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Daily Gullet Staff

Why I Cook

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I would have responded to the towel question, but since I wasn't a line cook but rather an executive chef for a longer period of time, I forgot what it was like.

Thanks for the memories, though.

Karen

Understand. I, too, was (am) an executive chef for much longer than I was a line cook. The incident with the two cooks burned the problem indelibly in my brain, though. Also, the cavalier manner with which my students have treated towels over the years has been a constant reminder. I warned them all.

Many's the time that we feasted

And many's the time that we fasted

Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted

We did have fun and no harm done

(Apologies to Bob Hope and Leo Robin)

You're welcome for the memories. :wink:

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Thanks for the kind words. I was beginning to wonder where all those who are/were line cooks went! You're the only one who has admitted to it so far. 

My days as a Line Cook have been over for some time...I'm in the corporate world of restaurants now...which is a bit easier on the head, back, knees.....etc, you get the point. I do miss the "rush" of being on the line as the printer spits out the chits and the line fills with orders. Chefs and cooks are quite a sub-culture aren't we! As much as I dismissed AB's KC as so much over the top BS, it did touch on the unique character needed to work in the fast paced environment of a busy restaurant kitchen.

I really look forward to more of your story.

Thanks Again.

The pace of my life has slowed quite a bit, too. And, yes, I, too, miss the rush one got from "the rush." It was exhilarating when one pulled it off. When the brigade, however big or small, executed perfectly in sync. Orgasmic. I am working on a piece for The Daily Gullet right now on what it was like in the kitchen. (I mention that we, chefs and line cooks, are all basically adrenaline junkies.)

About that KC thing. I am probably the only person in this forum who hasn't read it. A lot of my writing covers the same turf, I am told. (For one thing I certainly don't need anyone to tell me about life in the kitchen.) I have intentionally avoided it to this point because I don't want my vision and memories of "the life" to be tainted by someone else's. When the book on which I am currently working is finished I am sure I will give it a read, though.

Again, thanks for the kind words. More of the story is on the way.

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I am working on a piece for The Daily Gullet right now on what it was like in the kitchen. (I mention that we, chefs and line cooks, are all basically adrenaline junkies.)

I look forward to this next installment. There are not too many books/articles that portray the lifestyle of "the linecook/working chef") When I meet people and tell them that I am a chef...I think in some ways the have no clue what it means to be a Chef/Cook, or what it took to get to this point in my career. This is probably a result of the food network and the rise of the "celebrity chef". Everyone thinks that professional cooking is so glamourous. Your tales will/are shedding light on this misconception.

About that KC thing. I am probably the only person in this forum who hasn't read it. A lot of my writing covers the same turf, I am told. (For one thing I certainly don't need anyone to tell me about life in the kitchen.) I have intentionally avoided it to this point because I don't want my vision and memories of "the life" to be tainted by someone else's. When the book on which I am currently working is finished I am sure I will give it a read, though.

I won't taint your writing with anymore comments about KC, although I would say that another book that really looks at the inner world of cooking, is The Perfectionist by Rudolph Chelminski. A very important book and a great read...insightful, inspiring, funny, sad, tragic....


Lefty Ruggiero to Donnie Brasco: "Anywhere you go, all around the world, all the best cooks are men."

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I know exactly what you mean. Often, over the years, my students, when I was trying to teach them a new technique, would say things to me like :

But, my Mama used to...

or:

I saw on The Food Network where...

I would then say to them, fine, if your plans are to go to work in your Mama's kitchen or jump from your few weeks here to being a star on The Food Network, then pay attention to them and not to me. If you want to go to work in a professional kitchen then you'd better keep your eyes and ears open while you're here.

Also, I told them this is not a glamorous life and that it is harder work than they can imagine. Be prepared to work weekends and evenings while all your buddies are out enjoying themselves. Be prepared to take tons of abuse from chefs and be paid slave wages during your early years in the kitchen. Develop thick skin.

As a teacher it has always been extremely gratifying to me when somebody comes out the other end of their time with me still full of enthusiasm and desire. I know they will do well - and they usually do.

While my pieces here deal just with my early years, the book actually covers decades, opening restaurants, working the line, pain and pleasure, and teaching *all* kinds of students.

Thanks for the tip on the Chelminski.

I look forward to this next installment. There are not too many books/articles that portray the lifestyle of "the linecook/working chef") When I meet people and tell them that I am a chef...I think in some ways the have no clue what it means to be a Chef/Cook, or what it took to get to this point in my career. This is probably a result of the food network and the rise of the "celebrity chef". Everyone thinks that professional cooking is so glamourous. Your tales will/are shedding light on this misconception.

I won't taint your writing with anymore comments about KC, although I would say that another book that really looks at the inner world of cooking, is The Perfectionist by Rudolph Chelminski. A very important book and a great read...insightful, inspiring, funny, sad, tragic....


Edited by ChefCarey (log)

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Chef Carey - I almost fell out of my chair reading your crawfish roundoff. Thank you for livening up my evening. I actually felt sad reading about Sol's demise.

Thank you, DG! In a future installment we feature an episode with a crab and a drunk. :biggrin:

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