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"You May Kiss the Chef's Napkin Ring"


cjsadler
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Here.

"It's crucial that you appreciate fully, so each dish comes with a disquisition on its origin and proper consumption. Chef got the eggs from an old lady with cataracts upstate. Chef foraged for the mushrooms in a thicket near the Tappan Zee. Chef counsels a bite from the ramekin on the left, then a sip from the shot glass on the right, then a palate-clearing curtsy."

:lol:

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Here.

"It's crucial that you appreciate fully, so each dish comes with a disquisition on its origin and proper consumption. Chef got the eggs from an old lady with cataracts upstate. Chef foraged for the mushrooms in a thicket near the Tappan Zee. Chef counsels a bite from the ramekin on the left, then a sip from the shot glass on the right, then a palate-clearing curtsy."

:lol:

this has to be one of the best pieces of journalism I've read this year....

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Excellent article, particularly this bit:

It won’t be long before Hooters has a tasting menu. Tasting menus are all the rage, reflecting more than the desire of many diners to sample little bits of lots of things.

In places where these menus are pushed aggressively — Gordon Ramsay labels his own six-course option the Prestige menu — they also represent ways to transfer control from diners to restaurants.

I dislike tasting menus. I want to choose my own courses (and my own wine), to have more than a bite or two of each dish, and to be able to walk out rather than needing a wheelbarrow because I am so effing stuffed. I was very sorry to hear that Komi has gone to a tasting menu only format.

And I realize that I am a complete philistine because of the above. :lol:

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I agree with Antonio. Great writing and, as we used to say back in the day, "pretty fuckin' funny."

I will say that I've had the privilege to work and hang out with a few chefs and we are blessedly free of this stuff in DC (though I have had a few run-ins). When I was waiting tables for Yannnick Cam and Nora Pouillon they would go out of their way to honor virtually any request. Guys like Wabek, Ziebold, Derek Brown, Sebastian what's-his-name, Slater, Slipp -- all of them at the top of their trade and wonderfully free of self-importance.

I guess in DC all the talented assholes go into politics.

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Guys like Wabek, Ziebold, Derek Brown, Sebastian what's-his-name, Slater, Slipp -- all of them at the top of their trade and wonderfully free of self-importance.
Their clientele probably makes up for that deficiency.

Is there such a "hurt me" mentality in NYC? The 9:45 reservations, the threats if reservations aren't confirmed multiple times, the parting gift of bread crumbs after spending at least $200 a head...wow.

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Excellent article, particularly this bit:I dislike tasting menus. I want to choose my own courses (and my own wine), to have more than a bite or two of each dish, and to be able to walk out rather than needing a wheelbarrow because I am so effing stuffed. I was very sorry to hear that Komi has gone to a tasting menu only format.

And I realize that I am a complete philistine because of the above. :lol:

You are not alone in your philistinism. :unsure:
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Funny, true, and interesting in the point about this is "how it is" because we, as diners, have allowed--even encouraged--it to be so.

And I must admit, there is something attractive about echoes of this attitude...I enjoy the amuse "from Chef," I like it when a server "compliments" me on my choices, etc. Although there are definitely times when that sort of interaction feels genuine and times when it feels affected.

I suppose the current state of affairs as described by Bruni reflects that there are theatrics and egos on all sides of the dining experience. For every arrogant chef or server, there is an impossible table of a-hole customers. For every "double-confirmation" on the part of the host there are dozens of diners who don't have the courtesy to call and cancel/change reservations.

This was great food for thought!

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I was very sorry to hear that Komi has gone to a tasting menu only format.
To be fair, Komi offers the diner a lot of choices within the tasting menu.
Chef counsels a bite from the ramekin on the left, then a sip from the shot glass on the right, then a palate-clearing curtsy.
This was the single funniest line, and it does remind me a bit of my one dinner at Maestro, although no curtsy was suggested.
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To be fair, Komi offers the diner a lot of choices within the tasting menu.
Yes, but that doesn't quite make up for the fact that it's just too much food. i am not bashing Komi - we had a gorgeous tasting menu there this summer and I am eager to return. But by the end of the meal it was uncomfortable.

I thought Bruni's point about the shift of power from the diner to the restaurant most significant.

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I thought Bruni's point about the shift of power from the diner to the restaurant most significant.
Oh, I completely agree. It was an excellent piece. Speaking of Bruni, what has become of the hilarious blog that used to relentlessly mock his columns? There's been no ENTRY since before Thanksgiving.
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You know, time flies. It seems like only yesterday that we were bickering about the trend toward small plates, giving diners more control over their choices. :lol: We're a fickle bunch.

(Hersch, the Bruni Digest was classic. I wish it would start up again.)

Small plates you choose, not small plates foisted upon you by a fey waiter and a chef convinced of his own genius, either of whom will have you blacklisted for life if you have the temerity to ask for the salt or eat their gastronomic molecules in the wrong order.

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And they are now getting exposure even earlier. Click here. Do things like this help to create the ego? I doubt it, but it certainly does not help.

I think it does affect them. It feels them with unrealistic expectations of what kind of fame waits for them when they graduate from so and so school. In all of the many years that I have been working in kitchens I still remember when you had to work 4,5,6 years to get a sous chef position. The students that graduate these days often come into their first jobs out of school inundated with visions of fame and feel that it should be within their grasp rapidly. I hate to say it but today's young cooks are some of the most entitled people I've ever met, unwilling to put in the long hours of sweat and hard work that their heros had to endure. Most don't realize that Mario Batali worked for 16 years before he ever opened his own place. Daniel worked in kitchens in his youth to help build the foundation for the empire he now rules over. Even locally, Jeff Buben worked in some of the finest kitchens in NYC before he came to DC and then he made a name for himself with hard work and tireless dedication.

Having said all of that, you occasionally find the ones that, while working along side them you can see that they have that desire, that passion that will propel them forward. More often than not you find it in people who never went to culinary school. Look at Keller, look at Patrick O'connell, self taught chefs who went out and learned what it took through hard work. But for every one diamond in the rough there are twenty that are all about instant gratification. I ask all externs before I take them on, "What do you expect to do within the next five years, ten years? What is you plan; the end that you hope to achieve?" Inverable the answers are that they expect to be Exec Chefs with in the 5-10 years, owning by 12 years. They never say that they expect to master the Salad Station, The Prep Station, The Meat, Fish, etc. They want to be sous right out of school, Chef de Cuisines within five years.

To make this relavant to this topic :unsure: I do think that the trend towards degustation only restaurants is a trend that top tier chefs all aspire to. I know that many want to share the creativity that they feel inside. For some restaurants I think it is the logical next step in their growth, for some, I don't think it makes any sense at all. Someplaces in the middle offer both choices, smarter option in my opinion. Having said that, if in a restaurant such as Per Se and the Laundry, Manresa, George Blancs and El Bulli, Arzak, all move to a tasting menu format because that is all that people seem to order anyway, is there really any good business sense in keeping a ala carte menu for >10% of customers. I think that if you go to a restaurant that has this format, you make a conscious decision to surrender yourself to the whims of the place that you are going. You trust that you are going to have an amazing experience and yes, you may eat things that you've never eaten before, but you shouldn't be stuffed. At Aquavit, we sized all the portions so that when you were done eating be it 5,7 or nine courses, you felt sated but not stuffed. I have seen the portions in some tasting menus around town and I think that, frankly, they are huge given their context. One place where I had an amazingly well paced and sized meal was at Citronelle. It was frankly the best meal I've eaten in along time, and when I left, 4 hours, 11 courses later in which almost every course was diffrent for my girlfriend and I, I was neither hungry nor stuffed, I was only....happy :lol: and I think that should be what all of those other restaurants should aspire to.

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I think it does affect them. It feels them with unrealistic expectations of what kind of fame waits for them when they graduate from so and so school. In all of the many years that I have been working in kitchens I still remember when you had to work 4,5,6 years to get a sous chef position. The students that graduate these days often come into their first jobs out of school inundated with visions of fame and feel that it should be within their grasp rapidly. I hate to say it but today's young cooks are some of the most entitled people I've ever met, unwilling to put in the long hours of sweat and hard work that their heros had to endure. Most don't realize that Mario Batali worked for 16 years before he ever opened his own place. Daniel worked in kitchens in his youth to help build the foundation for the empire he now rules over. Even locally, Jeff Buben worked in some of the finest kitchens in NYC before he came to DC and then he made a name for himself with hard work and tireless dedication.

Having said all of that, you occasionally find the ones that, while working along side them you can see that they have that desire, that passion that will propel them forward. More often than not you find it in people who never went to culinary school. Look at Keller, look at Patrick O'connell, self taught chefs who went out and learned what it took through hard work. But for every one diamond in the rough there are twenty that are all about instant gratification. I ask all externs before I take them on, "What do you expect to do within the next five years, ten years? What is you plan; the end that you hope to achieve?" Inverable the answers are that they expect to be Exec Chefs with in the 5-10 years, owning by 12 years. They never say that they expect to master the Salad Station, The Prep Station, The Meat, Fish, etc. They want to be sous right out of school, Chef de Cuisines within five years.

I think the culinary schools do all they can to keep this expectation alive so that more students enroll. Do they really care if they don't stay in the business after they graduate? They say they do, but I doubt it. They are running a business and care about the bottom line.

I would be curious to know if there is any difference in attitude between the career changers and the young kids that come out of school.

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I think the culinary schools do all they can to keep this expectation alive so that more students enroll. Do they really care if they don't stay in the business after they graduate? They say they do, but I doubt it. They are running a business and care about the bottom line.

I would be curious to know if there is any difference in attitude between the career changers and the young kids that come out of school.

I think you hit it right on the head, culinary schools are selling that image, that dream to everyone that comes through the door. They bank on the fact that in some weird way everyone has the chance to be Emeril or Mario. Most culinary schools insist that you have practical experience of at least a year before you enroll but those rules are often relaxed. The sad thing is is that often they aren't aware of what the reality is. It isn't tv shows and press junkets and commercials, endoresments and multiple restaurants. It often is 15 hour days on your feet on a hundred degree line. It is burning yourself, cutting yourself. It is lower back pain, bad knees and feet. And for all that, your first restaurant has a 70-90% chance of failing within the first year you open. Nice :lol: And the thing is, if you are in it for the right reasons, to cook good food, make people happy and enjoy the camraderie of a kitchen enviornment, where your coworkers often see you more than your wife, then it is ALL WORTH IT. If not, then you won't last three years.

As for second career vs youngsters....I find that more people that are going through a career change get into it because they are good amaetur cooks and dazzle friends with daring do during dinner parties and have heard "Oh, you should be a chef!!!" So they go to culinary school, fork out 40k to realize that they can't keep up with the seventeen year old on salads and that the Chef can't spend the one on one time with them explaining things like they did in school. Most of the second careers have great intentions, and for the most part they try hard. The problem is that they come in with one strike already. The kids, on the other hand, seem more mentally prepared for the reality, they have more resilence and they bounce back better from mistakes. If you yell at a 38 year old salad cook in the middle of service to pick up the pace, they'll remember it, they get embarassed about it, they take it personally. The kids.....they move their asses and don't blink an eye. And I'm not talking about a Gordan Ramsey-esque dress down, they get offended if you say things like "Hey, you guys are dragging ass, could you pick it up a bit?"

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... if you are in it for the right reasons, to cook good food, make people happy and enjoy the camraderie of a kitchen enviornment, where your coworkers often see you more than your wife, then it is ALL WORTH IT....

They damn well better NOT be seeing my wife! :lol:

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I think the culinary schools do all they can to keep this expectation alive so that more students enroll. Do they really care if they don't stay in the business after they graduate? They say they do, but I doubt it. They are running a business and care about the bottom line.

I would be curious to know if there is any difference in attitude between the career changers and the young kids that come out of school.

The 'culinary schools'? You can't compare the CIA with Johnson & Wales. People's expectations are going to be different if they go to Harvard or FIU. And isn't the core of any business the bottom line? Even that workers' paradise, THE RESTAURANT?

Also. most graduates work for someone else WAY before they open their own place. IF they open their own place. (Other than the ones who already have family money, or famous friends.) And while I agree that older grads or career-changers are probably not going to love working for minimum wage making vats of demi-glace, many of them already have some connection in the food world to begin with (friend, relative, etc.). Plus everyone knows that you don't even NEED to cook to make it in the 'Celebrity Chef Restaurant' game. (Many examples too numerous to mention.)

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The 'culinary schools'? You can't compare the CIA with Johnson & Wales. People's expectations are going to be different if they go to Harvard or FIU. And isn't the core of any business the bottom line? Even that workers' paradise, THE RESTAURANT?

Also. most graduates work for someone else WAY before they open their own place. IF they open their own place. (Other than the ones who already have family money, or famous friends.) And while I agree that older grads or career-changers are probably not going to love working for minimum wage making vats of demi-glace, many of them already have some connection in the food world to begin with (friend, relative, etc.). Plus everyone knows that you don't even NEED to cook to make it in the 'Celebrity Chef Restaurant' game. (Many examples too numerous to mention.)

What I was saying is that the schools are helping to give the students unrealistic expectations that they can climb the ladder a bit quicker. And why not compare CIA with J&W?

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Trust me, all culinary schools teach you the same things. The CIA has a better reputation, which IMHO it rides on, but I find that it all depends on the students desire to learn. Most kids go to the CIA because it gives them name recongnition, but they lack the desire to make the most of it. I didn't go to the CIA and I know plenty of good chefs who didn't. But the best chefs get more out of the education that they are provided CIA, PCI or J&W.

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Most kids go to the CIA because it gives them name recongnition, but they lack the desire to make the most of it. But the best chefs get more out of the education that they are provided CIA, PCI or J&W.
Cash In Advance

Culinary schools do not guarantee success.

The institution may have a perennial reputation which not every goofy assuming alumni inherits.

Many venerable trades are humbly and frugally learned though self-tutelage or apprenticeship.

Resourcefulness and passion often trump bankroll.

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Cash In Advance

Culinary schools do not guarantee success.

The institution may have a perennial reputation which not every goofy assuming alumni inherits.

Many venerable trades are humbly and frugally learned though self-tutelage or apprenticeship.

Resourcefulness and passion often trump bankroll.

Exactly my sentement.....

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