Good Chef/Bad Chef

Your chef.  He's worked in the best restaurants.  He can taste flavors you didn't know existed.  There's a lightness in his step, despite the fact that he's been on his feet for 16 hours.  He speaks French.  When he cooks something, it tastes good every time.  Unless...he's worked in restaurants you've never heard of, or that aren't in business anymore.  He sits down, sometimes for an entire service.  He speaks horrible, broken Spanish that's borderline offensive to the prep cooks.  And when he cooks something, it's so overloaded with cayenne and paprika that it brings tears to your eyes and stains your mouth red.

Some cooks never get to experience the "bad chef."  They go through their entire career, more or less hand picking their moves, and they learn from the best.  The rest make their moves based on a combination of necessity, or convenience, or even desperation.  And often this leads to a run in with an obnoxious sous chef, or a cocky chef de cuisine, or the witless exec.  And in rare instances, an evil combination of all three.

On my way up, I went through a spell where I was good enough to lead the kitchen, but didn't have enough experience for my chef to promote me.  Because of this, I was introduced to an endless array of some of the most inept, sexually harrassing, no skill having, racist homophobic chefs since season's 1-4 of Top Chef.  I was frustrated, stirring up shit among the cooks, complaining to my boss, and eventually contemplating quitting altogether.  There would be screaming matches, yelling, distrust.  Every day was hard, and when I would go out for beers with the boys, all I could talk about was the bullshit going on at work.

Eventually, you realize that good folks are going to come and go, and all you can do is take care of yourself, contribute all you can, and not worry about anything else.  The bad chef always ends up filtering himself out, and at very least, you get to have a laugh or two along the way--or possibly challenge yourself and learn a thing or two.  Things become clear for you, and in the future, you can see a bad situation coming--and when you're in a good situation, you really appreciate it.  And at very least, you know to go easy on the cayenne.

  • Bake sale Betty's fried chicken sandwich can lead to a dangerous habit.
  • Calling people back is sometimes very difficult.
  • A new iphone model?  Already?  Is it wrong that im annoyed and excited all at the same time?
  • The more I think about my meal at Domo, the more annoyed I get.
  • Prosciutto and pancetta are not the same thing.  Who knew?
  • All that build up for the Bocuse D'or, then we get 6th place.
  • Falafels, Nizario's pizza, and Lil' Chihuahua might lead to a very bad stomach ache.
  • It's true:  Blue Bottle Bindhi coffee is better cold.

Quotes and conversations.

Me:  Sophia, tell me something interesting.
Sophia:  Do you watch America's Next Top Dance Crew?

  You know, like you order a ham, and they give you the whole ham on a plate.
Me:  They call that the Flinstones portion.

Chef:  I think Corey's balls are the new Rubik's cube.
Corey:  Hey dude, they aint that hard to figure out.

Corey:  Don't get me wrong, it's hard, but I enjoy it.
Me, to Amy:  He's talking about penis.

"I have seen one.  Timecop."
-Maritess, who got a new nickname this week.

"Torta's get extra bacon."
-Ponder.  Who is completely correct.

Me:  Corey, how was your day off?
Corey:  I didn't do shit.  I watched America's Funniest Home Videos.  Saw a pig roll down a hill.  Shit was funny as hell.

Me:  Hey Corey, I have a business proposition for you...that doesn't involve you taking off your clothes.
Corey:  Hey dude.  How did you know I was gonna say that?

Me:  What should I do with all these pasta sraps?
Amy:  You should make a vest.
Corey:  You should ball it up, put it in a sack, and hit Al with it.

Me:  Can I have some maple syrup with my pancakes?
Al:  You mean crepes.
Me:  You're right.

Al:  That was one of the funniest things  you've ever said.
Me:  Thanks Al.  I'm trying to be funnier.
Al:  Yeah, you should try harder.

"She should win a burger bun for torta of the month."
-Ponder.  Trophy maker.

Me:  Ponder, would it be gay if I got a tattoo of us riding a tandem bike together?
Ponder:  That'd be doooope.

Me:  Eddie, how was Santa Fe?  Did you bring back any Hopi Indian jewelry?
Eddie:  No, I didn't bring you a turquoise cock ring.

from top: old knife/new knife, table, bakesale betty's, berkeley farmer's market, gibraltar, foil man, boards, menu, home is good, hostility flow chart, torta of the month award, eddie curing bacon at 1am, hi jamie


chef said...

I thoroughly enjoy your posts. They provoke all kinds of good/bad/loathing/loving thoughts...and sometimes I hate you for them, and other times I love you for what you say. You are like Shuna in that way. I don't always like what she says, but occasionally she says something that makes me want to be a different person afterward.

I hope our paths cross in the future. I want to shake your hand.

Not The Rockefellers said...

"and all you can do is take care of yourself, contribute all you can, and not worry about anything else".

This is something I say to the kindergarteners every day!

And that is all you ever need to know!

Peace - Rene

moonshark said...

I appreciate that you started this blog for your fellow cooks but you also probably started cooking for just a handful of folks...talent spreads,dude. I love coming here! As a 20+ year food service veteran, your blog makes me feel whole. Thank you for quoting the joyful, absurd (so funny!)thoughts that keep the good food rolling. Its really its own world,huh?

moonshark said...

By the way...shouldn't you be at work? ;D

Adam said...

i love the posts! i also dropped you in a post of mine as well. it's in the post titles the 'Crisis'

keep it comin dude!

Adam said...

i have left you a little something on my blog in the post titled "And the winner is...."

Matt said...

on the subject of constructing things out of food (such as the torta award)...we once made a jabba the hutt replica out of pizza dough...he was the kitchen mascot for the night and it was glorious...keep up the great posts man..

Michelle said...

This post was really encouraging to me and I don't even work in the restaurant industry. I think it applies to whatever you are doing in life when you run into people that...well...don't get things...

Love your blog BTW!

Dots said...

Hi Cook. I need some wedding cake suggestions. Can you do a blog on that and show images. Thankz!

Steve Ballmer said...

... enjoying your blog!