.
I love you guys. And please don’t feel like you need to explain your choices to me. We are all free to choose what we eat. Peace and love, peace and love.
“In the weeds.” Most non restaurant working people will probably never understand this term. They probably will never understand the true talent it takes to get yourself out of the weeds either. My wife often asks “How do you remember all those tickets and orders during service?” My usual response is “I have to.” The key is to keep yourself organized. We have all worked under chefs that you dread pulling tickets when it gets busy. They either can’t handle the stress and bury themselves in dropped calls and double fires. It is very frustrating. But we have all seen the beauty of someone expediting that knows what they are doing. It is a pretty impressive thing to watch. Let me explain what being weeded as a Chef really entails.
I worked in the heart of Los Angeles at a 350 seat Italian restaurant with three banquet rooms that sat an additional 500 when they were at capacity. Let’s fast forward to the week before Christmas on a Saturday night. A big technology company had rented out all three banquet rooms for their holiday party. Right off the bat it’s 500 people to feed in the middle of the rush. What, the oven in the banquet kitchen went down? That will make things a bit more interesting; I better go get a reservation count from the host stand. What I received is a number I will never forget, 817. That’s a guaranteed 1,317 people to feed in between 5 and 11. It’s only 2 right now so I go into crisis prevention mode and hop back with Gio to start banquet prep. Now it’s 4 and I feel like we are as ready as we will ever be. I greet the cooks as they roll in as I prep my expo station. Sharpie, extra rolls of thermal paper, roll ups to wipe plates, various bottles and containers of garnishes and a pitcher of ice water. I roll around for a final walk through of every station as all the cooks have the same question for me. What’s the number? They are not looking for 817, they get the answer they are looking for when I respond with a few simple words, “we are going to get bent over.” Let’s pick up the story at about 6:15. First course for the banquet is going out as my line cooks are freaking out at the banquet chef jockeying for space in their ovens. Every station is so deep in tickets no one knows what is going on, they are just doing everything they can to keep up. I have about forty tickets fired with another twenty or so in my hand. How do I know I’m officially weeded? The trail of tickets coming out of the printer has draped down to the floor and is neatly in a pile next to my size 12 Danskos. It must be another 30 tickets. I see no end in sight. Some chefs might have taken this moment to pause, stop calling tickets and try and let their soldiers catch up a bit. Not me. I keep calling and calling. Giving all days and selling orders all at the same time. Next thing I know I sell enough tickets to get us caught up. I look at the clock. No way it’s midnight. Pedro, the banquet chef tells me how crazy the party was and every mistake that his boys made. Total bummer, I can’t wait to catch a ton of heat from the banquet captain at any second. I make my rounds, prep list, fish order, produce order, notes for Alfonso who opens in the morning. I turn the corner to get into the office to call these massive orders in. . David, the previously mentioned banquet captain corners me. He proceeds to tell me ” you guys killed it, nothing but happiness from the guests.” Dodged a bullet there. I make a mental note to lie to Pedro and tell him I took care of everything and smoothed it over. I can’t let that guy think the crap he served tonight was acceptable. Ya, I’m going to be that guy tonight. So what, by doing this I know next time the food will be quality. Before I go change and hopefully drink enough stress away to try and get to sleep, I stop and check the final numbers in the computer. No way, 1,211 covers plus the banquet equals 1,711 people fed in 5 short hours. We were seriously screwed at multiple points throughout the night but we all made it out alive with no major problems.
This is what we all live for as cooks. Just call us weed whackers. Nevermind, don’t call us that or we might cut you. And for you cooks out there that crumble on nights like these. You know who you are. Mr. broke down and cried during service. Or you Mr. I burned myself and had to walk off the line in the middle of the rush. I have some advice for you. Take that chef coat off, put on some tight pants and a vintage tee shirt and go get a job slinging clothes at American Apparel. If you don’t love being in the weeds and the challenge of getting out of them, you will never make it in this business. On second thought, if you can’t handle the stress become a waiter.
I am choosing to write this letter in order to make your lives in the restaurant easier. First off, please do not touch food in the kitchen unless it is on a plate in the pass. I know that you might think that pan of rice might need a quick stir or taste. Don’t touch it, on second thought don’t even look at it. Next we ask that you never touch our equipment. I know and you know my knives are sharp and sick as hell you don’t need to pick it up to find out. And you know this, son. Another favor I have to ask is please don’t order food when we are busy or 5 minutes before we close. I realize you had a hard shift and are dying of hunger, next time all we ask is to wait till you don’t see us totally weeded. Or if you choose to try and order at above said times, please offer a reasonable bribe. A simple ” I will spot you a cocktail after work” should suffice. Next, we don’t give a shit if you got tipped a buck fifty on an 8 top, but I’m sure your fellow front of the house stallions would love to hear your sorrow. In closing, we really do like you guys. We know you guys have to deal with a hole customers quite often or the lady that is pissed she just found a ladybug in her beautiful organic greens. I don’t think our requests are too much to ask. Much love, and no hard feelings.
The Kitchen Staff
P.S. Thanks for always having cash when were thirsty at the bar after work.