Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I love to say that to some people sometimes.
Mostly staff that whin about the heat or working hard and not taking short cuts  or even money.

Now I hate hot kitchens but after 26 years I am not about to complain about it. Gone are the days of sucking it up and just getting on with it. Now , the older chefs have to endure these new pampered cooks who think they are the end all of the culinary world. Most wont survive their first real job because hopefully a crunchy,grumpy old chef will make them peel 1000 pounds of carrots and potatoes. Peeling shrimp....peeling and deveining them till their fingers are numb. If they do survive  and still want to go on, then these are the people you want in our kitchens.

Devotion and work ethics can't be taught at work or school. It's either in you or not. And that brings up something. To go to school or to work your way up.

I went to the C.I.A. back in the early 1990's. it was rough. Chefs yelling at us, breaking our sports and then not bothering to really rebuild any of us. That was up to us to figure it out. They gave us the tools,it was up to us how to use them. I think I was yelled at twice, had my finger almost chopped off once( thank you chef Chang for not cutting it off) ,had no less than three objects thrown at me, was called a pathetic dog in four languages  and was punched in the chest( by a fellow student after I reacted to him shoving my face into rancid beef). Yeah ,it was a hoot ..seriously it was. I learned sooo much. More than I really could use in my daily life but when I can its like I am high. It sounds funny to say that but I am not talking about my basic principles of cooking though there are a lot of times I want to rip stuff out of my staff hands when they don't get basic stuff like why we braise certain foods or the difference between baking and roasting. Or just simply knowing the whys of food.
But that's where I come in. Even my sous chefs lack some basic knowledge ,though they are steps
above my staff. And speaking of them , they are a good example of culinary education versus  hands
on field work. Even though there is a slight age difference , the knowledge is quiet different too. But they I will get to in later posts.  But I will say that N and even my ex admired about me ( I am sure others do too but would never say it because some how that would make me in a way an awesome chef and we certainly can't have that getting out can we?... Lol) is my strange ability to just grab ingredients and just know it will turn out and my endless brain that can recall things and argue out why something will or will not work before a pan is heated. It's just about the only plus side to my thinking brain.

Did you know that turmeric is part of the ginger family?

As I have said I think...I think a lot ,sometimes way to much about stuff and sometimes not enough. Usually the not enough leads to chaotic emotion driven actions . These in principle aren't always bad things but not always fun because then well, that's a story too.

But hey, back to going to school or not. Honestly, if I was 18 with the same family I bet I would forgo  school and go around Europe for a year doing stages or working very cheap then come back to the states and doing the same.  I might go to school after all that but that's a big maybe. Don't get me wrong ,having C.I.A. On my résumé has opened doors at least those who know . When I first started looking for work after school , it was like hitting the duh wall. People thought its was either THAT C.I.A or Chicago  institute of art or something like that. Or worse one guy didn't believe me that I went to it and asked for my grades. Yeah true story....and it was for a shitty job too. Point being the schooling was a door opener at the time. Now I dare say ,that if you don't have something to back it
up like solid work experience in a real non corporate (ie Applebee's) restaurant then your education
means squat.

Just work...work the shitty shifts, the shitty hours and do whatever the chef,sous chefs and higher up cooks tell you. There will be no please or thank yous. If you want a squeaky clean banker hours job,be a fucking banker. Leave the sweaty hard work to those who can. This job can and will devour you and I doubt the kids coming out of schools these days have the stomach or the ethics to suck it up and start from the bottom no matter how much education you have....espically if your work experience sucks.
When all is said and done ,you will be better off.

When I got out of school, I thought I could be a sous chef. What I got was a line cooks job in a hack place. But I did it because it taught me shit like timing and working in tight spaces. And when I got my first sous chef job I failed and was fired in three months. Second sous chef job at 23 , luckily was in a small 80 seat places run by another C.I.A grad and his partner and one of the best times of my life. He taught me a lot ,not just cooking but also how not to run a business .

My point of all of this is an education worth $50k of debt? If you get a free ride,go for it. Otherwise whore your stupid self to other older chefs. ...and don't!!!!! Keep moving around so fucking much! Yes , a varied resume is great. But a bouncer just sends up red flags.

Trust me.....

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