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Real vs Fake Chefs


GlorifiedRice
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I'm a food-obsessed eG denizen: I like to argue :smile:. I'd still love to know if there is anything anyone can come up with that meets GlorifiedRice's original request:

"Are there any questions we can pose to him to prove he's a REAL CHEF?

like things only CHEFS know?"

I just don't think there is anything: the thing that separates a real chef from a wannabe is skills, not knowledge.

Honestly, I think after the reactions here to his statements, I now dont care about outting him cause Im now confident that hes a total fraud.

Yesterday I smoked him with my knowledge about tropical oils and home made dogfood (he literally went quiet and signed off) so its fair to say that

he has been neutralized.

So thanks Guys for the responses...

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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Im sorry, but statements like this really piss me off. Im not trying to be an ass or anything, but just because you (or anyone) read a book doesn't make you a "chef." I agree that the term has lost damn near everything it used to mean in the past, we still bust our ass for years to earn that title and respect. You read MC, have a circulator and plate dinner with tweezers just means you have an expensive hobby.

And just for future reference, just because the local restaurant supply stores don't carry sous vide equipment, doesn't mean people aren't "that state of the art." Most of use use J.B. Prince or Le Sanctuaire or other specialty online retailers.

Again, no offense. But when someone makes ridiculous statements that undermine what I do, I feel the need to say something.

- (real) Chef Johnny

I didn't claim that people who had read the MC are chefs I just claimed, based on the authoritative nature of the work, that such people probably know more than many chefs. People are right that this knowledge doesn't translate into many of the skills needed in a restaurant. I've cooked enough for myself and others to know that there is a huge gulf between a professional chef and an amateur cook.

I do assume that anyone in my vicinity that cooks with modernist techniques either purchases things online, directly from the manufacturer or in San Francisco because that's how I got my equipment. However, what the lack of the this equipment in the run of the mill restaurant supply stores tells me is that these techniques are not that common in practice, hence my claim.

Note, just because there are chefs that don't seem to see Modernist Cuisine on their radar should hardly diminish your prestige since you do seem to belong squarely in the opposite camp.

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"Are there any questions we can pose to him to prove he's a REAL CHEF?

like things only CHEFS know?"

Yup.

1) The owner wants a 10% reduction on foodcost, pronto. Give me 3 suggestions on how to lower it quickly

2) You see one of your staff walking stiff-legged and quickly out the door to the parking lot to "check up on his car". What do you do immediatly?

3) You walk into the walk-in cooler and notice it is warm. What is the first thing you check? The second? If you need to call for repairs, what information do you give out? Oh,and by the way, what does a refrigeration guy cost per hour and are there any other costs or fees involved with the visit?

Like I said, a Chef is judged by how well s/he manages the resources given to him. There are many resources, but the big 4 are: Money, time, labour, ingredients. Those who can't manage them get shown the door pretty darn fast. That's a Chef. A cook, cooks.

Am I making any sense here??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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what are the answers?

Those questions will tell you if the person knows anything about food cost and portioning, if he's observant enough to recognize someone's sneaking something out the door and if he's had to deal with refrigeration issues before... but they still won't tell you that he is or isn't a chef.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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"Are there any questions we can pose to him to prove he's a REAL CHEF?

like things only CHEFS know?"

Yup.

1) The owner wants a 10% reduction on foodcost, pronto. Give me 3 suggestions on how to lower it quickly

2) You see one of your staff walking stiff-legged and quickly out the door to the parking lot to "check up on his car". What do you do immediatly?

3) You walk into the walk-in cooler and notice it is warm. What is the first thing you check? The second? If you need to call for repairs, what information do you give out? Oh,and by the way, what does a refrigeration guy cost per hour and are there any other costs or fees involved with the visit?

Like I said, a Chef is judged by how well s/he manages the resources given to him. There are many resources, but the big 4 are: Money, time, labour, ingredients. Those who can't manage them get shown the door pretty darn fast. That's a Chef. A cook, cooks.

Am I making any sense here??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Ok. I'll guess first.

1. Scrimp on employee meal, cut scallops in half on the apps, decrease portion sizes in general

2. Get t he steaks out of his pants and fire his ass.

3. Temp and circuit breaker. Uh make and model?

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Technically, he said "those foodies who read the MC know more about food and cooking than 95% of Chefs out there." Thats where I take the offense.

That is not the same thing as being a better cook, which is what you actually seemed to take offense at. Food and cooking knowledge does not always translate into cooking skill, which is how you seemed to interpret the statement. Sculptor's statement is probably technically true, considering the depth of knowledge in MC. If you take offense at what he actually said, rather than how you interpreted what he said, then it seems to me that your ego is being bruised. Like you, I mean no offense, rather I'm just offering an opinion/observation. :)

Edited by JHeald (log)
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Ok. I'll guess first.

1. Scrimp on employee meal, cut scallops in half on the apps, decrease portion sizes in general

2. Get t he steaks out of his pants and fire his ass.

3. Temp and circuit breaker. Uh make and model?

(1) Foodcost:

Well, no. 10% is a huge reduction. Bucket scraping and cheese paring can only reduce f.c by maybe 1-2%, anything higher than that, and the Chef wasn't doing his job well in the first place. Besides, cheese paring can only go so far before there is a loss in quality and/or quantity of the menu items, and when that happens, you loose business fast.

The easiest way to immediately reduce f.c. by 10% would be to raise the menu prices accordingly.

You can lower food costs by buying in larger quantities, as everything becomes cheaper if the volume is right, but this ties up the owner's money in perishable items with a finite shelf life. It is an option though.

Some Chefs have a secret weapon to fight f.c. --the wholesale wing of thier bakery or garde manger depts. I've known a few hotels that make some very good money supplying cakes and pastries to other businesses--or salad dressings/condiments or other items. It's money coming in not dependent on a'la carte sales.

Another area would be to lean on the catering sales dept. for more sales if the establishment has one. Catering -onsite or off-site--can bring in good money as well, and is much more cost effective than regular a'la carte dining.

You can lower your some of food costs-- dairy especially, as well as some dry goods and specialty cheeses/meats-- buy buying at Costco. Worked at several hotels that did this. As much as 15% can be saved buying dairy at Costco as opposed to buying from the dairy itself or the big purveyors. This requires about 4 hours a week plus some kind of transportation. Still, it is a very viable option.

A very dramatic option would be to cut out the a'la carte and only run table d'hote menus with only 3 choices of main, two each of app or dessert. Not great, but still an option if the owner is really breathing down your neck.

At one place the bakery supplier played hardball with us and I was told to reduce the bakery invoices by as much as possible. This bakery supplied us with sandwich loaves and burger buns. I managed to get chop 3o% off, but I had to spend $2,000 to do it. What I bought was a used proofer, used pullman pans and a Taiwanese bread slicer. I dropped the production bakery completely and went to frozen proof and bake. Within a week I had trained the d/washer to pull, proof, bake, and slice the sandwich loaves, and within a month she was made lead sandwich girl. Downside to this was the added manpower, more energy to run the ovens, and more freezer space for the frozen dough--the savings offset this easily, plus we had bragging rights to " in-house fresh baked bread", as well as no minimum orders from the bakery.

(2) Employee theft

All depending on where you live, firing the dude's azz might be the right choice, or it might land you fines for wrongful termination from either the labour board or the Union rep. Here are some of the questions you might have to answer:

Q: Mr. Chef, theft is a serious crime, do you have any other witnesses--other than yourself to lend credibility to your allegations against Mr. Smith?

Q: Mr. Chef, do you have notices (in English, Spanish, an whatever else) posted at all exists of the workplace notifying employees that no goods may be taken past these points? No? Are you aware that the employee parking lot is still on the workplace premises, and since you allege that Mr. Smith did not actually enter his vehicle, how could theft possibly occur?

As I said before, I don't know the local labour laws in your area. However, both the Labour Board and Unions represent the employee for free, so it never hurts or costs money to file such wrongful termination charges. Worst case scenerio is having Smith back at work looking for an opportunity to get even. D.A.M.H.I.K.T.

(3) Refrigeration

The walk-in is a safe, a Fort Knox, alot of money time, and product tied up in there. Correct, the first thing to look at is the fuse panel, if no breaker is tripped, then you examine the coil inside the walk-in. Very frequently during summer months or in steamy kitchens with the cooler door open for long periods of time, the warm moist air sticks to the coil and freezes on. The coil become plugged with ice and the whole system shuts down. It is an easy job to defrost this.

If the first two scenerios are not the problem, then you must call the repair guy. Refrigeration guys charge--in my area--$75 an hour, plus an additional $35 truck fee, and of course extra for parts and taxes. These guys usually have a lot of stuff on their trucks, but not everything. If they don't have it on board, then they have to go back, and you get to pay all over again. Correct, you need to call in the make and model, but also a description of the problem (Compressor runs constantly but temp is +9 and rising, or a horrible squealing from the compressor, etc) If the unit is older than 5 years you need to know the type of refrigerant it uses. These gasses change all the time and the guys will only carry the most common ones from the past 3-4 years on their trucks.

The above three scenerios are typical problems a Chef faces, but everyone handles them in different ways.

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Technically, he said "those foodies who read the MC know more about food and cooking than 95% of Chefs out there." Thats where I take the offense.

That is not the same thing as being a better cook, which is what you actually seemed to take offense at. Food and cooking knowledge does not always translate into cooking skill, which is how you seemed to interpret the statement. Sculptor's statement is probably technically true, considering the depth of knowledge in MC. If you take offense at what he actually said, rather than how you interpreted what he said, then it seems to me that your ego is being bruised. Like you, I mean no offense, rather I'm just offering an opinion/observation. :)

Im not trying to continue this argument any more than need be, but I just want to make a couple things clear. My statements have nothing to do with "my ego." His comments weren't directed towards me, hence my broad statements about my industry. Im good at what I do. My skills/resume/knowledge isn't being debated. I don't think Im the one reading into what was originally said. Im taking the statement "foodies who read the MC know more about food and cooking than 95% of Chefs out there" quite literally. My profession is being thinned out with idiots that think they can learn to be a chef from reading books and searching online. (the "idiots" I speak of are these kids that are beginning to flood my inbox looking for jobs with zero qualifications, not necessarily members of this forum.) A few chefs, myself included, had this same discussion on twitter last week. Its complete nonsense and only hurts my industry.

Anyway, thats it for me on this subject.

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Like I said in previous posts, ther are no qualificatins/standards/benchmarks for cooks, and only one private society has them for Chefs.

Once standards are in place for "cooks", the b.s. will slow down enormously.

Once standards are in place......

Problem is, no one really is making any effort. Certainly not the schools, not the Unions, not the hospitality industry as a whole.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a cook. I work in a medium size kitchen and we have no Chefs. We have different levels of cooks with the Head Cook being slightly higher than First Cook. Even our Cook's helper's supervise 3 to 4 "prep" workers. If I notice that a walk-in or refrig is running warm, I call an engineer. Help me from Union wrath if I were to tinker with a thermo-coupling, or even change a light bulb. My bosses who run the dining services are administors.

The Head Cook is a jerk and really wants to be called a chef (which he is because people are suppose to report to him, or he is suppose to tell cooks what they should be doing) but all he wants to talk about is how good he was at private restaurant where he worked 10 years ago. Or before that at Steak and Shake. If he weren't such a jerk, I would call him "Chef".

But for myself, what I do is cook. I put the best food I can on our customer plates. I cook because I love to fed people. I read internet forums and one of the most heated dissuasions is "whether some one is a cook or a chef." I like our method of naming because people don't get caught up in titles but can just cook. We cook real midwest food for less than $10.00 a plate and Cater parties for sometimes a hundred dollars a plate. Is the cook a Chef because the plate costs more? And not a Chef when it cost ten dollar?

Maybe the word Chef is evolving in our culture, and now instead of the french "chief" it simply means a cook. Hopefully a good cook. And yes, Rachel Ray is a Chef.

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