The Enemy.

There are those nights where it's all clicking, and it all feels good. No one is in a bad mood, the food looks and tastes great, and the food is going out so quickly that you have extra time to work on projects and get ahead on the next days prep. Then Randy, the burnout server that has body odor and keeps forgetting to mention the fish special comes up to the pass and this happens:

Randy: This pasta was supposed to be a duck.
Expo: A duck?
Randy: Yeah, I swear that asshole said pasta.
Expo: Fire duck, on the fly. It's gonna be a minute.
Randy: Yeah, sorry.

Forty-five minutes go by. It was annoying enough having to drop everything to fly his duck out, but now the rhythm is back. Until:

Randy: I need you to hold desserts on table thirty.
Expo: What? Why? That souffle is coming out in two minutes.
Randy: They're still eating their mains.
Expo: You rang in that souffle almost thirty minutes ago.
Randy: Well they're eating slowly.
Expo: Hold that fucking souffle!
Pastry Cook: Hold it?
Grill Cook: I fucking hate Randy.
Sautee Cook: Yeah, and he fuckin stinks too.

Then the real trouble starts. The Expo, in the fog of rage does this:

Expo: Fuck him. Put that ticket in the back of the slide. He can wait.

You see, the thing is that when you punish a server for making a mistake, you punish the guest. Every cook has a story about a chef or cook that would do this. Tickets get pushed back, or the food is cooked without care--all in the name of hurting the server. The thing is, whether the server is having an off night, or if they're just a shithead, it doesnt matter. The job of the cook is to please the guest--to give them an extrordinary experience. Petty grudges can't get in the way of this. Sure, you can talk shit over a beer with the boys after service, but you have to stay focused on the dining room during service. The truth is, you and that server are tied together--without each other, you are both diminished. Think about this during your next service. FOH is not the enemy. They are on your side--despite any obnoxious tickets or bad timing. And in the rare instance that they're not on your side, you still have an obligation to the guests. After all, they do fund your paychecks...

  • Seven days in a row feels strange. By day five you're tired. Midway through day six you get a strong second wind. On day seven your cold has gotten so bad that you take sudafed and go to funkytown.
  • A tip to folks that want to talk to Alejandro: He speaks English.
  • The ladies love these cooks: Mongoose, Paul, Nick. Not Corey.
  • Your motivation can't come from an energy drink.
  • Please don't mistake me trying to focus with me being angry with you.
  • My rabbit enjoys sitting on her log, laying in front of the heater, and chewing wires.
  • Watchmen. I don't see how the movie can work.
  • Talking to Daniel Patterson about food is pretty cool.
  • The Ting Tings live is kinda cool. On cd they suck ass.
  • Ponder tied the burger record. Atta boy.
  • This blog is going to be updating on Fridays or Saturdays instead of Thursdays. Just a heads up.

conversations and quotes.

Corey: Paulie, the secret word for when you need help is anchovy in my pants.
Paul: How about get the fuck over here Corey?
Corey: I like anchovy in my pants better. Less swear words.

Me: If you want to re-negotiate the terms of your pancetta contract, you better call your lawyer.
Amy: My pancetta lawyer? You mean Porky Goodman?

  • "Dont kick a pint container." -Ponder
  • "You wanna smell my downstairs beard?" -Corey
  • "You want a tubesteak smothered in underwear?" -Corey
  • "Dont you guys read anything other than Maxim?" -Me

From top: Corey's new bandana, Corey's merguez, Ponder doing chickens at 1:35am, Riley and Chef, cabbage, another of Nicks lists, perfect carrots, salt cod, Nick and Corey, guanciale and salt cod, cutting a burger 4 ways (fuckers), nopalito salsas, a cookie from Luis @ Orson, cold medicine, ass, Singapore TV, the burger record countdown, Ponder waits, more burgers, menu writing, short ribs, duck pasta, and sturgeon.


fledgling chef said...

I really, really hope Watchmen is true to the book. Years ago, Terry Gilliam said he'd be interested in making a film of it, but only if he could make it 24 hours long. Time will tell.

A $12 burger split 4 ways? Really?

Matt said...

funkytown is where i want to live...unless its constantly plagued with colds...then i'll probably steer clear...i really like the pics this time around

CHEF said...

I have had the distinct pleasure of being both back of the house and front of the house. FOH, I only lasted about 3 months before I left. After cooking in the kitchen for more than 10 years, I got a part time job at a corporate restaurant to make a little extra money for the family. It was beyond weird. It was like you've been wearing boxer shorts all your life, and one day you decide that you would like to wear a thong from now on. It doesn't quite fit, and just plain feels wrong.
But I learned a very valuable lesson from all the constriction and ass chaffing: To sucessfully run a kitchen, the FOH and BOH needs to be one in the same. In my kitchens, I try never draw a distinct line from one to the next. There has always been too much animosity between the two groups.

- Ha ha. "You wanna smell my downstairs beard"

Matty said...

Good entry. Granted, I was a bit drizzed when I read it, but I literally laughed out loud at the list of who women (don't) like, the "downstairs beard" comment and the "anchovie in my pants" dialogue. I might have woke my upstairs neighbor.

As for the FOH/BOH dynamic, I think Nopa's is pretty good. Having an open kitchen helps, IMO. If you're FOH and you fuck up, you got a gang of hardboiled motherfuckers giving you the stinkeye. You KNOW they know you fucked up. That's incentive to do your job well. Plus we SEE you guys crush it/getting crushed nightly.

Despite the fact that I'm FOH, I've always felt that there's more heart and soul - not to mention balls - in the kitchen. You guys fucking make it happen. That said, so do we. Its a symbiosis. I mean, lets face it, if you were a guest at Nopa on a screaming, 400+ cover night, would you want Corey waiting on you?
Me neither.

John said...

Sounds like corey needs someone to "roll his dice". And fuck a burger split 4 ways. really pathetic!

It's All Good said...

HEY HEY HEY....the ting tings do not suck....

cool blog though, keep it up!

Shashi said...

Halo dear
find ur pics & text , too delicious !!!

miss alaineus said...

who in the hell wants a burger cut into 4 parts??? wtf??? i am ocd and 98% vegetarian but i still eat a burger in whole pieces...

your blog rocks! visit the alemanac anytime.

miss alaineus, who cannot cook her way out of a paper bag!

Anonymous said...

what a great idea for a blog! This is great and plan to follow. :)

The villager: said...

Nice blog.........there's nothing more important than good food, except reproduction maybe.

Justin Smith said...

I'm glad you gave the FOH a little defense.

I'm a server and one of the things that sucks the most about my job is when I have a table that is being picky just for the sake of watching people run around doing their bidding.

If they decide that their food wasn't prepared properly for some reason (which I do admit can be my fault at times, but we aren't all smelly burnouts. I promise), I have to deal with the back of the house who will likely give me a hard time.

Now I have to choose between doing my job right and getting paid (I don't get paid by the hour), or getting the same crap from the expo chef who in my particular case is (and excuse my euphemism) a prick.

The biggest thing that separates FOH and the line is work attitudes. The BOH is very straightforward. They communicate as effeciently as possible, and are generally confined to the line. The FOH always has to be polite, courteous and for lack of a better word; fake. The FOH is always running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying everything short of sexual gratification to please the guests (because again, that's how we get paid). It's these two totally different states of mind that can cause conflict. It doesn't help serving in New Mexico where we have a language barrier as well.

That's my two cents. Sorry for the long winded response. Great blog.

Sarah said...

this is a great blog; good stuff. i work in hotels, but my prior hotel position was for a property that included four restaurants---two of which were upscale. the dynamic in the kitchen was always interesting. i have a strong appreciation for the art of food. :)

j.o.r.d.a.n. said...

found your blog on "blogs of note"! After being a server for 7 years (finally quit that shit!), I love hearing the old stories. Haha (fyi, I tried so hard to never be the shithead server, but sometimes I did have an off day).

tangas usadas said...

http://usadastangas.blogspot.com/ fantastic blog

nicorama said...

fantastic reading I enjoyed your pictures as well. great stuff and really funny. ill keep reading.

The Wayward Blog said...

Ahhh! The food service industry can be such a bitch. I've worked in several restaurants and I understand where you're coming from. Some days are great, while others are hellish. Cheers,

ramblher said...

first timer. thanks for a good laugh & pics of good food. i dream of becoming a foodie...

Blue Gummi Bears said...

It looks like you have a really fun job.

Foodie Writes... said...

OMG...I nearly died of laughter reading the main part of your post.
I related to EVERY word of that kitchen encounter!

I stumbled across your blog via "Blogs of Note"...

I can see why.

Well, I may not be impartial. I'm a foodie (BOH, Serve, Expo. Yes. All three.), editorial writer (including food & restaurants), and photographer (including food styling).

Yeah, ok, I guess I get a high off torturing myself.

Anyway...thanks for the awesome entertainment! Keep it coming!

I'm now a follower!

DubTak said...

I've only done bartending and deli-style (where FOH and BOH are one and the same), but I have noticed that FOH and BOH form into warring factions sometimes. We bartenders tend to stay the hell out of this war (because you're both gonna need to drink afterward), but it is detrimental to the guest when we food service workers get snippy. It's why G-d invented smoke breaks.


phyzish said...

hey, dig the blog- just found it browsing around.

i am a FOH manager, but my career in restaurants began in the kitchen. so when my servers start f-ing with my kitchen boys i really don't take kindly to it. at least once or twice a night i hear the guy running the window start screaming my name- i race back to the line to find everyone of them gaping incredulously at a ticket, then at me, then back at the ticket. then i find whatever vapid, blond server typed in whatever unholy arrangement of impossibility ((read: ordeing items we dont even stock)), and usually it ends in a server crying-- but i'll take it over losing my best cooks on a 20-life aggravated ... charge.

haha. plus i'm daing the kitchen manager!!

good stuff!

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Rachete said...

Funny to see what goes on behind the scenes.


Christopher James said...

Splitting a burger four ways? What bastards....

I appreciate that you can, in your head, categorize and reconcile the different needs that FOH workers and BOH workers have, and do what works best for the guest despite grudges. I'm a server, and though I get on well with the line in my store, FOH and BOH are generally sworn enemies. Our BOH is terrible at timing, and they're also completely indifferent to how their mess ups affect our tips. I think it's very easy for someone who makes an hourly wage to dismiss how a mess-up can really kill a tip. But it's also easy to forget that when the tipped employee is a raging douchebag too, so I feel that pain.

Great entry. I'm interested to read more.

A Well-Behaved Anarchist said...

Dude, I feel your anger! I certainly don't work in a high in a resturant, but my little franchise resturant can't be too much better! Most of our staff are teenagers (I myself am only 20 and head cook) and its so, just, awful. I run in to similar situations as you described all the time : "wait, this was supposed to be an appetizer" or "Oh no i forgot to ring this in!"

Problems in the kitchen are even worse! "Hey did u drop that chicken yet, the rest of the check is done!!" "Uh, shit...." Jeez man I know what it's like...

Mia said...

ok, just found your blog and browsing thru. you guys are nuts. you know that. right?

::laughing my ass off:::