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

Doug Psaltis

Cookbook

  • Please log in to reply
531 replies to this topic

#91 bergerka

bergerka
  • participating member
  • 864 posts
  • Location:Madrid

Posted 22 September 2005 - 05:17 PM

I think that alot of people on here had let this thread get a little out of hand ,  but I think that it is justified sort of because some of you are quite close to the people being discussed.  I am also  very surprised a the view of some people have taken towards Chef Psaltis and the incident that is being talked about.  Chef Bourdain I am sure that you know that life in kitchens is quite different then that of most every other industry that I know of.  You yourself have written about drug use and physical abuse in your own books , but is now condeming a slap on the hand.  I am not saying what Chef Psaltis did was right,  and by all accounts niether is he.  Yes he did ommit it from his own book, but given the fact that I know Chef Psaltis as a very intense and driven chef who wants nothing more then to be the best at what he does I am not surprised he left it out considering he must feel very bad and embarrassed about the incident itself. Lets not forget that it is his book and is free to write what he wants and it is by choice that you read it.  Second of all why would Chef Psatis spend more time on here considering that he is about to open a restaurant in Manhatten when the last time he posted he was basically torn apart by certain members.  I aslo think that Mr. Shaw was wrong in what he was saying for a couple of reasons.  Isn't it possible that after this incident happened that by his addmission he was already a few steps out the door and he was very frustrated with the restaurant and vice versa,  he and Chef Keller could have talked about the incident and said" You know what this isn't working out for either of use and maybe it's time we parted way" .  Also calling the food runner in the incident obnoxious was a little narrow minded considering you don't even know him.  I do know him and I wouldn't call him obnoxious more nieve then anything who' background isn't as disciplined and expierenced as Chef Psaltis.  Can we possibly drop all this shit and focus on the book as a whole,  which I might add is interesting to read.

View Post


My guess is, since this is a post from someone who actually worked with Psaltis at the time referenced in the book and discussed here in minute detail, that this is the closest to an account of the upshot of the incident as we're going to ever get - or should need. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I might also just add that leaving by "mutual decision" is regarded very differently from being fired, at least at my day job. Hypothetically speaking.

I'm not entirely convinced that Psaltis should, as has been intimated in this thread, have disclosed the actual circumstance of his departure from TFL in his book, as - who knows - there may have even been confidentiality agreements involved. While I have no idea whether such a thing happens in the food business or not, it certainly does in the opera business.

Back to the cheap seats. Who's got the popcorn again? Are there any kit-kats left?

K
Basil endive parmesan shrimp live
Lobster hamster worchester muenster
Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi
Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert
Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks
Provolone flatbread goat's head soup
Gruyere cheese angelhair please
And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.
--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

#92 MSchmidt909

MSchmidt909
  • participating member
  • 27 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:49 PM

[I might also just add that leaving by "mutual decision" is regarded very differently from being fired, at least at my day job. .

sometimes, leaving by "mutual decision" requires signing a document that says
"don't sue us for wrongful termination, and we will give you a good reference"
no matter what the situation.
M. Schmidt
Cafe909.com


#93 Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall
  • participating member
  • 2,334 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:13 AM

I think a more important question than the degree of "the slap" is whether or not Psaltis was fired because of it. We're still waiting for that answer.

View Post

I think the more fundamental question is, why is it such an affront to a chef to have someone lean on the pass? Should I take offense next time someone comes to talk to me and puts a hand on my desk? This is the stuff that gives chefs the rep of being more high strung than thoroughbreds. Get over yourself for godsake.

View Post

What I find bewildering is why DP chose to slap the kid's hand rather than, in the grand tradition of chefs since time immemorial, shout in a voice loud enough to be heard by the folks in the parking lot "Get your freakin' hand off the freakin' pass before I fire your freakin' freak-a-deak ass".

View Post


In the UK, i believe a hot palette knife is the tool of choice.
you don't win friends with salad

#94 MobyP

MobyP
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,198 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:45 AM

Didn't Ruhlman note in his book that Keller had burned some waiter/bus boy:
(Pg245) ""Ah!" Thomas has set the scalding terrine on (the person's) hand... Keller, leaning down an inch or two toward David... says, "I want your attention here."

Pot calling kettle black anyone?
"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

#95 IrishCream

IrishCream
  • participating member
  • 764 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 03:51 AM

Didn't Ruhlman note in his book that Keller had burned some waiter/bus boy:
(Pg245) ""Ah!" Thomas has set the scalding terrine on (the person's) hand... Keller, leaning down an inch or two toward David... says, "I want your attention here."

Pot calling kettle black anyone?

View Post


Ok. Here is what I don't understand. What does Keller and his behavior have to do with this? It's not about Keller. It's about Psaltis. Earlier in the thread Russ Parsons said we were talking about angels dancing on the head of a pin, and we don't know if the angels or the pin exist. He's wrong. Psaltis himself admitted slapping a co-worker, someone who was, perhaps, under his authority. That's the pin. So now people are trying to justify that behavior by saying, "Well, Keller did it. too" ???

That is so wrong. I am not condemning Psaltis. I haven't read the book and I can understand being frustrated. But please don't attack Keller because of Psaltis. That's really stretching it.
Lobster.

#96 Christopher Haatuft

Christopher Haatuft
  • participating member
  • 295 posts
  • Location:Bergen, Norway

Posted 23 September 2005 - 04:13 AM

Enough about the slapping. What is the core problem here? Is Mr. Psaltis giving an inaccurate description of the French Laundry? Im considering buying the book, but it looses all interest for me if theres a second story to it that undermines his recount.

#97 MobyP

MobyP
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,198 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 04:24 AM

But please don't attack Keller because of Psaltis.  That's really stretching it.

View Post


You're missing my point. It seems unlikely Keller would fire someone for slapping a waiter's hand when he's not there, if he's in the habit of placing "scalding soup terrines" on waiter's hands when he is there.

Thus the whole 'assault' issue seems called into question.
"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

#98 IrishCream

IrishCream
  • participating member
  • 764 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 04:41 AM

Oh? Who said anything about firing? Only you.
Lobster.

#99 DutchMuse

DutchMuse
  • participating member
  • 387 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 05:34 AM

Irish...please read lots of comments above. Some posters (who suggest they have 'inside information') have insinuated Psaltis was fired b/c of this incident.

#100 sizzleteeth

sizzleteeth
  • participating member
  • 382 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 08:31 AM

It's so sobering to see that things follow a cycle so closely that you could almost sit back and set up Dominoes and watch them fall in a predictable pattern in every direction.

I didn't read the book and I could really care less, any person in their right mind has to understand that beneath the shiny surface of any spotless facade there is shadow and darkness and secret - the very things held back to ensure that facade stays shiny and clean in the first place - on all sides.

To assume that it is that way by default and no scrubbing is done to make it shine, is ignorance.

Support the system and the system supports you, attack the system and the system tries to destroy you... it's like clockwork... almost like a law of nature.

Is it really rational to believe that that walk-ins in any place don't get messy or that in any situation, especially high pressure situations, that tempers don't flare and things that should not be said get said and things that should not be done get done, or that there are any flawless characters or flawless restaurants devoid of all the human inadequacies that exist in everyone?

I'm always surprised to read or see that anyone tolerates any kind of verbal or physical abuse from anyone, famous chef or not, it must be extremely important to some to be able to keep the bridges and affiliations that ensure their ability to evoke said things in the future in order to use them to their benefit - no matter what the cost.


nathan gray

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan


#101 inny

inny
  • participating member
  • 67 posts
  • Location:Cinci

Posted 23 September 2005 - 10:41 AM

sizzleteeth - you make an excellent point. But, I wonder whether or not the issue here is less a matter of perception than a matter of deception (in the most minor sense of the word).

As a reader, I expect a non-fiction writer to be honest about including details that will help me understand and interpret the situation being described, as the author understands it. I don't expect the pure unvarnished truth - that's a matter of perception. However, if an author omits details that will help me understand things in the way s/he understands them, then the veracity of the rest is in question.

Its a niggling point, but that's my view from the cheap seats. I'll go back to my popcorn now...
Anna
------
"I brought you a tuna sandwich. They say it's brain food. I guess because there's so much dolphin in it, and you know how smart they are." -- Marge Simpson

#102 sizzleteeth

sizzleteeth
  • participating member
  • 382 posts

Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:54 PM

The point is, and I hesitate to even post any further, that the book no doubt contains both accurate and inaccurate information and that both the accuracy and inaccuracy are to varying degrees and subject to the perception of multiple parties.

All parties have their particular interests in mind and there is significance to why whom is on what side.

There is more to it being written than for it's sake alone and there is more to the reactions of defense than meets the eye - regardless of these specific instances are true or not - the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of something similar being true - whether experienced by this particular person or not.

edit:
I digress.

Edited by Marlene, 23 September 2005 - 09:11 PM.



nathan gray

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan


#103 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 23 September 2005 - 06:23 PM

The turn of this thread is very sad.
As one of the few posters here who has read the book, I can say there's a lot more to it than the last chapter. It would be a shame to discredit the whole book over one omission, no matter how blaring it may be.
And frankly, as someone who has worked in a professional kitchen for a decade, I am not shocked by the hand slap. I've seen worse. The guy was a jerk and Psaltis slapped him. He didn't dump a bucket of water on him (seen that), punch him (seen that too), or grab him by the neck (saw that a couple times). He didn't call him a fucking idiot a la Gordon Ramsay. He slapped him and it sounds like the guy had it coming. Of course there are slaps and there are SLAPS...
As for the French Laundry bit, so Keller's kitchen wasn't as tight a ship as Ducasse's. I would never have thought differently. Are reservations being cancelled at TFL or Per Se over this?
I agree with Bourdain that it would have made the book better, to show the real SEASONING of a chef. Show off your warts, and you might even get some sympathy. That it's not there doesn't bother me. I guess I'm in a minority here.
I still recommend the book.

#104 dvs

dvs
  • participating member
  • 450 posts
  • Location:Yountville, CA

Posted 23 September 2005 - 07:31 PM

my thoughts on the walk-in comments...
go to tfl tonight... any night for that matter. ask them for a tour & you'll get it. the place is clean. during service at least.
could it be that the walk-in comment was a bit of an exaggeration? or that during off hours, things are a bit disorganized?

#105 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 23 September 2005 - 09:25 PM

I think you would have to compare the walk-in at Ducasse to the walk-in at TFL to understand what he meant. Psaltis obviously has a walk-in fixation. He discusses it a few times in the book.
I think for people WHO READ THE BOOK that it's important to set the scene at the Laundry at the time. With Per Se going in NY he says a lot of the best chefs had gone and he was working with a kitchen in transition. It's all very clear IF YOU READ THE BOOK.

#106 dvs

dvs
  • participating member
  • 450 posts
  • Location:Yountville, CA

Posted 23 September 2005 - 09:55 PM

I think you would have to compare the walk-in at Ducasse to the walk-in at TFL to understand what he meant. Psaltis obviously has a walk-in fixation. He discusses it a few times in the book.
I think for people WHO READ THE BOOK that it's important to set the scene at the Laundry at the time. With Per Se going in NY he says a lot of the best chefs had gone and he was working with a kitchen in transition. It's all very clear IF YOU READ THE BOOK.

View Post

ok.. i haven't READ THE BOOK. but i have a question... what was psaltis' position at tfl at the time? was the condition of the walk-in HIS responsibility? even if it wasn't his direct responsibility, at a place like that (and really, everywhere) its everyone's duty to keep the joint straight.
i'll read the BOOK eventually...

#107 Mark Sommelier

Mark Sommelier
  • participating member
  • 1,539 posts
  • Location:Washington, DC

Posted 23 September 2005 - 10:13 PM

I think you would have to compare the walk-in at Ducasse to the walk-in at TFL to understand what he meant. Psaltis obviously has a walk-in fixation. He discusses it a few times in the book.
I think for people WHO READ THE BOOK that it's important to set the scene at the Laundry at the time. With Per Se going in NY he says a lot of the best chefs had gone and he was working with a kitchen in transition. It's all very clear IF YOU READ THE BOOK.

View Post

Attention Michael Ruhlman! This should be the subject of your next book. Famous Chef's Walk-ins. Yikes!
Mark

#108 pim

pim
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 23 September 2005 - 10:57 PM

The turn of this thread is very sad.
.......

The guy was a jerk and Psaltis slapped him.

View Post


No, it is the rush to blame the victim that is sad. How do YOU know he was a jerk? Hitting someone is wrong. Period. Making it sound like the poor guy had it coming is just low.
chez pim
not an arbiter of taste

#109 Jonathan Day

Jonathan Day
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,730 posts
  • Location:London and Mougins, France

Posted 24 September 2005 - 04:30 AM

I hope that Lesley was using "the guy was a jerk" rhetorically, rather than as a statement of fact, just as Shaw referred to "the obnoxious server"; I doubt he was saying he had personal knowledge that the server was at fault. But given sensitivities all round, let's try even harder to distinguish fact from opinion.

Of course a victim shouldn't be blamed; as most parents say to their children several times a day, "just because he did it to you doesn't make it OK for you to do it to him..."

I'm struck by Moby's comment, and some that Tony Bourdain and Farid made. It's clear that hazing and physical harassment were condoned in restaurant kitchens, not that long ago. Verbal and psychological hazing and abuse were not uncommon in professional settings (law firms, hospitals, etc.) as late as the early 1990s, and I'm sure there is still some of this around. In general, though, the last few years have seen increasing intolerance of hazing, shouting at staff, etc., at least in well run businesses. Those who suffer these things now have recourse to support, and those who do them tend to get coaching or dismissal.

Is that how it is these days in restaurant kitchens everywhere? Are they no longer the place of cursing and shouting and sticking colleagues with forks, as described in Bourdain's book? That seems like a positive development to me.

(For the avoidance of doubt: Lesley is no longer on the staff of eGullet, just a valued member of the Society.)

Edited by Jonathan Day, 24 September 2005 - 04:52 AM.

Jonathan Day
"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

#110 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 24 September 2005 - 06:18 AM

No, it is the rush to blame the victim that is sad. How do YOU know he was a jerk? Hitting someone is wrong. Period. Making it sound like the poor guy had it coming is just low.


If the guy did what Psaltis said he did, he's a jerk. It was a jerky thing to do.
Anyway, jerk is a low-level jab in my books. I didn't call him an asshole or an idiot, I just called him a jerk.
So sorry if I offended you. :hmmm:

#111 Dirk Wheelan

Dirk Wheelan
  • legacy participant
  • 177 posts

Posted 24 September 2005 - 08:25 AM

No, it is the rush to blame the victim that is sad. How do YOU know he was a jerk? Hitting someone is wrong. Period. Making it sound like the poor guy had it coming is just low.


If the guy did what Psaltis said he did, he's a jerk. It was a jerky thing to do.
Anyway, jerk is a low-level jab in my books. I didn't call him an asshole or an idiot, I just called him a jerk.
So sorry if I offended you. :hmmm:

View Post


Even from the most perfunctory reading of Pim's post, it's entirely clear that she was not objecting the the term 'jerk', but to Psaltis' violence. Indeed, the victim of the 'slap' may even have been an 'asshole' or and 'idiot', but this doesn't mitigate the slap. Rather, it only serves to further humiliate the person who was slapped, by suggesting that he 'had it coming'.

Or would you accept that anyone who thinks of you, Lesley C, in these terms is entitled to slap you?

Edited by Dirk Wheelan, 24 September 2005 - 08:26 AM.


#112 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 24 September 2005 - 05:25 PM

Yes, I could take a slap if I was acting in a disrespectful manner. Not a kick, mind you, but a slap. Violence is a strong word for what Psaltis said was a "light slap."
Look, I've had a greasy French pastry chef once push me against a wall and kiss me. It was violent and disgusting. And I didn't get him fired.
I just told everyone what he did.

#113 Bux

Bux
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 12,211 posts
  • Location:New York City

Posted 24 September 2005 - 05:52 PM

Yes, I could take a slap if I was acting in a disrespectful manner. Not a kick, mind you, but a slap. Violence is a strong word for what Psaltis said was a "light slap."
Look, I've had a greasy French pastry chef once push me against a wall and kiss me. It was violent and disgusting. And I didn't get him fired.
I just told everyone what he did.

View Post

Lesley, you may be a paragon of a kitchen employee, but no one has claimed the slapee got Psaltis fired. I don't believe Psaltis has said he was fired, nor would I be quick to believe any chef would fire a valued employee simply on the word of a runner. More to the point however is that you told everyone what happened. Had the chef, executive, or owner decided to fire the pastry chef on the basis of your tale would there be a different point to your story? What exactly do you believe this runner, assuming he was a runner--I don't know what to believe--was able to do to single handedly get the chef to fire Psaltis?
Robert Buxbaum
WorldTable
Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.
My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

#114 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 24 September 2005 - 06:45 PM

Look Bux, at this point I don't know what's going on here, but the inuendo is as thick as creme brulee.
Some posters implied that if you touch someone, you're out. I just don't think a slap is a big deal. Gordon Ramsay shoves hot plates of food on people and you don't hear them complaining.
Others are saying Psaltis omitted this story on purpose. Does it matter enough to question his credibility? I don't think so, but to each his own.
What bothers me most here is that this thread has evolved from a discussion about the book, to a detailed analysis of Doug's hand-slapping story.
I read the book and I don't think Psaltis is smearing the French Laundry. There are some criticisms yes, but that's part and parcel of the book. Heck on page 209 he recounts being in Ducasse's Paris kitchen and seeing two chefs punch another in the chest. I'll bet Alain isn't too pleased to see that in there either.

#115 culinary bear

culinary bear
  • participating member
  • 858 posts
  • Location:Preston, United Kingdom

Posted 24 September 2005 - 08:25 PM

I believe there's a well-used, even hackneyed phrase, to the effect that all publicity is good whether negative or otherwise.

As regards hand-slapping - I've seen a burly Glaswegian sous threaten a waiter with physical violence : "If you don't get your hand of that pass, I'll fucking break it" - but in today's litigious, risk-averse and politically sensitive age, slapping someone's hand away, regardless of the force of the slap, isn't a sensible idea.

Now if that's the straw that broke the camel's back, as has been claimed, then I might dare venture that the camel was already pretty heavily laden. No kitchen is going to part company with a senior chef on that basis alone.

As to credibility as an author, selective memory, "editorial neccessity' amd the like - everyone tends to paint themselves in a favourable light, but there is a threshold. If that's been stepped over, than shame, scorn and approbrium should rightly follow.
Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#116 dvs

dvs
  • participating member
  • 450 posts
  • Location:Yountville, CA

Posted 24 September 2005 - 09:34 PM

Yes, I could take a slap if I was acting in a disrespectful manner. Not a kick, mind you, but a slap. Violence is a strong word for what Psaltis said was a "light slap."
Look, I've had a greasy French pastry chef once push me against a wall and kiss me. It was violent and disgusting. And I didn't get him fired.
I just told everyone what he did.

View Post

i am sooooooooooo extremely upset that you didn't get the person who did that to you fired. its the brush under the rug of that kind of horseshit that scares good women away from the industry.
i hope you're ok. that person should have been dismissed. not finger pointed at.

#117 pim

pim
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 24 September 2005 - 10:05 PM

So sorry if I offended you.  :hmmm:

View Post


I'm sorry you are still not getting it. It is not me you should apologize to. Just because you are willing to take abuse doesn't mean you should expect others to.

Whether the runner personally got Doug Psaltis fired was immaterial. The action itself -not to mention the liability it could incur for the restaurant- could have gotten him fired, regardless of what the runner himself might have wanted.

I still don't see a reason to call that runner anything, light though that "jab" may be in your mind.
chez pim
not an arbiter of taste

#118 Lesley C

Lesley C
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,548 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 25 September 2005 - 06:03 AM

Funny, I thought I was standing up for a chef here.
I like this book, and I especially like seeing a chef writing about his life instead of a food writer doing it for him.

#119 culinary bear

culinary bear
  • participating member
  • 858 posts
  • Location:Preston, United Kingdom

Posted 25 September 2005 - 06:20 AM

I especially like seeing a chef writing about his life instead of a food writer doing it for him.

View Post


As the book is written by "Doug Psaltis with Michael Psaltis", I'd be interested to know how much was written by whom.

edited : to correct spelling

Edited by culinary bear, 25 September 2005 - 06:21 AM.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#120 Dirk Wheelan

Dirk Wheelan
  • legacy participant
  • 177 posts

Posted 25 September 2005 - 08:52 AM

Yes, I could take a slap if I was acting in a disrespectful manner.

View Post


How do you envisage the process of establishing 'disrespect'?

By this I mean, is it sufficient to merely feel 'disrespected' before lashing out, or should one firmly establish disrespect has been committed before slapping?

Also, which of these scenarios do you imagine most reflects the Psaltis incident?





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Cookbook