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People in the Industry


Harry91
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I was recently looking at a chart on the CIA website that compares the GPA's of their incoming freshman, with that of NECI and J&W's. It astounded me that 30% of the students had a 3-3.5, 30% had a 2.5 to 3 and 30% had a 2 to 2.5. I'm only 16, but i do have a 4.0 GPA, and was just curious as to whether the people you come across daily in the food industry, are, well, smart. Now i dont mean "can they cook", obviously you could be an amazing chef, and not be able to put a sentence together. Let me know what you think.

-Harry

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Well I would say that I have cooked with plenty of "smart people." I have friends who previously studied something else before cooking as well as cooks who just like to be able to talk about something other than cooking. Cooks, the professional ones, for the most part are bright people and do have like to read books other than cookbooks. I went straight to the CIA after high school, and it would of been smart to take a couple courses elsewhere. I think it just really depends on the person, I have met college educated people who can't do basic math or have no common sense.

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I know a lot of people who didn't care to spend their time doing what it takes to get a 4.0 high school GPA. They are scientists, doctors and college professors, and yes, they can put sentences together. Some can even cook.

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The world is full of people who are ferociously intelligent without having had that reflected in their GPAs. I'm not sure how I would define intelligence other than as "a deep-seated curiousity about the world" and the ability to solve problems on the fly. I'm a member of MENSA, but I learned at conventions that asking fellow MENSANs, "So, what do you do for a living?" is what we call a BIG NO-NO. Lots and lots of social skill deficiencies in that group of people.

So. That said, I'm not sure one can cook effectively on a line without having at least a marginally-above-average IQ, measured by whatever test one chooses to administer (please disregard furor over effectiveness of same, TYVM). It takes, beyond a certain personality trait, an ability to think on the fly; to hold a bunch of stuff straight and in order inside one's head, and dump it off when no longer needed for service but be able to recall salient points for recipe development later.

My brother-in-law with the 12-pound brain is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met, and he'd make a good line cook if he weren't on research faculty at the University of Wisconsin doing positron emission tomography. His specialty is into Parkinson's research, but is considering writing a grant proposal to study memory development. I told him he ought to take a look at the brains of line cooks and sous-chefs and how, having tasted something once, we can come pretty close to re-creating it later: how some things in our lives bypass short-term memory and go straight into deep storage, and how with a little practice, we can use this for other things as well. How our memories work in funky, funky ways.

If for no other reason than then we could say, "See, I told you!! Our brains are different!!"

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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There is often a great gap between the educated and the inteligent

althought the math in baking classes drove me nuts

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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I'd almost go so far as to say that GPA data is utterly irrelevant and -- given the personality types I've encountered in and around various kitchens -- practically engineered not to reflect the talents and intelligence of the people who work in them (who range from relatively brilliant to borderline idiot-savant, as with every other profession).

Not to get all guidance counselor on you, but you might want to ask yourself if your concerns reflect pressures from your parents or yourself on your entering a "trade" rather than carrying your 4.0 off to an elite college and professional school. It's not uncommon (see this thread), but it may be something that has to be recognized and dealt with.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Where does the whole shomaker thing come in?...I had forgotten we used to call the chef Shoe

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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How's this for sentence formulation?

A 4.0 GPA won't get your shoemaker ass out of the weeds when the printer has diarrhea and a walk-in deuce just ordered the lamb shanks that you 86ed an hour ago!

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Amen brotha! Even though I graduated Cum Laude from J&W, I still feel the same way. GPA's are worthless statistics. Im good at what I do, and my grades reflected that. No more. :: shrugs ::

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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I wrote a long megilla that ended up making little sense.

Harry, my friendly advice to you is not to classify people as "smart" or "dumb." It's hard to do if you're "smart" in the conventional sense but it is not nice and it's not useful.

Edited by mojoman (log)
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My undergrad at university GPA was 3.8 overall with my primary course of study being a 4.0. I was accepted and attended Michigan Law School, and now, well drool to get some back of the house stints making amazing food. However, with FOH experience, I rake in a fair amount of money without the stress of working as a lawyer or ad exec. And I make my own hours. Is that smart? Or lazy? Or dumb? :raz:

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I graduated high school valedictorian. Attended some culinary school, dropped out to cook, went to Colombia for writing, dropped out, to cook, read voraciously and was lucky enough to have very smart very funny people around me in every restaurant. I, like stoilncuervo wonder if I am lazy, if I copped out by not trying to be something more accomplished, brain surgeon, a helicopter pilot saving lives, or a lawyer fighting for the innocent and unjustly accused.

But if I had “bought in” (the nice way of saying selling out) and was chained to a desk over a hundred hours a week in my twenties, would I have lived in Thailand with it’s mind-blowing food, and even more mind blowing sticks. Most probably not. Would I have lived in India where I ate Pataak-a-shaak on my porch while watching the sun drape gold and violet on the Himalayas? My guess is…nope. Would I have traveled all over the globe with beautiful women eating and drinking wonderful things, meeting amazing people, and getting exotic intestinal diseases’. That would be a negatory. Would I have forged friendships in the pits of hell (the un-air-conditioned kitchen at the Blue Mesa in Chicago in July) that have lasted the trials of time and distance? Um, no. Would I have found an art that can titillate all five senses, an art that makes me so happy that I occasionally think I am going to have an ecstatic aneurism? Again, I must concede the negative.

On the flip side, would my hands, and arms be covered in cuts, scars? No. Would My liver be more pristine without all the late nights, long ago, of too much booze, Bolivian marching powder and too many cocktail waitresses? You can probably guess the answer to THAT one. Would It have been nice to have health insurance so I could have dealt with knee and dental issues in a timely fashion. YUP!!!

But I must quote the Chairman of the Board (and Sid Vicious)

“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again too few to mention”

Am I Smart or Dumb? You be the Judge.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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It's a mix of people, just like any other job.

Working at a University, I've met supposedly "smart" people who live their lives like idiots and treat every one around them like dirt.

Working in restaurants, I met cooks who knew more about politics than most editorial writers.

Some really smart people decide they don't want to sit in a cubicle for 40 hours a week or lecture students at a University.

And some really dumb people have PHDs.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I have worked with philosophy to environmental science majors from the University of Wisconsin to Columbia. I have also worked with some of the most utterly useless human beings I could have ever imagined. Like anything else, it's a mix.

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But if I had “bought in” (the nice way of saying selling out).......Would I have found an art that can titillate all five senses, an art that makes me so happy that I occasionally think I am going to have an ecstatic aneurism? Again, I must concede the negative.

Am I Smart or Dumb?  You be the Judge.

The business- it's full of folks who take a broad, interdisciplinary view of things, who have a lot of natural curiosity and ambition, and who come from wildly diverse backgrounds. Maybe it's because they're definitely not in it for the money or the gold-plated health plan! All I can say is it's a happy home for me- abundant intellectual stimulation, exposure to interesting people who often have wonderful, colorful stories to tell, honesty to the point of bluntness, good humor and camaraderie, all of that. Though I'm a big ol' egghead, I don't have the proper temperament for making a success of myself on the academic scene. I found that out the hard way, and it was as close as I've yet come to "selling out." When you're in class and thinking about how excited you are about going to the restaurant at 3:30, what the specials are going to be, you start to wonder what you're paying $900 a credit hour for.

I try to avoid measuring my own intelligence, let alone that of others, as a rule, but if it must be done, perhaps a better criterion than what-all the academic paper trail says is whether I can look myself in the eye and say I am proud for devoting my life and my love to the thing that really moves me. Over the years, I've come to thinking that the only objectively dumb people in the business are the ones who waste their time therein, who don't pay attention or take direction, who don't try to learn something (about themselves, about others, about the world) while they're there. These are the ones who have a tendency to embarrass themselves and who often grow bitter and angry. They might just be better off "selling out." What Bourdain says about the kitchen being the last meritocracy stands to reason.

"What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today." - Thomas Keller

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Excellent point. It very well may be the last bastion of meritocracy. I would rather work beside a cook or bartender that has common sense and can system D their way out of anything, than someone who just graduated culinary school with honors. The wheat separates from the chaff very quickly at 8:30 Sat. night. The restaurant industry may be a f%#ked up little version of high school with it’s cliques, practical jokes, and prejudices, but when it’s go time, women, men, gay, straight, black, white, brown, and purple form a cohesive unit and get it done with grace, and precision.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I dont know if it was my error in how i posted, but let me be clear. There are more than "Smart" and "Dumb" people in this world. There is no need for the large umbrella that has been created in this thread.

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Beyond the whole intelligence/common sense issue I would say that a more unfortunate and growing trend is insularity....so many people are getting into the kitchen right out of-or in some cases while still in-high school. And the only work environment they'll ever know is the kitchen, with all its eccentricities and dysfunctions. So while I seldom meet anyone in The Life who is downright stupid, I encounter many who are terribly limited.

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Beyond the whole intelligence/common sense issue I would say that a more unfortunate  and growing trend is insularity....so many people are getting into the kitchen right out of-or in some cases while still in-high school. And the only work environment they'll ever know is the kitchen, with all its eccentricities and dysfunctions. So while I seldom meet anyone in The Life who is downright stupid, I encounter many who are terribly limited.

...same can be said of a mathematician who has his face buried in a book the majority of the time... i would challenge anyone to do something, anything, for 100 hours a week 51 weeks a year, and see how well rounded they would become.

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Just like other industries, there are both smart and dumb people in the cooking business. The smart ones usually rise to the top, and the idiots don't.

By the way, I've met plenty of idiots that have University degrees and high grades, doesn't mean a thing.

And I've met some very smart people who don't even have a high school diploma because they had to leave school and work at an early age because of some shitty life circumstances...

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