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Swearing/cursing in professional kitchens


Chris Hennes
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I am a current CIA student that just got back from externing at one of NYC's big name restaurants.

Yes the official policy of the school is no profanity in the kitchen, in practice, however, it is far from the truth. I have been in class a heard a bevy of explitives, some of which were espoused from the very "professional" chef instructors. I have even dropped the occasional F bomb here and there in class. It just comes with the territory. If someone from administration is in the class you could hear a pin drop, but if it is only us students and our chef, it is a looser environment.

When I was on extern, some of the language in the kitchen would have made a sailor blush, and this is at a ultra high end restaurant. Never in front of guests though and never in front of people that you didn't know.

I think it all stems from the sense of camraderie in the kitchen more than anything. If a person trusts you in the kitchen, they don't need to be all prim and propper, if they don't trust you, they are going to be on their best behavior. A kitchen is like a family, and I have no problem letting a few bad words slip in front of my family.

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I am a current CIA student that just got back from externing at one of NYC's big name restaurants.

Yes the official policy of the school is no profanity in the kitchen, in practice, however, it is far from the truth. I have been in class a heard a bevy of explitives, some of which were espoused from the very "professional" chef instructors. I have even dropped the occasional F bomb here and there in class. It just comes with the territory. If someone from administration is in the class you could hear a pin drop, but if it is only us students and our chef, it is a looser environment.

When I was on extern, some of the language in the kitchen would have made a sailor blush, and this is at a ultra high end restaurant. Never in front of guests though and never in front of people that you didn't know.

I think it all stems from the sense of camraderie in the kitchen more than anything. If a person trusts you in the kitchen, they don't need to be all prim and propper, if they don't trust you, they are going to be on their best behavior. A kitchen is like a family, and I have no problem letting a few bad words slip in front of my family.

Hello CIA - oh those were the days.

I just read an interview with GOrdon Ramsay the king of profanity. He sayd he hates cussing, but that it is the nature of the industry in a kitchen. He sais he rarely hits em off at home that he can switch it off like a switch. I have to say I can too, only let em fly when I drive here in Atlanta because people drive horribly and when I am very tired which is some times, because as some of you know and you non chefs don't it ain't the food network people. Work a line non stop for 7 hours non stop and then to have to go to the restroom to come back and hit it again for another 3. I said the people are on my crew are family - it is really a tight relationship that is not describable to someone that has not done it. Brothers in Arms is the closest I can say. My line guys and gals are my family and I would do anything for them as they would do anything for me - it never happened in my executive world job - before food!

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A kitchen is like a family, and I have no problem letting a few bad words slip in front of my family.

I, on the other hand, would have to be in an extreme situation before I would swear in front of my mom or kids.

I am currently working in a Community Kitchen, housed in a church. We don't swear or curse much, at all. In fact, one of the "notes" I send to potential temp replacements or students is about "no swearing". This is quite a special environment, and rather different from almost everywhere else I've worked.

Mind you, we are not continually putting out a la carte meals for 4-9 hours. We are making a single seating of 100-140 (never know how many), in a 4 hour window, with a constantly changing "brigade" (different teams of volunteers for each shift). Easy, right? :raz:

Karen Dar Woon

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Well - when any of you guys get into a situation where you have a non stop ticket machine and the pressure to get the food out quick and it goes on for hours and hours and the pressure and the heat of the line that reaches 110+ degrees, I think you can say whatever you want. You guys can justify the whys and why nots all you want - it is still ktichen talk. SOme may not have anything spoken or heard in a ktichen - some may have tvs or music. My kitchen we laugh, talk, play and cuss. Is it ever angry - no -

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I've read this thread with some amusement, as it reminded me of a meal I had a few years ago. I was with the rest of my family (including two then-quite-young children, probably 7 and 4) in a very large overpriced diner/deli type place for breakfast. The place is cavernous - easily seats 200. We are sitting about 30 yards away from the (not "open kitchen" but also not closed-door) kitchen for a not-so-busy breakfast service. And all we can hear is a blue streak coming out of the kitchen (from one person) which is non-stop and inescapable. "Where's the f*@&ing french toast?!" "When are you going to get the g!dd#%n omelet on the plate?!" "Sh#T!!" And it doesn't end. It just goes on and on, and gets louder and more colorful. (And mind you, this is not exactly a high-pressure service - we're talking a simple, not-very-busy breakfast).

After a few minutes, I ask our server if she can maybe ask him to tone it down, as we've got young children out here. Needless to say, if she dared to ask she probably only got her head chewed off in graphic terms. And indeed it only gets worse. After another few minutes, I finally had to get up and head back to the entrance to the kitchen, and said "Look, it really doesn't bother me, but I've got a 4 year old here who's started asking me where her f*@king eggs are. Do you think you can quiet down before she learns something else?"

It finally quieted down.

I don't work in a professional kitchen. I can say as a frequent visitor that I think the increasing prevalence of open kitchens clearly makes colorful language less common during serving hours, at least. This isn't very different from my job - when I'm among co-workers whose sensitivities I know, I'll use language appropriate to their sensitivities - if I'm with clients I'll certainly watch my language.

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  • 2 weeks later...

AFA Top Chef, even I was put off by Andrew's swearing. But when someone is working in the kitchen and touches a hot pan, drops something, or screws up when plating, I don't find it offensive at all. In fact, I hardly notice it. It's when someone is just talking conversationally, as when Andrew was doing his interview, that it grates on me.

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A step furtehr would be that language as a whole has relaxed since the 70s. Lots of things have relaxed - when could you see playmates on tv in their own reality show, when could you see someone get killed on tv - things have realxed. Kids in schools can cuss you out probably 10 days you never thought of - it has just gotten to be accepted - is it right - nope - but iot is what it is.

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I have to say an occasional F-bomb, expletive, etc.... is necessary to keep people in line at points. Not to mention having been a cook for about 15 years, I have kind of taken on a somewhat surly persona, when in the company of co-workers I'll say things I would never say to my mother. Yet that is one of the many benefits of working in a kitchen....

Also, especially speaking on the point of professionalism and the idea of being a cook/ chef/ what have you, there is a time and place for everything. I honestly would never talk to my F&B Manager, or Executive Chef the way I talk with my line cooks. You got to keep it civil.

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  • 3 weeks later...
If you don't cuss how do you releive the tension?

There have been studies that show that cursing does indeed relieve tension and is a good tool in stressful environs. People will always curse and say dirty stuff in kitchens, always, it will never decline. Also people who say this is a guy thing are way off base, its a cook thing, female cooks are and will always be dirtier than the guys, IME.

Cursing can be unproffessional though and people who use curse words without thought come off sounding dumb.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Sam, you've got me chuckling about that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode in which a restaurant that Larry and friends open installs a hot-tempered chef in the open kitchen facing the dining room. When the chef first lets loose a barrage of expletives, the investors and diners all freeze; Larry, thinking quickly, starts swearing himself at the top of his lungs. And thus the context shifts, as all the investors and then the diners revel in their foul-mouthed, uninhibited dining experience.

Bwah! One of my all-time favorite episodes.

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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