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Doug Psaltis


robert40
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i think that everyone here is taking this book way to seriously. again it is just doug's accounts of his cooking career. also let us not forget it is about free press as well. as for all this hand slapping nonsense if you work in the food industry these things sometimes happen we all know that. so lets not pretend that we are outraged at it.

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I don't know Doug Psaltis but I've met Thomasa Keller enough times to know not only the type of restaurant he commands but the respect he has for food. I first met him as I was on the short list for the GM position at Per Se ( I didn't get the job). It was mid morning in his hotel suite and he was impeccably dressed, groomed and spoken. Fast forward to Per Se as I was invited into the kitchen from my dining table (and given a tour) on the eve of his published NYT review, it was the most immaculately clean space I have seen in my 30 years in the restaurant business. This work ethic comes from only one place...the top...Chef Keller. Surprised would be an understatement if TFL was any different.

But what baffles me is why a chef would even break the code of silence and brotherhood that exists among line cooks and chefs..it could only result in a future of schucking oysters once again..in Montauk!

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I don't know Doug Psaltis but I've met Thomasa Keller enough times to know not only the type of restaurant he commands but the respect he has for food. Fast forward to Per Se as I was invited into the kitchen from my dining table (and given a tour) on the eve of his published NYT review, it was the most immaculately clean space I have seen in my 30 years in the restaurant business. This work ethic comes from only one place...the top...Chef Keller. Surprised would be an understatement if TFL was any different.

But what baffles me is why a chef would even break the code of silence and brotherhood that exists among line cooks and chefs..it could only result in a future of schucking oysters once again..in Montauk!

Does your house remain as clean and organized as it is when you are expecting guests - or do you do "a little" extra cleaning - maybe put on some clean clothes and brush your hair?

Have any places where things are shoved in drawers, closets, attics just to keep them out of sight? What's it look like under your kitchen sink?

When conducting a tour of your home, is it safe to say that - given enough time and freedom to examine the place more closely - that maybe it's not quite as immaculate as it appears?

Do you tend to take extra care of things when they are brand new and slack off with time, especially if something else brand new commands your attention?

Bought your wife/girlfriend any flowers lately?

Think there are people and places these things don't apply to?

There are some who would prefer, even seek out, a future shucking oysters in Montauk.

Even some who would place such a thing in a category equal to that of being indentured

to "the brotherhood", or dimiss the real value of belonging to the "the brotherhood" beyond that of monetary gain, critical acclaim and being remembered after you're dead... by strangers.

Or possibly strength in numbers.

"Codes and manuals tend to create patterned behavior and patterned behavior tends to go unquestioned."

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Surely, Pan, if we hold that Doug Psaltis is not obliged to defend the veracity of a published book, then it seems overly demanding that anyone posting here should have to support their comments either.

If you could find anyplace where I testified as to Psaltis' veracity or lack of need to defend same, perhaps you'd have an argument with me on that. However, not having witnessed anything in his book or read his book, I have no opinion on the truth or falsehood of his assertions.

What I do have a clear opinion on is that if a person has the audacity to directly accuse someone in writing of, in effect, lying, s/he had better be able to directly substantiate the basis for that accusation. And note that I say that without having a personal opinion about whether Psaltis is or is not being truthful. I respect people who have been calling upon things they personally witnessed and marshalling other pieces of evidence to argue on both sides of that debate.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There's been plenty of wagon circling alright, but it didn't start with the 'culinary establishment'. The wagons began to circle right here on eGullet, by its very own establishment, and it's still going on today.

Just pointing out the obvious.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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The Psaltis fiasco proves that there is a ton of dirt in the world of Haute Cuisine that has yet to be exposed. And he has just exposed a tiny smidgeon of what's out there. There are a lot of illusions regarding top chefs. That perpetual image of control and perfectionism will come back to haunt them in the end. For them to pretend they can be everywhere at once and in full control at all times is ridiculous.

I hope Keller comes out and says, "You know, my walk-in might have been disorganized. It happens. I can't be everywhere at once. Doug was a good cook. It didn’t work out here at The Laundry, but I wish him all the best." Even if he wants to skin the guy like a rabbit, that's the answer he should give.

If I could read that, I would start saving up for a meal at TFL right now just to get the chance to shake that man’s hand. Forget the tour of the kitchen.

And really, a lot of these details are petty. The fact that Keller has a spotless walk-in -- or not -- doesn't make me want to visit his restaurant any more or less. And Psaltis does say a ton of nice things about Keller's approach to restaurants. Until you people started harping about the bloody fridge and the slap, I thought his memories were in line with that of any upscale chef.

None of them walk away raving. Compared to a lot of bitter chefs I know, he’s unloading a minimal amount of shit.

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There's been plenty of wagon circling alright, but it didn't start with the 'culinary establishment'.  The wagons began to circle right here on eGullet, by its very own establishment, and it's still going on today.

Just pointing out the obvious.

Pim, if you have a point to make about how the "eGullet establishment circled the wagons" with regard to Doug Psaltis, his book, or this topic, please cite examples. If you are trying to make some larger point, the place to do it is eG Forums and Society Questions and Comments.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I hope Keller comes out and says, "You know, my walk-in might have been disorganized. It happens. I can't be everywhere at once. Doug was a good cook. It didn’t work out here at The Laundry, but I wish him all the best." Even if he wants to skin the guy like a rabbit, that's the answer he should give.

I get the impression that Keller is going to keep his mouth shut about the whole thing. Which is probably the most sensible thing to do for a number of reasons.

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I made my statement based on the conclusion I jumped to immediately, that "Peter" is Dan Barber. I guess it's my bad. Psaltis has never said, to my knowledge, that Peter/Dan are one and the same. Perhaps other facts were changed, to protect whatever else needed protecting.

I said that he said some lousy thing about Thomas Keller. He did. I don't care if they're true or not.

Biting the hand that feeds, or fed, you is not a smart move. And being offered jobs doesn't mean anything. Doing them, doing them well, does.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Just so I’m clear on the story, this book is the memoirs of a 31 year old line cook and sous chef who has worked in a number of very well respected kitchens and left most of them either under unclear circumstances or was asked to leave. Right?

He himself contributes to this thread that he assaulted a co-worker and that he has some issues with his temper. In the book he makes a number of claims about the kitchens in which he has been employed and neglects to mention any part of the story where he may have been in the wrong.

The French Laundry comments about the walk-in for example are most puzzling since if he were employed as Thomas Keller’s right hand man and Chef Keller were in NY opening Per Se, then wouldn’t the cleanliness and organization of the walk-in be his responsibility? I’ve been in the French Laundry kitchen on several occasions; it’s always been spotless. I suspect a fair portion of the restaurants patrons visit the kitchen when they are there for a meal. Those who don’t tour the kitchen almost certainly observe the kitchen from one of the many windows that look in from the courtyard. As best I can tell, the kitchen is ALWAYS expecting guests.

Now what I don’t understand about the book is how a cook who has never run a restaurant gets his ‘life story’ published? He went down in flames at Mix, he left the French Laundry under questionable circumstances, and he clearly didn’t play well with others at Blue Hill. What’s the deal? Just because he has something provocative to say doesn’t merit publishing a book without doing the appropriate fact checking. Either he’s got astonishingly bad luck or he’s had a hand in at least some of the impressive failures he’s suffered as a cook. Mimi Sheraton posed a very interesting question earlier in this thread - who will Psaltis blame if Country fails? Maybe he’ll write another book about it.

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I hope Keller comes out and says, "You know, my walk-in might have been disorganized. It happens. I can't be everywhere at once. Doug was a good cook. It didn’t work out here at The Laundry, but I wish him all the best." Even if he wants to skin the guy like a rabbit, that's the answer he should give.

If I could read that, I would start saving up for a meal at TFL right now just to get the chance to shake that man’s hand. Forget the tour of the kitchen.

So you'd rather eat at a honest cook's restaurant with a dirty walk-in (and what this entails from the point of view of his philosophy) than a (let's for a minute pretend you're right about it) not-so-honest cook with a spotless walk-in (and what this entails philosophy-wise). That's an interesting stance.

Me, on the other hand, I mostly care about the food. And Chef Keller has a well documented reputation on this matter. He's got absolutely nothing to prove, and he lets his food talk, which is I think the reason you won't hear him comment on any of this nonsense.

Mr. Psaltis, on the other hand, has a lot of work ahead of him before he can let his reputation and his food talk for him. I hope Country is the vehicle for him to do so.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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There's been plenty of wagon circling alright, but it didn't start with the 'culinary establishment'.  The wagons began to circle right here on eGullet, by its very own establishment, and it's still going on today.

Just pointing out the obvious.

Pim, if you have a point to make about how the "eGullet establishment circled the wagons" with regard to Doug Psaltis, his book, or this topic, please cite examples. If you are trying to make some larger point, the place to do it is eG Forums and Society Questions and Comments.

My point is to address the line that most of the defenders of the book are taking, that the 'culinary establishment' are circling the wagons to protect one of their own. I didn't deny that nothing like that was going on, I merely pointed out that it was happening on both sides.

I am bemused by the people over here who point their collective finger at the circle of wagons going on over there while somehow, inexplicably, fail to see the pink elephant sitting right smack in the middle of this very one.

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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Pim's use of metaphor made me think of the old National Hockey League games when just prior to the dropping of the puck, the buzzer sounded and both teams formed a circle at each end, with one team skating clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. Here, it's the Psaltis's versus the Kellers. Nothing more and nothing less as far as wagon circling is concerned.

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Does your house remain as clean and organized as it is when you are expecting guests - or do you do "a little" extra cleaning - maybe put on some clean clothes and brush your hair?

Have any places where things are shoved in drawers, closets, attics just to keep them out of sight? What's it look like under your kitchen sink?

When conducting a tour of your home, is it safe to say that - given enough time and freedom to examine the place more closely - that maybe it's not quite as immaculate as it appears?

I haven't spent much time in a professional kitchen, only a one-month stage at a one-star so far. However, one thing is clearly conveyed, I think.

At this level of cooking, either your kitchen is clean or it isn't. It's a work ethic thing, a philosophy about the quality of food and respect for your patrons. You don't "clean for the guests". There's no time to do this, either cleaning is part of the logistics, or it isn't.

Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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My point is to address the line that most of the defenders of the book are taking, that the 'culinary establishment' are circling the wagons to protect one of their own.  I didn't deny that nothing like that was going on, I merely pointed out that it was happening on both sides. 

I am bemused by the people over here who point their collective finger at the circle of wagons going on over there while somehow, inexplicably, fail to see the pink elephant sitting right smack in the middle of this very one.

I think you're wildly off base here. Sure Fat Guy is defending his friend, but that in no way suggests that eGullet management are in agreement on this book. You can clearly see that in what Bux and others have posted.

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Here, it's the Psaltis's versus the Kellers.

I see the makings of a new restaurant reality show - good title too.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Here, it's the Psaltis's versus the Kellers.

or David vs Goliath

But really, the battle may be of our making, not his.

Indeed. What's all the fuss about? After all it's only a book, and as everyone here now knows autobiography is just another branch of fiction, so it's a novel really. No one was actually supposed to believe anything.

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or David vs Goliath

Or Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla

This review is particularly helpful.

Reviewer: human being

the monsters were great but the people stunk. I do not like the language of those two clowns flying the robot. I was not happy to see that man's tush. spacegodzilla should have been (toupher) and should have been able to grow back the crystals that were shot off.

Signed,

Smelly Person #16,286

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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I can’t believe this thing is still going on. Having skimmed the book now (didn’t really find it repaid a careful reading), can I make some modest proposals?

1) Doug Psaltis is undoubtedly a talented chef, though, judging by his work history, possibly not as talented as he might think he is. And he does seem to be frustrated that those with whom he has worked in the past did not share his opinion of his abilities and run things just the way he thought they should be run. Anyone who has managed talented people has probably run into this situation, and it can be very frustrating for both sides. I once hired a very good writer who insisted in their first staff meeting that the food section immediately switch to metric weights for all of our recipes. I am sure that when this person writes their memoir that my reaction will not be recounted favorably. Perhaps they were right.

2) It is only human nature that when we are recounting to ourselves our personal histories, that there is a tendency to … shall we say “elide” … certain unpleasant facts and circumstances. Writing, by and large, is a thing done alone. For beginning writers, it is sometimes hard to make the connection that this thing they do alone will soon be on very public display. And certainly not that they will be pored over like some Vatican tract. Let this be a warning.

3) I have to say that the people who have impressed me the most through this whole affair have been Psaltis himself and Keller. Psaltis because he as much as admitted in front of an angry mob that he might have omitted important information. That shows a level of character that, frankly, I didn’t find in the book. And I respect Keller’s refusal to join in the “he said/she said.” As I recall, he did say that that Psaltis was there at an extraordinarily difficult time for the restaurant and everything may not have been running exactly as he would have wished it (and also for the record, I believe Psaltis’ complaint about the walk-in was that it was disorganized when he got back from his night off, not, as has been repeated here “filthy” and certainly not as a normal state of affairs).

please resume your food fight.

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My point is to address the line that most of the defenders of the book are taking, that the 'culinary establishment' are circling the wagons to protect one of their own.  I didn't deny that nothing like that was going on, I merely pointed out that it was happening on both sides. 

I am bemused by the people over here who point their collective finger at the circle of wagons going on over there while somehow, inexplicably, fail to see the pink elephant sitting right smack in the middle of this very one.

I think you're wildly off base here. Sure Fat Guy is defending his friend, but that in no way suggests that eGullet management are in agreement on this book. You can clearly see that in what Bux and others have posted.

Circling the wagons is a defensive tactic, no? Lots of people have been challenged on this topic; the list is getting pretty long. Even Doug Psaltis's right to write a book has been questioned. But the Society has not, as far as I know, so I'm perplexed as to why there would be wagon-circling going on, or why anyone would think there was. The truth is, we're happy just to be hosting the discussion.

As for the notion that Fat Guy is defending his friend, I think that stretches the definition a bit, given that he gave the book a middling review and has called Doug, by turns, self-serving, stupid, naive, and ridiculous.

There have been a number of contrasting views expressed by staff on this topic. No one has told them them what to say, and no one will. Staff members don't give up the right to express their own opinons in culinary matters when they sign on.

That's as far off-topic as we ought to go. If this particular part of the discussion needs to be continued, let's move it elsewhere.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The Psaltis fiasco proves that there is a ton of dirt in the world of Haute Cuisine that has yet to be exposed. And he has just exposed a tiny smidgeon of what's out there. There are a lot of illusions regarding top chefs. That perpetual image of control and perfectionism will come back to haunt them in the end. For them to pretend they can be everywhere at once and in full control at all times is ridiculous.

I hope Keller comes out and says, "You know, my walk-in might have been disorganized. It happens. I can't be everywhere at once. Doug was a good cook. It didn’t work out here at The Laundry, but I wish him all the best." Even if he wants to skin the guy like a rabbit, that's the answer he should give.

If I could read that, I would start saving up for a meal at TFL right now just to get the chance to shake that man’s hand. Forget the tour of the kitchen.

And really, a lot of these details are petty. The fact that Keller has a spotless walk-in -- or not -- doesn't make me want to visit his restaurant any more or less. And Psaltis does say a ton of nice things about Keller's approach to restaurants. Until you people started harping about the bloody fridge and the slap, I thought his memories were in line with that of any upscale chef.

None of them walk away raving. Compared to a lot of bitter chefs I know, he’s unloading a minimal amount of shit.

AMEN!!!

Why don't we declare anymore mentions of "THE WALK IN" as unimaginative?

The guy said himself that it's been overblown, read Psaltis's last post and digest what he said.

Comparing it to the showroom that is probably most of Ducasses walk ins, kept that way under the threat of death by peeling almonds by beserk French Chefs and sous chefs, Kellers MAY have been a little tatty but so what???

2317/5000

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I just finished this book, and searched egullet to see if there was a discussion...WOW! It's like reading the book that nobody read, and then not seeing the movie based on same that was a blockbuster...read the book, people!

it's amazing the slap or whatever got this much attention here on egullet...there is SO much more to dislike about this contrived, whiney, legend in his own world author...I was actually grateful that I was just reading an account of his life, as opposed to being a part of all his negative views and energy....event the first chapters whcih could have made him likeable..he was judgemental and full of himself even then.

I am really glad that this guy is not my friend. I imagine that he is part of a circle of people who don't have an authentic, true bone in their body. He is a very contrived character.

Now, I might also point out that he might not be this way in real life..but someone should have warned him that he was going to appear this way in his book.

To summarize, i can't say I don't like DP, but I certainly don't like the DP in SOAC.

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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