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Smoking and Taste for Chefs and Eaters


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You can almost get your tongue in there if you try (be careful). 

You just made me swallow my tongue. :shock:

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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In response to rhubarbz and JAZ, why do chef's smoke, the answer is simple.When one is a lowly line cook, the only breaks allowed are for smokes. If one does not wish to be the shmuck catching tags while everyone else has a break, then you smoke. I didn't smoke until I started working in restaurants, I actually raced bicycles and would have never smoked, but turning around to find myself alone on the line was enough. Have a cigar and a chat. Does this affect my perception of salt?, somewhat, but not enough that yrs of toil don't compensate. Would I play with my nose to affect my perception of taste? well I do have a nose kazoo!

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thomas keller is among the legions of chefs (and americans) who will ultimately contribute to what the world health organization predicts will be the leading cause of death by 2020, a very real, scary, and ugly fact. one finds a positive correlation between high-stress environments, like restaurant kitchens, and the amount of people who smoke. i would like to think chefs aren't people, that they would ignore the temptation to smoke since it impinges upon their ability to taste; alas, they are people, and are no different than doctors who smoke or eat unhealthily.

iml

ballast/regime

"Get yourself in trouble."

--Chuck Close

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And what about fire patrol chefs?

We smoke all the friggin time!~

Our brand?

T~n~T

Tenements~n~Taxpayers!~

Yup...we only smoke BUILDINGS.

:huh::wacko::wink::rolleyes::laugh:

*tip of the helmet to Mr Bourdain. * Saw the show last night at work...if I recall you were in a part of Brazil with lots of African influence. How long was it before your lower GI and you were on speaking terms after that?

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And in the case of smoking chefs, do they compensate too? Doesn't that contradict some of the comments made about smoking and its effects on smell/taste? How long does one need to have an impaired sense of smell before starting to compensate? And to what degree can someone do that, anyway?

I am a chef and I smoke (already feels like a 12 step meeting...)

I know from years of tasting food (both before and after the habit) what I think stuff tastes like. I compare flavour perceptions with other chefs, and lots of people, both chefs and non, eat my food and I get feedback.

Because of all of this eating, talking , tasting and comparison I feel confident that even though my taste may be duller than a non smoker, it's not so seriously out of whack that I can't make an informed decision about flavour.

I also make a concerted effort to taste 'thoroughly'. To be aware of subtle and faintly lingering flavours, instead of seasoning only in response to the first hit of salt in your mouth.

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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*tip of the helmet to Mr Bourdain. *  Saw the show last night at work...if I recall you were in a part of  Brazil with lots of African influence.  How long was it before your lower GI and you were on speaking terms after that?

Much discussion of this already on the media board. Here's a link.

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I find smoking chefs (and chefs whose palates are beginning to burn out), tend to under-season, consciously going the other way to compensate for their predisposition to go heavy with the salt and pepper. It's the nonsmokers who seem to like tossing around sea salt, pepper and sugar as an easy route to that much desired "pop".

abourdain

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*tip of the helmet to Mr Bourdain. *   Saw the show last night at work...if I recall you were in a part of  Brazil with lots of African influence.  How long was it before your lower GI and you were on speaking terms after that?

Much discussion of this already on the media board. Here's a link.

Yeeeah I know that now, but at the time, I couldnt resist including a dinner table discussion of bodily functions as part of a quick plug for the REAL unsung firehouse heros..THE COOKS. Made me feel right at home in the kitchen at my damn near century old firehouse...

Edited by nyfirepatrolchef (log)
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  • 5 months later...

Eric Ruth of the Wilmington (DE) News Journal finally reviewed AVALON in nearby West Chester, PA, one of the places that really rocked us at one of our monthly Philly-area Dangerous Dining Club dinners back in January.

For the most part, I like Ruth's reviews (you can read many of hios past reviews on the Delaware Online website listed below); he always seems to take the time to be as fair and balanced as possible, but he had a few sharp criticisms that I question, for one reason, and one reason only: he smokes. The restaurant's owners actually observed him smoking during one of his visits , and told me so.

And this has always been a serious pet peeve with me with regard to chefs, and food writers, who smoke: how can I trust their palates? A chef who smokes cannot possibly taste the same things that I, as a non-smoker, taste, and the same goes for a reviewer.

Ruth specifically points out in his review that some of the dishes he tasted lacked verve, so to speak. Smoking is proven to dull taste buds, so how good were his taste buds to begin with?

Sorry to rant, but this issue, with chefs and food writers who smoke, has always bugged me. Am I being unfair? I dont think so.

Read the review for yourself:

http://www.delawareonline.com/entertainmen...ning/index.html

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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i'm an occasional smoker, and i trust my palate. i think that the concept that smoking alters one's palate to the point where they don't know good from bad, or can't recognize the necessary subtle aspects of food or drink, is highly exaggerated.

and i'm met very few chefs who don't smoke too much, drink too much, and do too much blow, and who get enough sleep, which i think would have an effect as well.

Edited by tommy (log)
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i'm an occasional smoker, and i trust my palate.  i think that the concept that smoking alters one's palate to the point where they don't know good from bad, or can't recognize the necessary subtle aspects of food or drink, is highly exaggerated. 

and i'm met very few chefs who don't smoke too much, drink too much, and do too much blow, and who get enough sleep, which i think would have an effect as well.

Yeah, Tommy boy, but you're STUCK with the palate you have, what else CAN you trust? Unless you were to stop smoking, in which case you'd be surprised how much differently food tastes. I used to smoke, and food tastes different compared to when I smoked.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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How can you trust anyone's palate? I don't smoke. I don't like the taste or smell of tobacco smoke and I'm personally thrilled that I no longer have to endure smoke in NYC restaurants. One chef I know gave up smoking and told me that his palate was receptive to a whole new range of tastes, but does that prove his palate before he gave up smoking was not superior to mine, or that his current sensitivity to flavors is better than some other chef or critic who smokes? Would the horse with the lightest jockey always win the race? Don't bet on it. I'll agree that the reviewer in question is operating under a handicap, assuming I knew for sure that the reviewer smoked. I can't open that link by the way.

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.

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How can you trust anyone's palate? I don't smoke. I don't like the taste or smell of tobacco smoke and I'm personally thrilled that I no longer have to endure smoke in NYC restaurants. One chef I know gave up smoking and told me that his palate was receptive to a whole new range of tastes, but does that prove his palate before he gave up smoking was not superior to mine, or that his current sensitivity to flavors is better than some other chef or critic who smokes? Would the horse with the lightest jockey always win the race? Don't bet on it. I'll agree that the reviewer in question is operating under a handicap, assuming I knew for sure that the reviewer smoked. I can't open that link by the way.

You have a point, but my experience was like that of your chef friend; my palate was aware of many more flavor nuances after I quit smoking.

And if the link doesnt work; simply got to www.delawareonline.com, click on "Entertainment" and then "Dining"

Edited by Rich Pawlak (log)

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Food critics are a whole lot more than a surrogate set of taste buds. For that matter, they're more than their last meal. I guess it's probably important to know whether a critic smokes, but don't you want to know quite a bit about their biases and blind spots, their quirky preferences and rabid animosities, when you are reading a review and deciding whether you should take a chance on a place?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Rich -

The quitting smoking and have a whole new sense of taste -- Isn't that great?!

Trying as hard as I can understand and explore wine (a life long dedication) and reading another's posted TNs are difficult. Althought it may spark my curiosity and interest, I don't trust anyone's palate, and not even mine! Which is entirely why I've lurked on WS forums for almost 1 1/2 years and have never posted a single TN. I've often read notes on a particular wine and thought 'Really?!' too often to count.

Palates are tricky.

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You have a point, but my experience was like that of your chef friend; my palate was aware of many more flavor nuances after I quit smoking.

how do you reconcile bux's other comments about his chef friend and his abilities as a chef with your initial comment:

how can I trust their palates? A chef who smokes cannot possibly taste the same things that I, as a non-smoker, taste, and the same goes for a reviewer.

i'd go as far as to say that i taste better than you do. prove that i don't. :wink:

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You have a point, but my experience was like that of your chef friend; my palate was aware of many more flavor nuances after I quit smoking.

And if the link doesnt work; simply got to www.delawareonline.com, click on "Entertainment" and then "Dining"

I read the review, and I've fixed your link. I've no doubt Eric Ruth's palate would improve if he quit smoking, but I can't prove it. Of course there's a difference between arguing that someone is not a fit reviewer because they smoke and willing to bet they'd be a better reviewer if they quit smoking--assuming they didn't start to beat their wife of something as a result.

As for the review, it's quite a positive one. There's rarely a restaurant where every dish is equally appealing or as successful to my tastebuds. It's one reason why a reviewer needs to make several trips and one reason why none of us should write off a restaurants food, or rave too much about a place on the basis of one dish. If Mr. Ruth had managed to praise the higgle spiced dishes and found the subtle ones lacking, I'd be more likely to suspect a deadened palate, but his appreciation as judged by his descriptions, seemed to be all over the menu and his criticisms seem tempered. The fact that you noted that you generally liked his reviews leads me to suspect it's a matter of tricky palates, as Beans says. There are other reasonable explanations. It may be that you have more or less knowledge of the food at this restaurant than at others he's reviewed and therefor you are less tolerant of his opinions. The nature of taste is such that personal reactions are likely to differ even between knowledgeable diners. Finally, I would not discount a possibility that you have come to love the food so much, that you are subconsciously able to overlook a flaw. Human nature is that way. It's even possible that he loves the food so much that he becomes hypercritical without realizing he's being unfair. None of this really had that much to do with the subject of smoking unless we can determine that the dishes he dismisses are ones with flavors most obscure to a smoker's palate. Got connections for a government grant? It could be an interesting study.

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.

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You have a point, but my experience was like that of your chef friend; my palate was aware of many more flavor nuances after I quit smoking.

how do you reconcile bux's other comments about his chef friend and his abilities as a chef with your initial comment:

how can I trust their palates? A chef who smokes cannot possibly taste the same things that I, as a non-smoker, taste, and the same goes for a reviewer.

i'd go as far as to say that i taste better than you do. prove that i don't. :wink:

This is not a matter of trust per se, but rather comparative abilities to TASTE things as they are. Chefs and food critics who smoke simply canno6t be tasting all of the flavors available. And quirks aside, technique can produce some fine food, but I know that I might be getting less than I could be getting had the chef not smoked.

And Tommy check your grammar; either that, or you are dyslexic.

Edited by Rich Pawlak (log)

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I've worked with chefs who smoked and drank way too much, and were definitely heavy handed on the salt, among other seasonings.

But, in my beleif a truly good chef doesn't rely only on their taste alone - especialy when trying a new dish. They offer samples to others, accept feedback and adjust accordingly.

Smoking has got to add some detriment to the refinement of both chefs' and food critics' sense of taste, but I think it's a fairly insignificant part of their overall capabilities.

Yes, things should taste good, but taste can be a pretty subjective factor in the general population, which is highly affected by many factors - ethnic background, regional bias, even one's own biochemistry.

I'd be more concerned about the food critics' sense of fairness and objectivity. And about the chefs' creativity and consistency.

Happy tasting! :smile:

Edited by NHCountryGirl (log)
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I don't trust chefs and critics that don't smoke. They probably drink too much coffee, which probably destroys their palates. :wink:

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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Trying as hard as I can understand and explore wine (a life long dedication) and reading another's posted TNs are difficult.

What does "TN" stand for?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I quit smoking 12 years ago. The food I prepare has changed significantly since then. Before, it was pretty Olive Garden. Now, I can taste the subtle differences in different varieties of tomatoes. What a pleasure to do that now. The palate definitely changes and IMPROVES when a person no longer dulls it with tobacco smoke.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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