It’s become apparent to me that there’s two distinct and discreet groups of “kitchen guys” (this also includes the ladies, who in my experience are twice as tough as the most veteran of line guys. Because they have to be). But that’s a subject for another time.
There’s the old school, hard core “yeah, I’m bleeding. I’ll be with you as soon as the glue sets”, running triage and cauterizing their own cuts to get back into the action and not let their team down people. The committed. The passionate. The die hards, who give everything and take nothing.
Then there’s the new bloods. Who show up for their pay cheque, cut corners in the name of speed, and have no respect for the business, the ingredients, or the customers. This is directed at you, you insipid jack offs.
I’m not your baby sitter. I’m not here to tell you what to do when a ticket rolls off the printer. That sound should be hard wired into your brain already. Printer=game on. If I can hear it when I’m taking garbage out, I know you can hear it when you’re 5 feet away. I’m not here to teach you how to sauté. If you want to know, ask. If you don’t care, get the fuck out of my way newbie. Go back to trying not to fuck up calamari, and trying to understand how I’m grabbing your fryer basket when it’s done based solely on sound.
Yes. I can do that. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Please, ask. I’ll tell you that you can hear it shift in sound exactly three times which is exactly when it’s done.
Stop shaking my fucking sauté pans. Stop. Touching. My. Station. Don’t touch my mise. Put inserts back exactly in the order you found them, asshole. Don’t touch my tongs. They’re laid out for raw, cooked, chicken and veg in a very specific order so that I can find them blindfolded, weeded, and without thinking. Same goes for my cloths. One for section cleaning and wipe down. One for plates… You know what, just avoid any part of the line that’s within my arm span. That’s mine. I’d piss on it to prove a point, but then I’d need another rag that you’d probably use to clean plates.
Tonight I saw the unforgivable… A cook, finishing plates with a specified allergen. When I called him out on it, he just replated, leaving the dish that came into contact with the allergen in the window. Less care, less dedication.
The old school guys, we hold our word as sacred… When we say “3 minutes”, that’s up, in the window, finished. Not a ” leave me alone, I don’t know “. Respect and honor is a commodity that’s disappearing fast, lately. Too many fans of Hell’s Kitchen, who don’t know anything about what Ramsay actually advocates, let alone who Thomas Keller is, or why you should worship at the altar of Per Se. Too much anger that’s directed nowhere. Just to be that yelling asshole who needs to seem in control instead of taking control.
That’s the big “aha” moment. Or at least it was for me. When you’re really in control, you don’t even need to raise your voice to be heard because the world waits for your words. Trust me when I say, if I need to be heard my voice will shake the walls. That’s the difference between cook and Chef, new blood. The world hangs upon his voice. You fight to be heard. The less you fight the more ground you will win. The less you yell… Maybe you’ll find your niche to lead.
Chef isn’t a title. It’s a skill set that’s bound up in creativity, leadership, respect, and honour. I’ve met a lot of cooks who have “chef” embroidered on their jackets. I’ve worked with a few cooks who are great chefs. I’ve worked with great leaders who despise the word chef, when it’s applied to them.
Your passion for food is what fuels you. Your inspiration for creativity is what drives you. Your lust for the fight keeps you coming back everyday. It’s always a war of inches. Your pay, buys ingredients and clears the rent. BUT… New blood… If none of those ring true… Get out now. I’m better without you. A pack of wolves is as strong as its weakest member. There are a thousand other jobs that will tolerate your lack of fire. This job is not for the weak, and it smells weakness like burning bread left in the oven.
The tiger and the lion may be stronger. But the wolf does not perform in your fucking circus.