Sometimes this happens to you:  Stepping onto the station, a chill goes down your spine.  The squeeze bottle sits in a puddle of oil.  There are bits of chervil and chives everywhere.  Chicken stock is puddled all over the place, and the salt...oh the salt.  There is fucking salt everywhere.  And it's clumped up from having wet fingers in it.  You reach for chard, and realize that all of the greens have become mixed throughout  the night.  It's a complete mess, and it hasn't even been that busy.

I'm a notorious clean freak when it comes to my (and others) stations.  Early on in my career, as I prepped a vinaigrette, the sous chef came pulled me away from my cutting board and said "You need to work cleaner." 


I thought I was working clean.  I protested for a moment.  The sous ran his hand over my cutting board, and showed me his palm.  It was filthy.  He picked up my knife and wiped it off--leaving bits of herbs and shallot on his towel.  He organized my mise into a neat row, glared hard at me, and walked away.

Working clean makes you a better cook.  It increases your focus.  Your plating is cleaner.  Your mise is always in order.  And it's so easy.  Have you tried it?  A commitment to take that extra second to wipe down after you do something?  Keeping your squeeze bottles dry?  Changing out the baine water your spoons sit in?  Washing down whenever things get too dirty to wipe up with a towel?

Hopefully you have a chef that insists on this level of cleanliness. 

It's so easy--and important.  Your fellow cooks will respect you more.  Your chef will respect you more.  It will become something of an obsession (if you're like me) and the first time someone looks at your station and says "Wow." it will make you feel very good.  As it becomes a part of your daily standards, you will start to transform into a better, sharper cook.  There is no other way.

  • hanging out at sebo on a rainy day ain't half bad
  • some gibraltars are just better than others
  • my sneaker addiction is screaming at me
  • im probably not getting that $4000 ring at stuart moore
  • violet's video of kozy is here
  • sometimes when i go through my old records I can't help but wonder "what was i thinking?"
  • corey won't wait for totopo's
  • cold weather makes my hands creaky
  • oh, the irony of comcast not shooting their commercials in HD

quotes and conversations:

"Hey puto.  Know what you should do on Monday?  Buy a foam finger."
-Corey.  Wants Al to have fun at the ballgame.

Corey:  You want a fanny pack for what?
Goose:  To stuff treats in.

Me:  I wish I hadn't gotten this vagina botox.
Merrell:  (laughing)  Vagina botox?  Write that down.

"In Mexico City, i'm known as puerco chupacabra."

"Graceful like a motherfuckin' sea cow."
-Ponder.  Never took ballet

Me:  Corey, I was just talking to Brooke about your sex chicken.
Corey:  Hey dude, leave sex chicken alone.

Me:  Why are her teeth blue dude?
Jamie:  Cuz' she's from Atlanta dude.

from top:  want, michael black, tentacles, octopus, more octopus, by eddie, star wars, iced coffee and amy, green almond, goose on allergy meds, goose's slam, paulie's slam, shiny, violet, speez, kozy


Anonymous said...

thats a fucking slam and a half.

Box. said...

Nothing is more appetizing as a diner than seeing one of the kitchen staff come out with a nasty ass sidetowel on his apron. Especially knowing that he's probably using that towel to wipe off his hands, cutting boards, and knives.

don't touch my knife said...

that is a sexy ass knife. i really dig the french style chefs but with the scalloping of a Santoku. i just cant afford to drop $500 on a new one.
Im tryin to get better and cleaner. my problem is with fucking pastry. like today we were grilling porterhouses on thr porch. i had time and decided to make a batch of Roti bread.
hell if i didnt measure the exact measurements like a punk and saran wrapped my whole board. my shit was right and I STILL managed to fuck up both a clean floor and a butchers apron.
This is why my main business with the pastry dept is eating it and not making it.
good, relevant post.
keep it up, i dont think any of us can wait for Violet Blue.

Joseph Bayot said...

Well said, man.

My biggest pet peeve is a dirty knife handle when everything is spotless. Everything else looks great, but you touch your knife and end up ruining your plating and every other item you touch after that.

njcook0312 said...

Question for you or the next podcast: what kind of shoes do you guys wear in the kitchen? I've gone through two different kinds of shoes so far in school, and nothing has been comfy enough for 12 hour days yet.

jer said...

funny you posted this, i've been on a "uber clean station" kick for the last couple of busy services. imagine my surprise when i found you can do 300 covers working grill and not look like you murdered someone at the end of service

Matt said...

the most recent departure from the kitchen i work in (my former exec sous) ALWAYS and i mean always insisted "cleanliness is next to godliness"...funny thing...even though he is gone if i see that there are smudges or food detritus on my station i grab the nearest squirt bottle and clean them up asap..

Adan said...

i am a huge fan of four roses bourbon and i am totally glad you got a photo! i drink the same stuff!

chef fred said...

Being reading your stuff for a while now. This post is right on. Keep up the good work.

jb said...

what kind of knife is in the first pix? love reading your thoughts. thanks

Ron McBride said...

when is the next podcast??


Unknown said...

this East Village (NYC) speakeasy called PDT did a bacon-infused bourbon using Four Roses a few months ago. See:

http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/45776/I've tried it twice with mixed results. Nearly no-effect the first time, then WAY too smoky on the second try, probably due to different infusion times? I've been trying to dig up my old organic chemistry lab notes for "liquid-liquid extractions"...

maybe this could be a new drink for Nopa, or at least Podcast #11