June 7, 2016 1 Comment
I do not write on here as often as I’d like, but I’d rather keep silent than just spout sweet nothings onto the digital page. But this night I have something to say.
If you come to wherever I’m cooking, and proceed to tell me how you expect to see a fucking chicken mushroom pasta on the menu, as if it was the pinnacle of gastronomy, then forgive me for using my right as a Chef and professional to tell you to fuck off.
Nothing is more annoying than dealing with guests who claim to understand about food when every single syllable escaping from their unfortunate faces proves their ignorance. I tell myself that maybe their intimidated by the beard, by the TV persona, by the chef’s jacket and apron punctuated by the scars on my hands. Maybe they want to get my respect? That’s me making excuses for other people. The reality of the fact is that those selfsame people are – more often than not – vapid, selfie-stick fashionistas who wouldnt know the difference between boiled water and a cup of tea.
The only reason I like to cook is to hopefully create something new and enjoyable. To attempt to educate and recreate emotions. Like the first time I ate peanut butter, or the feeling I get when frying eggs in butter, listening to the sizzle and pop and the sweet nutty aroma of the foaming butter dances up my nose and tickles my head-brain.
I don’t want to create a menu to feed you what you can get elsewhere, but to create something you can only have when *I’m* cooking it. It’s like the difference between a cover band and the real thing: it’ll always be a fascimille of the original and can only ever aspire to be a decent copy. Last time i checked, no one was buying albums of cover bands.
This path of creation invariably leaves me open to criticism. Fine. I can take criticism, but not when its so vague and ill informed that it can’t possibly be correct. An especially offensive young lady proclaimed herself “a Fettucine expert” before complaining that she was unhappy with the flavor of her pasta because “it tasted of mushrooms and had black specks in it”. I wasnt sure how to respond: it was a mushroom pasta and we finished it with cracked black pepper. It was spot on in every metric we use in the kitchen. Yet right in front of me was a woman declaring (quite loudly, i might add) that in “all her years of eating fettucine, she’s never seen anyone make it like this.”
My mental response used very colorful language, however the words I permitted to leave my mouth were “I apologise for every horrible plate of pasta you’ve mistakenly accepted as ‘good’. What is in front of you is the product of much thought, hard work and care. If food prepared with respect isn’t to your liking, I recommend returning to the sorry excuse for an italian restaurant you’re happy with and staying there.”
Since then, I’ve been subject to a number of similar incidents. There was the gentleman who ordered duck breast then returned it because “it didn’t taste familiar”. When pressed for more details, it was revealed he had never eaten duck before. There was another gentleman who informed me that his idea of a perfect pizza was a super supreme stuffed crust pizza from pizza hut and that I should try to make a pizza like that one to satisfy his “expert” palate. Imagine my internal dialogue! In my head, I was relieving them of their vital organs, sauteeing in garlic and onion, then serving it to their stupid, misinformed and ridiculous faces.
What’s the point of even cooking, then? Why spend hours upon hours honing our craft and making an expertly reduced demi-glace when the powdered version is hailed as being the “perfect” sauce?
When a customer complains of the green crunchy things in their salad, why bother even sourcing and shelling boxes of pistachios?
Because we’re better than that. We’re better than the people only interested in the latest trendy spot opened by the trendy restaurauter. We’re trying to prepare food that has context: Freek and Pearl barley may not be as fashionable as Quinoa and Arborio rice, but they’re locally grown and carry merits of their own, beyond the shallow marketing and belabored buzzwords of the PR and social media machine.
When you come to my restaurant, please leave your pretention at the door, and bring an extra bag of consideration. The Kitchen staff and wait staff are not your temporary slaves: in this arena, we are your betters and you would do well to show us the respect we afford to you.
And to the next person who complains their well done steak is dry: please do yourself a favor and shut your pie hole: everyone is stupider for having listened to you.
Burnt to a crisp, 15 minutes