Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

Smoking chefs


  • Please log in to reply
54 replies to this topic

#1 andrewB

andrewB
  • participating member
  • 172 posts

Posted 21 July 2007 - 02:36 AM

With Marco Pierre White as an example, chefs and cooks of the past decades did their fare share of smoking. Thankfully gone are the days of stirring the soup pot with a butt dangling from the cooks lips, but how many chefs and cooks still smoke? what are the rules in the states regarding this, ie. smoke breaks, how far from the building they must smoke etc.

i have read various reports on if infact smoking does alter the palate and it seems to be related not to smoking but to the nicotine. whats the verdict?

#2 Marky Marc

Marky Marc
  • participating member
  • 168 posts
  • Location:Seattle, Washington

Posted 21 July 2007 - 02:40 AM

With Marco Pierre White as an example, chefs and cooks of the past decades did their fare share of smoking. Thankfully gone are the days of stirring the soup pot with a butt dangling from the cooks lips, but how many chefs and cooks still smoke? what are the rules in the states regarding this, ie. smoke breaks, how far from the building they must smoke etc.

i have read various reports on if infact smoking does alter the palate and it seems to be related not to smoking but to the nicotine. whats the verdict?

View Post

30 in the kitchen and maybe 5 of us don't smoke.

#3 Basildog

Basildog
  • participating member
  • 2,081 posts

Posted 21 July 2007 - 09:01 AM

2 in the kitchen, both smokers.Just had a law change here (UK) banning smoking in the workplace and any enclosed public space.Wish i could quit, too weak willed.

#4 david coonce

david coonce
  • participating member
  • 187 posts
  • Location:Bloomington, IN

Posted 21 July 2007 - 01:55 PM

Lots of cooks smoke. (Lots more drink heavily, but that's another topic). High stress environments, no time for "real"breaks, lots of poor people cook for a living. (smokers tend to dominate the bottom of the economic spectrum). I've never smoked, in my kitchen probably half the cooks smoke, although two of them quit smoking in the last year.
Every state and municipality has different rules about smoking. Where I live, a very progressive and liberal city, smoking isn't allowed in any public building, and cannot be done within 25 feet of an entrance, which also rules out smoking by outdoor diners. Cooks take smoke breaks out by the dumpsters, basically. Health department regs require hand-washing after smoking. Our kitchen requires hand-washing anytime you return to the kitchen from anywhere else.

I have heard that smoking numbs the palate, forcing cooks to over-season their food, but I have seen no evidence of this in any kitchen I've ever worked in.
"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

#5 ChefCAG

ChefCAG
  • participating member
  • 127 posts
  • Location:Kansas City, MO

Posted 21 July 2007 - 02:57 PM

Lots of cooks smoke. (Lots more drink heavily, but that's another topic). High stress environments, no time for "real"breaks, lots of poor people cook for a living. (smokers tend to dominate the bottom of the economic spectrum). I've never smoked, in my kitchen probably half the cooks smoke, although two of them quit smoking in the last year.
Every state and municipality has different rules about smoking. Where I live, a very progressive and liberal city, smoking isn't allowed in any public building, and cannot be done within 25 feet of an entrance, which also rules out smoking by outdoor diners. Cooks take smoke breaks out by the dumpsters, basically. Health department regs require hand-washing after smoking. Our kitchen requires hand-washing anytime you return to the kitchen from anywhere else.

I have heard that smoking numbs the palate, forcing cooks to over-season their food, but I have seen no evidence of this in any kitchen I've ever worked in.

View Post



I smoked for about 10 years and quit when I worked in a kitchen where I had no time to. I would have been made fun of.
Smoking IMO is an out dated thing. About half of my staff smokes but all of them are under 30 and the cooks that smoke (2 of them) certainly do not have subtle palates. I bet smoking will be a thing of the past in the next 10 years
“Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sydney J. Harris

#6 Bueno

Bueno
  • legacy participant
  • 295 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted 21 July 2007 - 06:28 PM

Younger chefs in today's kitchen smoke far less. Kitchens run by old-school-ish chefs smoke more. It's a direct reflection of smoking in society in general. You'd be surprised to learn how many of what we regard as the most precise and refined palates in the country also are laden with smoke regularly. Doesn't SEEM to have much of an effect that I can detect -- though I just find nasty on a hygenic level.

#7 ChefCAG

ChefCAG
  • participating member
  • 127 posts
  • Location:Kansas City, MO

Posted 21 July 2007 - 08:28 PM

Younger chefs in today's kitchen smoke far less.  Kitchens run by old-school-ish chefs smoke more.  It's a direct reflection of smoking in society in general.  You'd be surprised to learn how many of what we regard as the most precise and refined palates in the country also are laden with smoke regularly.  Doesn't SEEM to have much of an effect that I can detect -- though I just find nasty on a hygenic level.

View Post


Really? Like who? I know alot of well Known chefs and none of them smoke.
“Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sydney J. Harris

#8 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 21 July 2007 - 08:32 PM

I have know of people who take up smoking when they started cooking, just for the breaks. You would be laughed at if you said "Hey guys I'm going to sit down for five min." Where, "I'm going for a butt", Seems fine.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#9 KarenDW

KarenDW
  • participating member
  • 617 posts
  • Location:Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted 21 July 2007 - 10:56 PM

I have heard that smoking numbs the palate, forcing cooks to over-season their food, but I have seen no evidence of this in any kitchen I've ever worked in.

View Post


Yesterday's lunch: Pasta, w/ shallot cream sauce. I taste, then add pepper, then salt to the dish which had been served to me. Head chef watches, then offers to remake the dish. Apparently the Sous is a heavy smoker. She consistently UNDERseasons.

At work: I am a community meal chef with LOTS of volunteer prep people. It's a consistent challenge to get people to taste the food they are making! But they *are* learning.
Karen Dar Woon

#10 Bueno

Bueno
  • legacy participant
  • 295 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted 22 July 2007 - 01:33 AM

Really? Like who? I know alot of well Known chefs and none of them smoke.

View Post


More than a few that I am familiar with specifically wish to not have that information public, which I understand. One especially is passionate about that.

Ramsay, Batali, Palmer, Burke, and I've been told Tournodel and Ripert, but I'm not sure.

#11 kpzachary

kpzachary
  • participating member
  • 100 posts

Posted 22 July 2007 - 04:19 AM

I have recently moved to Germany where smoking is pretty much encouraged by the world wide hotel group for which I work. There is a cigarette machine right next to the smoking break area. I, and one other chef are the only two non-smokers out of a staff of fourty.
When I worked in the States it was definatley different. There was no way that any restaurant or hotel which I worked in would ever provide a cigarette machine at work. The amount of non-smoker chefs was always greater than the amount of smokers. Smoking was absolutly discouraged by the chefs I worked with. I smoked for about ten years, but quit after learning what it does to my palette and of course, knowing what it does to my health.
There is obviously a difference in cultures. Smoking in public spaces is still accepted here, and unfortunatly, I don't think that is changing any time soon.

#12 chromedome

chromedome
  • participating member
  • 989 posts

Posted 22 July 2007 - 06:33 AM

I have know of people who take up smoking when they started cooking, just for the breaks.  You would be laughed at if you said "Hey guys I'm going to sit down for five min."  Where, "I'm going for a butt", Seems fine.

View Post


My prep cook in Edmonton took up smoking for that very reason, at age 15. Smokers got to go slack off for 5-10 minutes every couple of hours, and non-smokers didn't...so he started lighting up.

Me, I'd just spend several minutes "looking for an elusive ingredient" in the walk-in... :cool:
Fat=flavor

#13 david coonce

david coonce
  • participating member
  • 187 posts
  • Location:Bloomington, IN

Posted 22 July 2007 - 07:33 AM

I have know of people who take up smoking when they started cooking, just for the breaks.  You would be laughed at if you said "Hey guys I'm going to sit down for five min."  Where, "I'm going for a butt", Seems fine.

View Post


That's actually pretty legit. Where I work the "smoke break" is definitely a big thing for those who smoke - it really is the closest to a break you get in a professional kitchen. The closest I get to it is with coffee, and I can suck that down while I'm working.
"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

#14 ChefCAG

ChefCAG
  • participating member
  • 127 posts
  • Location:Kansas City, MO

Posted 22 July 2007 - 08:12 AM


Really? Like who? I know alot of well Known chefs and none of them smoke.

View Post


More than a few that I am familiar with specifically wish to not have that information public, which I understand. One especially is passionate about that.

Ramsay, Batali, Palmer, Burke, and I've been told Tournodel and Ripert, but I'm not sure.

View Post


Ramsey wouldn't suprise me. Batali yes seen him plenty...I was a sous for Palmer for 2yrs in Vegas. Never saw him smoke. Don't know about Tournodel or Burke. I would be SHOCKED if Ripert did. He seems way too disciplined.
“Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sydney J. Harris

#15 Bueno

Bueno
  • legacy participant
  • 295 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted 22 July 2007 - 08:42 AM

Ramsey wouldn't suprise me. Batali yes seen him plenty...I was a sous for Palmer for 2yrs in Vegas. Never saw him smoke. Don't know about Tournodel or Burke. I would be SHOCKED if Ripert did. He seems way too disciplined.

View Post


Well I suppose the ones I've actually see with my own eyes could just do it very casually, as that seems to be possible for some. But definitely once!

And of course I know plenty of experienced diners that have palates that are out of this world, not to mention wine gurus, that smoke like chimneys and argue that it doesn't seem to effect them at all.

My argument, if it is one, is that they've probably smoked before they even knew what fine dining was. Therefore, they trained palates that were already smokers. Had they not have been smokers, imagine how refined those palates could be. Possible super-tasters held back by smoking.

Whatever, I'm sure it ain't a big deal anyway. :)

#16 Norm357

Norm357
  • participating member
  • 86 posts

Posted 22 July 2007 - 08:47 AM

I can assure you, plenty of Chefs in Atlanta smoke.

Many times while making a delivery, I have come across a Chef taking a smoke at the backdoor.
Chicks dig wheelguns.

#17 ChefJohnny

ChefJohnny
  • participating member
  • 211 posts
  • Location:RVA

Posted 22 July 2007 - 09:59 AM

Lots of cooks smoke. (Lots more drink heavily, but that's another topic). High stress environments, no time for "real"breaks, lots of poor people cook for a living. (smokers tend to dominate the bottom of the economic spectrum). I've never smoked, in my kitchen probably half the cooks smoke, although two of them quit smoking in the last year.
Every state and municipality has different rules about smoking. Where I live, a very progressive and liberal city, smoking isn't allowed in any public building, and cannot be done within 25 feet of an entrance, which also rules out smoking by outdoor diners. Cooks take smoke breaks out by the dumpsters, basically. Health department regs require hand-washing after smoking. Our kitchen requires hand-washing anytime you return to the kitchen from anywhere else.

I have heard that smoking numbs the palate, forcing cooks to over-season their food, but I have seen no evidence of this in any kitchen I've ever worked in.

View Post


Im sorry, but your generalization that smokers represent the bottom of the economic spectrum is a crock of shit. You can't make those kinds of crap comments without some kind of facts to back it up.

Back on topic, I am a smoker and I was one of those who started when i got in a professional kitchen. Every kitchen i have worked in at least 1 person smoked. I recently spent 4 months in Europe where everyone and their dog smokes. In a kitchen of 30 all but 3 smoked. I think its just one of those things that people associate with chefs. Kind of like how sailors are "known" for cursing and drinking like fish or rockstars are drug addicts.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA


#18 BrodeurR

BrodeurR
  • participating member
  • 18 posts
  • Location:Richmond, VA

Posted 22 July 2007 - 10:42 AM

I recently spent 4 months in Europe where everyone and their dog smokes.

-Chef Johnny

View Post

Any facts to back up that generalization?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

#19 david coonce

david coonce
  • participating member
  • 187 posts
  • Location:Bloomington, IN

Posted 22 July 2007 - 10:34 PM

Lots of cooks smoke. (Lots more drink heavily, but that's another topic). High stress environments, no time for "real"breaks, lots of poor people cook for a living. (smokers tend to dominate the bottom of the economic spectrum). I've never smoked, in my kitchen probably half the cooks smoke, although two of them quit smoking in the last year.
Every state and municipality has different rules about smoking. Where I live, a very progressive and liberal city, smoking isn't allowed in any public building, and cannot be done within 25 feet of an entrance, which also rules out smoking by outdoor diners. Cooks take smoke breaks out by the dumpsters, basically. Health department regs require hand-washing after smoking. Our kitchen requires hand-washing anytime you return to the kitchen from anywhere else.

I have heard that smoking numbs the palate, forcing cooks to over-season their food, but I have seen no evidence of this in any kitchen I've ever worked in.

View Post


Im sorry, but your generalization that smokers represent the bottom of the economic spectrum is a crock of shit. You can't make those kinds of crap comments without some kind of facts to back it up.


-Chef Johnny

View Post


Here's a few, just from poking around the internet. These are all really long documents but worth your while if you read them.

http://www1.worldban...dc/041TO062.PDF

www.tobaccoevidence.net/pdf/sea_activities/smoking%20and%20poverty.pdf

tc.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/10/3/210.pdf

and the big one (a study of 240,000 poor people):

http://tobaccocontro...abstract/6/1/14

Here's a quote from the last one: " CONCLUSIONS: Persons below the poverty threshold continue to be more likely than those at or above the threshold both to be current smokers and not to have quit. Poverty may be an indicator of underparticipation in the changing social norms regarding smoking behaviour in recent years. Individuals below the poverty threshold may need focused efforts to help achieve the Healthy People 2000 objectives for reducing adult smoking prevalence. "

This is just stuff that is peer-reviewed and published in journals. There's another massive, thousand-page study by the CDC that's not available on the internet as far as I could find but is probably at your local library. It also confirms the link between poverty and prevalence of smoking.

And hell, if you don't wanna read all this scientific, peer-reviewed, heavily researched evidence, just go to a poor neighborhood and a rich neighborhood. How many rich neighborhoods have discount tobacco stores on every corner?

Edited by david coonce, 22 July 2007 - 10:35 PM.

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

#20 Mikeb19

Mikeb19
  • participating member
  • 405 posts

Posted 23 July 2007 - 05:05 PM

I have know of people who take up smoking when they started cooking, just for the breaks.  You would be laughed at if you said "Hey guys I'm going to sit down for five min."  Where, "I'm going for a butt", Seems fine.

View Post


When I first started cooking, people told me that if I ever wanted a break I'd have to take up smoking. I'd take one anyway, if they had anything to say about it I'd just tell them to fuck off. Eventually, as I worked up the ranks, people would never question what I did anyway, so if I had a rare free moment, I'd sit down and relax for 5.

#21 Alchemist

Alchemist
  • participating member
  • 922 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:31 PM

I have been in the process of quitting smoking for the last two weeks. Chantix plus behavior modification, and maybe a little electro-shock soon. And I am shocked (ba-dum-pum) at the change in my palette. My taste buds feel autistic, my sense of smell is much better as well and I experience textures like I gobble pure MDMA before every meal.

I know I am prone to hyperbole, but I almost passed out the other night while eating Rouge River blue (OR) cheese and having a glass of Thomas Hardy 1998 ale. As there is nothing more obnoxious than the newly anointed zealot I will shut up now.

Anyone else quit and notice a change?

Toby



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#22 jvalentino

jvalentino
  • participating member
  • 200 posts

Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:15 PM

Anyone else quit and notice a change?

Toby

View Post


Definately.

I quit about 2 years ago, and have noticed a big difference in taste, which I feel is at least partialy to blame for my newfound addition to my midsection. :raz:

#23 Mikeb19

Mikeb19
  • participating member
  • 405 posts

Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:29 PM

I have know of people who take up smoking when they started cooking, just for the breaks.  You would be laughed at if you said "Hey guys I'm going to sit down for five min."  Where, "I'm going for a butt", Seems fine.

View Post


My prep cook in Edmonton took up smoking for that very reason, at age 15. Smokers got to go slack off for 5-10 minutes every couple of hours, and non-smokers didn't...so he started lighting up.

Me, I'd just spend several minutes "looking for an elusive ingredient" in the walk-in... :cool:

View Post


Hah, I remember when I started cooking I was told that if I ever wanted to get a break I'd have to take up smoking. I just said @#$% that, took a break everytime the smokers took one, no one ever said anything.

As for what smoking does to your palate, several heavy smokers told me it has indeed affected their palate. Heavy drinking also dulls your palate. I decided not to take up smoking mostly because I'm a bit of a health nut, plus I don't have the money to waste on cigarettes...

#24 Batard

Batard
  • participating member
  • 389 posts
  • Location:Northern NJ

Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:40 PM

I know I am prone to hyperbole, but I almost passed out the other night while eating Rouge River blue (OR) cheese and having a glass of Thomas Hardy 1998 ale. As there is nothing more obnoxious than the newly anointed zealot I will shut up now.

Anyone else quit and notice a change?

Toby

View Post

It made a huge difference to me. The small nuances in food that I have been missing for years has come back, and I find myself less spice-heavy than I used to be. I think I am appreciating the subtleties I was missing before, and noticing background and layered flavors more. And my sense of smell has gotten so much better, I use my nose a lot more when I am cooking and buying food now. I think I embarrass my wife because now I like to give my meals a good long sniff before digging in, and she finds that a little bit ill-mannered.
"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."
Fergus Henderson

#25 JimmyWu

JimmyWu
  • participating member
  • 64 posts
  • Location:North Carolina

Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:40 PM

What about hot peppers and the palate ? I keep forgetting not to partake, I'm a big fan but can't taste anything for a while after. Kinda sucks when your plating after you've eaten and you have to trust that you seasoned everything just right.

Jimmy
Typos are Copyrighted @

#26 turkeybone

turkeybone
  • participating member
  • 144 posts

Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:55 PM

When I was at CIA a few years ago there were probably 5 of us out of 100 that didnt smoke.
Rico

#27 Pontormo

Pontormo
  • participating member
  • 2,589 posts

Posted 13 January 2008 - 09:45 PM

Andrew, I am very interested in this topic, too, and asked culinary professionals who are members here if they smoked. FYI, here's what was said a couple of years ago: Chefs, Cooks & Cigarettes.
"Viciousness in the kitchen.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#28 san

san
  • participating member
  • 140 posts
  • Location:Berkley, MI

Posted 14 January 2008 - 06:37 AM

Thankfully gone are the days of stirring the soup pot with a butt dangling from the cooks lips


I did a dining room stage last month at an old school restaurant here in Detroit that recently (a few years ago) won the Restaurant of the Year in the local upscale magazine. Walked into the kitchen at about 8:30 and saw the exec. chef on the line calling out orders in the middle of the rush with a marlboro hanging out of his mouth. Incidentally the Maitre D' interviewed me the day before while standing above me and smoking as I sat in a chair and answered his questions. Probably should have noticed the red flag blowing in my face.

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com  www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany  twitter: @theoakland


#29 rockandroller

rockandroller
  • participating member
  • 207 posts

Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:14 AM

Some years ago, my mother and I both noticed how salty restaurant food is and have remarked on it ever since. Now that I think about it, this is around the time when we both quit smoking. I wonder if smoking is one of the reasons why restaurant food is so salty?

#30 Megan Kathleen

Megan Kathleen
  • participating member
  • 44 posts
  • Location:The Hostile City

Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:16 PM

I recently quit the same way Toby has- Chantix (it works) and behavior modification. It's been right around four months. My general attitude toward life has improved as a result; whether this will have a lasting effect on my palate remains to be seen.

I haven't noticed much of a change in my own experience of "restaurant food." It's been (and stayed) like this: whatever it is I'm eating, I like my food to taste like itself. Some things just need more salt than others toward that end. I have no problem tasting salt in a dish, but it does frustrate me when the discretion required to properly season one or two components of a plate isn't realized, especially in an upmarket place.

Habitual, aggressive-defensive oversalting is a problem, however. It remains far more worrisome to me than either chronic undersalting or unwitting/overenthusiastic oversalting is. I know it when I taste it, as I expect most of us do. I'll stay out of the realm of conjecture, as it (demonstrably) may or may not have to do with cigarette smoking, and merely say I'm glad I've encountered it infrequently in my professional experience, as the accompanying contentiousness (in 100% of the cases I've observed) is no good for nobody.
"What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today." - Thomas Keller