Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by emilymarie

  1. At a lot of the restaurants in my area, many of the waiters and bussers are high school and college-aged and are just doing the job for some extra money. As soon as the work's done--and I mean AS SOON and no later--they are out of there. Not to say that they don't have a good work ethic, but there is not that strong a sense of connection to the restaurant, which in turn, I think, leads to a slightly more casual attitude about making everything perfect. On the other hand, I think that a lot of cooks feel like the food they put out is a product of an entire day's work--it is, really--and when it sits and starts to get limp or cold or whatever or is brought to the wrong person it's so disappointing--plus it reflects poorly on the restaurant (a customer will think, I paid $12 for a limp salad?). There is so much pressure to get food out cooked, hot, fast, and looking nice--and when there is disaorganization in the front, food doesn't go out as it should, and all of the work the cook has put into a dish is all but lost. This is the cause for some of the fights, I think.
  2. I will be seeing a show at Caffe Lena on November 21. Is Chez Sophie, which based on many good reviews here I would love to try, within driving distance of Caffe Lena (under 20 minutes)? And is www.chezsophie.com their website? It's in Malta, which I'm pretty sure is the place you're all speaking of (I'm unfamiliar with that part of NY, I apologize). thanks.
  3. CityCook, great posts. V. funny and great to read. I am new to the world of professional kitchens and all of your postings, anxieties, and lists (from earlier posts) are RIGHT on. I'm curious--why have you decided that you no longer want to be a chef? What made you change your mind, and are you leaving culinary altogether? I look forward to reading more...
  4. emilymarie

    Per Se

    Thanks, Bux. I will probably call a week or so in advance to let them know my specific allergies.
  5. emilymarie

    Per Se

    thanks, everyone. will do and i can't wait.
  6. emilymarie

    Per Se

    So can I just show up for dinner and tell them about my restrictions or should I give some notice? And who do I call? thanks...
  7. emilymarie

    Per Se

    I have been lucky enough to snag a reservation at Per Se in December. I have, however, just found out much to my dismay and utter disappointment that I am allergic to fin fish. I can eat shellfish and fish stock, just not a whole piece of fish at once. Now, my plan is to do the chef's tasting menu. Suzanne, you say that Bond Girl made substitutions for things she doesn't eat. Since I can't eat fish fillets, can I call the restaurant to explain my situation to them? And should I go into the whole can eat fish stock but not fillets situation? How flexible is the restaurant in making substitutions? And who should I call--the reservation line again or should I just go to the restaurant myself closer to dinner day? thanks for the advice (even tho I'm still 2 months away from dinner day, I'm already bouncing off the walls excited).
  8. Sinclair, thanks for answering my question (though you may have inadvertently) about why you continue to do the job. I think what you've said here about why you do it is exactly why I want to do it. I know plenty of people who love to cook and who cook all of the time at home and for friends and family, and while I love to cook as well, it's something more than that which draws me to the kitchen. As I wrote many posts ago, you could call this passion or, as you do Sinclair, a sort of obsession. It's the pursuit of learning and of bettering myself, of trying to be consistent and perfect as often as possible. (I think that the ongoing posts from Grant Achatz and the creation of the new menu at his restaurant, Alinea, are a very good illustration of what Sinclair is talking about here--really exciting stuff there!) My grandmother got me interested in food and her desire to want to feed me constantly because she loves me is what drew me to all of this--but it's not what makes me want to keep going. And I finally understand what you meant when you said that women work for themselves and quietly. I at first misinterpreted this to mean quietly as in, in the background and associated what you said with women being weaker or meek in some way and not wanting to move ahead. But now it's clear to me what you were saying--why you do this is because of a personal goal/mission you have set for yourself. My two cents. And to Arielle--funny.
  9. Me again-- So, may I ask, why do you do it still? What brought you into the business and why do you continue? I'm being completely sincere here, by the way. I'm very interested in your thoughts as someone who's been doing this for awhile (or so it appears)--and certainly longer than I have. I harbor no delusions about the job being easy, carefree, not full of stress..I know I'm not going to get to sit all day (at all) or float about the kitchen doing whatever I want. I know what to expect but I'm still holding onto my whole striving for perfection and desire to learn thing--even tho I know I'm going to have to do it while getting my ass kicked and maybe myself spit on...
  10. Well, at some point, do people's egos grow to such extreme levels that it's no longer about the food? Yes and I am sure that many of these great chefs are motivated by money and fame, and not the desire to cut the perfect brunoise, etc. What I was trying to say is that I think that Jean-Georges and his peers (and all great culinary innovators male and female) have some sort of innate understanding of food and cooking that, along with some other external factors including being able to judge what the public wants, made them successful. I think that this intelligence and creativity were there when these people made the jump from cook to chef and is still there, lurking somewhere beneath the dollar bills and thousand-dollar suits. Whether or not as he's become uber-successful JG actually applies this genius/creativity is up for grabs, but that was not the point I was trying to make. Perhaps that's a matter for another thread--Why do chefs seem to move farther away from the kitchen the more successful they get?
  11. I think that you have made some interesting points here, especially when you broadened the discussion to ask the question why women are so underrepresented in the upper echelons in most industries. And part of me thinks that despite all of my expressed resentment when other posters have said that women like to work quietly and more in the background than men (I apologize to this poster but I can't remember exactly what was said. I read it to say that women, by nature, did not require the outward praise, pomp, and circumstance that some male chefs want when they reach a certain level) and can't make it to the top b/c of our biological clocks, our desires for family and relationships, I think you may have asked a good question: Do men and women become chefs for the same reason and if they don't, then will the outcomes be different for men and women? I want to become a cook/chef because I love food. I know that sounds so simplistic, and I can't articulate how exactly I feel about eating and cooking, but it's just a feeling that excites me and that gives me energy. And I'm just gonna go with that for the time being. Some other things that appeal to people I know is the adrenaline that takes over during service, the constant striving for perfection, consistency, more knowledge and experience. To do better all the time. The ability to create things all day and to feed other people, to make them happy. It's what comes after all of this that may make a difference to men versus women--but let's not underestimate the appeal of money, fame, etc., etc., to women. And so maybe this is why more men are famous, star chefs? Maybe they go that extra mile to get a certain amount of public attention, celebrity status. I have to say, however, that after reading your post that I was very deflated, disappointed, thinking: Ok, so now what? If, in fact, as you say: "The whole hard work, grindstone, earning respect and all are but quaint mythology for many if not most" what are the rest of us supposed to do? I think a lot of what you said is true--but that one's ability to cook, taste, and create is the most important thing to success. There is also a bit of luck and understanding of what the public is looking for and is ready to stomach, so to speak. Thomas Keller is who he is because he has some sort of an innate understanding of food and of how to put ingredients together, to create dishes and plate things that go beyond what most of the rest of us can. Same with someone like Grant Achatz and even Daniel Boulud, Jean Georges, and Eric Ripert (tho these last 3 came out of a bit of a different system than the first 2). I think they were all just born with these ideas that make them rise above everyone else. There are a lot of external factors here that contribute to their success but it is all rooted in their talent. Now, having said all of this I come back to the idea of precedence and the fact that there are fewer female precedent-setters, fewer successful women to act as teachers and mentors to young women, fewer women to challenge and push young female cooks in the same way that someone must have done with Keller and Achatz, and certainly with Daniel, Jean Georges, and Eric Ripert (regardless of whether or not they were inspired to cook initially by their mothers).
  12. I tried to reply earlier but my computer crashed RIGHT as I was re-reading my post over. GRRRR! This is a good exercise, Karen, because when I imagine finishing a wonderful meal and meeting the chef, I can't say that I would care one bit if it were a man or a woman. In fact, I might be more interested if it were a woman, and a lot more anxious to talk to this person about how she did it! Going back to that unpublished article I wrote, all of the women, regardless of whether or not they believed that women actually have a tougher time in the kitchen, agreed on 2 points: Ultimately, one of the major barriers to women working their way up thru the ranks was the lack of women mentors; and in the end, talent equals success. To address their first point, I think that a lot of us have already hit upon this idea--there are just so few women in high ranking positions in kitchens, not that many precedent-setters. All of the 5 or 6 women I interviewed were mentors to young, female culinary students through programs with Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, New York Women's Culinary Alliance (which was co-founded by Sara Moulton in the 80s), and Les Dames d'Escoffier (though probably to a lesser extent here than with the former 2). Obviously, mentoring is important to anyone starting out in this industry, and especially for women, who may not experience the same sort of camaraderie and friendship that men would have with eachother and could foster on a daily basis. Not to say that men and women can't be friends in a kitchen environment, but to go beyond that level and have someone to confide in, ask questions of, guide you, give you advice, make an investment in your future success, etc. is probably not as common for young women. Just this weekend I noticed that the chef was talking with his line cooks (all men) about Charlie Trotter and about his thoughts on food, in general. This kind of talk is so valuable to a young person starting out, I think, and if the comfort level isn't there between people, you just won't get that. One of the women I spoke with worked with Lidia Shire in Boston and said that what Ms. Shire did was unheard of at the time. But she did it--and the lesson this future chef took away from working with Ms. Shire was that if you wanted to succeed, you can. Edited for spelling...
  13. I completely agree with what you've said about how a person's perception and giving into stories about the reality of working in a kitchen and of how hard it is, etc. can really affect their ability to "climb that mountain." This is why I am so pig-headed about the whole thing and have kind of refused to give into the idea that there are certain things about being a woman that would make me somehow weak or unable to push ahead--or certainly any weaker than a man. It's my personal belief that how well you do anything depends on how much you want it and how focused you are. If you start to give into other people's doubts, how can you survive? I wouldn't be able to survive. Maybe I am different from many other women in this respect--in that I don't think that in a few years I will become sidelined by my maternal instincts or desire for balance, or at least any more so than anyone else in a kitchen. A man's wife may start to nag him about not being home, but my husband will surely do the same thing. I think, personally, that we need to cut this whole way of thinking out of this dialogue--because I think that similar forces, eventually, will start to pull on a man. And, any woman who wants to succeed in any business needs to make sacrifices--so it's not unique to working in a kitchen. I still don't know why, then, knowing this, so many women have not made it to the top. Is it really that the whole "women aren't suited to be top chefs" thing has really subtly influence how we think of ourselves as cooks and our chances for success? Do some women start to give into the ideology and see themselves as victims? Or is it, as was mentioned earlier, that there haven't been enough women as trailblazers?
  14. Would have to agree about Applegate's, especially that graham cracker flavor they've had. WOW!! That was delicious. My one complaint about the place (and I go to the on on Grove Street, which is dangerously close to my house) is that it takes a LONG time to get your ice cream. I sometimes wonder if they're scooping the stuff with the tiny plastic spoons we use to eat.
  15. I'd also like to add that Fatal's in Paterson makes a really good hummus. It's my favorite.
  16. When I spoke of opposition I did not mean to imply male chefs versus female chefs specifically. I was referring to the more general (maybe still prevailing) idea that women aren't suited to work in top kitchens, that we're not strong enough, etc. and will not want to make sacrifices necessary to build a career. And though I would say that I'm still very "green" in terms of experience, I do realize that there is a glass ceiling and that some men will resist my desires to climb to the top of the field--and some may not even take me seriously. I know I will have to work harder and maybe longer, that I may be held up to higher standards or more criticism and that if I whine I'll hear jokes about "that time of the month." But if I, now, at the very beginning of my career, give into all of the negativity and challenges, how will I ever succeed? It is just the way that I, personally, function. Before I go into this all, I need to understand what I'll face but push it to the back of my mind and just go forward. I know it's very physical work--I didn't think that I hadn't accepted this as a fact. If I didn't address it, I apologize. I've learned this in the time I've already spent in a kitchen. I do happen to be quite strong, and I know I have to hold my own. I know there will probably be things that I can't lift--maybe a 75 lb bag of flour, who knows? And as to the discussion of sacrifices, maybe, as you say, we should talk more generally about the sacrifices that both men and women need to make in order to work in this field. As you also say--you know many men who miss or want a family/spouse. I objected to the idea that many women won't make it to the top because they will start to want a family. It was really the generalization I objected to most. I think that making sacrifices is something anyone who really wants to be successful in their career needs to make. You put off having kids or you find people to babysit or you are lucky enough to have a partner--husband or wife--who doesn't work insane hours and can take care of the kids. I think, Sinclair, that I still look at this whole debate as a bit of a feminist. I am a year and a half out of college, and a women's college at that. I saw there women who had made it to the top of their field, who worked very hard and who had dedicated their lives to their work. I think it is the memory of some of these women who inspire me to this day and have made me so pig-headed.
  17. One more thing...A friend who worked in the pastry kitchen at the River Cafe and Picholine, among other NYC establishments once said that she practically forgot that she was a woman when she was working in the kitchen. She was referring to the fact that in order to fit in and be a part of the team, being "womanly" or not being accepting of certain types of lewd comments, actions, behavior, etc. would separate her from the rest of the kitchen workers. Another young woman who I know told me that it's rough being a woman in a kitchen has said that the guys now don't even worry about offending her when they tell jokes and that she's just as bad as they are in terms of coming up with these so-called dirty jokes. One of the male cooks who we both work with said that the fact that she'd done this--opened the door for the male cooks to include her in the joking around--put her in a somewhat compromised position. Does it? It seems to me like her way of coping with potentially uncomfortable situations--if she joins them, she will never be the subject of their joking. I will say, however, that there's a bit of a difference when a man tells a dirty joke to a woman than to another man. I read it as a sort of challenge or something or a come-on that kind of paints you in a certain light...good or bad?!
  18. A friend who is a cook told me that you need passion to make it. Everything else can be learned, but passion will drive you to wake up when you are exhausted, work the 13-14 hours required, deal with cuts, burns, yelling, etc. and, most important, force you to see beyond all of this to the reason why you do it--the satisfaction at the end of the night when you know you've busted your ass and everyone's been fed, all of the food's come together, looked nice and gone out. All of the work has paid off in such a tangible way. Passion will also drive you to learn constantly, to perfect what you're doing and to try new things, experiment with new tastes, ingredients, and plating. It is, in fact, this pursuit of plating the perfect, towering salad, making the most beautiful quenelle of ice cream, dicing every carrot evenly--and consistently--that I feed off of, not to mention the adrenaline that excites me during service. For me, I am keeping Carrot Top's words in mind: "It is a fire in the belly that will make women chefs..." I have this passion and I know what I will have to put up with, but I want it. I do not agree with the reasoning that women want more balance and don't want to sacrifice relationships or maternity for a career, and I especially have a problem with the idea that women don't feel the need to be achievers in public and are happy to pursue their work quietly. This is not something unique to women. Why would we internalize the arguments against women going into the kitchen in this way? To me, this just supports the opposition. I'm not saying that men and women are wired exactly the same. In fact, I don't think we are. But more than anything else, I think it is the difference in the way men interact with one another versus how they interact with women (and the comfort factor) that is important here. It's not that women are less strong or more sensitive or more prone to crying (and even if some are, this isn't what matters). When the modern kitchen as we know it was created, back in the days of Escoffier, it was male-dominated--and it still is today. I think it's that history has been able to perpetuate itself because women and men have internalized this very outdated idea that women are not in some way suited to this line of work. And I think the fact that the work is so physically demanding and hectic is a last attempt to kind of support the argument that women don't belong in kitchens. EDIT: Now, having realized this, why is it still that women with the passion and knowledge of what they'll have to put up with aren't joining the ranks of "great" chefs with the speed that men are? It would seem that knowing what you've got to deal with and having the determination to get over it are enough? Am I wrong? That's next, but I'll take a breather first.
  19. Carrot Top, what you've said is magnificent and absolutely inspiring to me as an aspiring chef! I've been out of college for a little over a year and completed one brief stage at a very high-end French restaurant in NYC during college and am now a stage at an Italian restaurant in NJ. Needless to say that I knew I wanted to cook when I left that very nice French kitchen after my first day of work. I wrote an unpublished piece posing this exact question to five or so female chef/restaurant owners and culinary icon-types. Ann Cooper, who was formerly the head of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, said (and I'm simplifying and condensing here) that the whole brigade system, since its conception, has been wholly male-dominated and embedded with military, male macho-ism. The coats, she notes, are modelled after Turkish army uniforms. She also said that at the James Beard Awards over 10 years ago, the chefs who were cooking for the event were presenting their food, with the women chefs in can-can outfits and the men in toques and chefs' coats. This, she told me, is what angered author Barbara Tropp to the point that she went home that night and wrote up a draft of the charter for what would become WCR. In discussions with the other women, one said that being a woman mattered, but that the key was never to admit that it mattered. She said that when she was starting out, she would try to beat the men at their own game, lifting the heaviest things in the kitchen and returning to the line right after getting cut or burned. Another woman described an internship in France as sheer hell and said that the French chefs she met (all male) did not want a woman working in their kitchen. Yet another said that when she first started out she would never wear a trace of makeup or jewelery and would tie her hair back in a very tight bun so as not to look overly feminine. What interested me the most, however, was what one female chef/owner of a very renowned restaurant in the Bay Area said: If you don't make a big deal out of being a woman, no one around you will. She said that she had to work harder than the other cooks but that she didn't regret it. Now, this is a very idealistic thing to say. You can't change how other people think just because of what you believe. Or can you? I think that what Carrot Top and this Bay Area chef are saying is essentially the same--you may have to work harder, stay longer, be more perfect--all the time; you know you're going to have to put up with the comments, leering, lack of support, etc.; but if you can accept this and move ahead with your blinders on, then you can do it. You can move up. If you don't think you're different, no one else will. In order to put up with all of what comes with being a woman in a kitchen, you need to have a rock-hard spirit, passion, confidence, and determination. Essentially, if you can show whoever may be doubting you that you don't need anymore help than John or Adam and that you believe in yourself, then they'll start to believe that you can do it too--and are as capable as the next guy on the line. I fear that I sound too idealistic and naive here...And I also fear that what I've said condones or accepts the fact that women will not be treated as equals, that our mistakes will put us two steps back rather than one
  20. emilymarie


    My two cents: I might not go to Epernay and Corso 98 with a large group. Epernay, though one of my favorites to eat, has a somewhat small dining room where I think it'd be hard to seat a party of 8 with privacy. Of course they have an upstairs loft, so that's an option. Overall, though, the room is a bit cramped and I always feel I'm right in the middle of the action (if that makes any sense) when I'm eating there. Good food, though. I found Corso to be trying to be a bit more upscale than it actually is. The decor seemed a bit off to me, i.e. too highfalutin for the kind of place that it is. Definitely a quiet place, though, and that may be what you're looking for. Osteria Giotto and Trattoria Fresco are both more casual and I would feel comfortable going to both of these places with large groups. You can be loud and eat a lot and share easily. Upbeat! The others, especially Amanda's and Village Green, though I have not yet been to either, are definitely fancier. Good luck and let us know what you choose!
  21. emilymarie


    A friend and I went to Danube for lunch one Sunday (maybe 2 and a half years ago now) and paid $35/person for a 5 course menu. If I recall we could make a reservation during restricted hours only (we ate in the middle of the afternoon). But the meal was worth more than two times what we paid, based on the quality of the food and the huge portions. I remember most vividly the goulash and the accompanying spaetzle, both of which melted in my mouth. Does the restaurant still have this special offer going? It was an amazing opportunity.
  22. I would have to agree. I have had a few very solid meals at craftbar, both capped off with just sensational desserts by Karen DeMasco, or at least that's what the menu said. I've never had a problem just walking in at night after work and geting a table. The deep-fried bay leaves stuffed with sausage are crunchy little bites of heaven, as was a house cocktail one night--with an orange liqueur (not grand marnier, if I recall), champagne, and a slice of candied orange. Downed 3 in an hour. Plate of cured meats and cheese pleased as did the chicken livers spread on toast and the panini sandwiches. All simple but well-prepared. And though I hate to admit this, I can't recall what I've had for dessert there--just that I remember being wowed!
  23. Where did you end up? Any good food to report? Am curious--and hungry (it's lunchtime).
  24. But isn't that what we're looking for here--the places that do get all of the elements right: perfectly cooked, juicy, on a substantial enough bun/roll/pieces of toast, whatever your preference, but still a nice meat-to-bun ratio)?
  • Create New...