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 Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks

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scrumptiouschef

  • Total Posts: 640
  • Joined: 10/5/2005
  • Location: austin, TX
Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 2:06 PM (permalink)
I recently worked as a stagiaire at a catering kitchen set up for the jet flyers crowding into Austin for the Formula One event. I was considering utilizing the space as a commissary for the next round of Scrumptious Chef pop ups and wanted to get the lay of the land before shelling out the dough on a rental.

My goal was to figure out what appliances worked, what didn't and see if the space was functional for some high level cooking that's the hallmark of our operation.

It was like a sad country song.

The space was decent; rugged but clean with a full range of appliances that had seen better days but were still "working."

That was the good part. The bad part was depressing to the point of agony inducing. I set up my station and began washing some vegetables. "No time for that!" The kitchen manager ran over and asked what I was doing. "I'm cleaning these vegetables so I can process them" "We don't clean 'em, we just chop 'em!"

I looked over at a stack of Sysco boxes and grimaced, trying to imagine eating eating produce that hadn't had at least a cursory bath. I finished washing the peppers and carrots and started meticulously cutting them. "What are you doing?!" "Prepping" my response. The man grabbed a pepper and started bludgeoning it like a Kodiak bear that had managed to nab a slower than average rabbit. "This is how we do it!" he hollered, flipping the tattered remains of the poor vegetable onto a pile of pasta.

I could feel my soul starting to dissolve. I've worked with hacks in plenty kitchens. Guys who might as well be chopping weeds in a tobacco patch. They typically eat microwave burritos, don't taste their food as they go and even if they do, don't know how to critique their own work so they'll improve.

I gathered up my things. "Good luck man" I offered as I walked toward the door.

My grandmother used to say "water seeks its own level" and I totally believe it. If you work with hacks it won't be long before you'll start working like a hack. Even if it's a few hours out of one day. As a cook you develop a philosophy for your food. If you aren't willing to wash a chile before you eat it, then take the time to meticulously slice it for your dish you might as well be changing tires in a Jiffy Lube.
 
If I'm going to serve chili for a crowd on a Sunday then I'll start getting ready on Wednesday. Good food takes time, energy, effort and love. If you're not putting all those things in your food then why bother being in the food industry?
 
#1
    kland01s

    • Total Posts: 2835
    • Joined: 3/14/2003
    • Location: Fox River Valley, IL
    Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 3:02 PM (permalink)
    I am kind of speechless but maybe more naive? And this manager's food is supposed to be good? Good for you to walk out and be true to your principles!
     
    #2
      lleechef

      • Total Posts: 6223
      • Joined: 3/22/2003
      • Location: Gahanna, OH
      Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 3:15 PM (permalink)
      Fortunately I always was the chef in the kitchens where I worked and did not have to deal with someone telling me to slap and bang it out but I know there are plenty of folks out there that do just that.  But I have had to correct lots of bad habits with my cooks.  They can go do that in someone else's kitchen but never in mine.
       
      #3
        mayor al

        • Total Posts: 15061
        • Joined: 8/20/2002
        • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
        • Roadfood Insider
        Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 7:15 PM (permalink)
        We can testify to the quality of Lisa's skills as a Master of her trade.
        Two seafood dishes from her kitchen during out Alaska visit a few years back.
         
         
         
        It is no wonder that M H has undergone that "MIRACLE CONVERSION"...He is eating like a KING every day !
         
        #4
          lleechef

          • Total Posts: 6223
          • Joined: 3/22/2003
          • Location: Gahanna, OH
          Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 8:12 PM (permalink)
          Thank you for the compliments, Al.  I do take cooking very seriously.  But I had not seen any "MIRACLE CONVERSION" creeping up on MH.  And yes, he does eat like a KING almost every day!  Well, for better or worse, he's much LESS of a curmudgeon than before.
           
          #5
            Poverty Pete

            • Total Posts: 2266
            • Joined: 8/16/2003
            • Location: Nashville, TN
            Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Fri, 11/16/12 11:42 PM (permalink)
            Michael needs to be reclassified, from curmudgeon to eccentric.
             
            #6
              scrumptiouschef

              • Total Posts: 640
              • Joined: 10/5/2005
              • Location: austin, TX
              Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 1:15 AM (permalink)
              I've been blessed.
               
              I've worked as a cook in a lot of different environments but I've only worked with a couple cooks, whom I would call hacks; guys who regarded food as a paycheck, little else. Most folks I've worked with lived food. Talked about it, ate it, daydreamed about it. Basically it gave shape and substance to their lives. After all, what's more important? You can't live without it so why not treat as what it is: important and life giving.
               
              When you buy a jug of dressing from Sysco, flail away at a few innocent peppers, slop everything into a bus tub and call it a day; what have you done? You've diminished the art of food.
               
              Leaving the commissary I was sad but I was also angry. I abhor cooks that don't consider the craft of the job when they walk into the kitchen. Sure, earn a living, pay your bills...that's great but there's a bigger picture here. What you create is going into people's bellies. They've TRUSTED  you. I can't think of a more sacred pact than the one between eater and feeder.
               
              In retrospect I should've grabbed the mgr and boxed his jaws for him and made him think about the path he's walking down. I take my work extremely seriously. When I see cooks act flippantly toward the people they're feeding it pisses me off.
               
              Putting the soapbox up. I'm sure I'll clamber back on it tomorrow.
              <message edited by scrumptiouschef on Sat, 11/17/12 1:16 AM>
               
              #7
                Michael Hoffman

                • Total Posts: 17815
                • Joined: 7/1/2000
                • Location: Gahanna, OH
                Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 11:51 AM (permalink)
                Poverty Pete


                Michael needs to be reclassified, from curmudgeon to eccentric.

                Nah. I've always been eccentric. But I'm still a curmudgeonly old man.
                 
                And if you guys think I eat like a king, tonight it's leftovers. Granted, it's leftover eggplant parmagiana and leftover braciole (YUM!), but it's still leftovers.
                 
                #8
                  lleechef

                  • Total Posts: 6223
                  • Joined: 3/22/2003
                  • Location: Gahanna, OH
                  Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 4:27 PM (permalink)
                  MH failed to mention that I made potato leek soup for lunch.  So the poor eccentric curmudgeon had better NOT complain about those lovely leftovers tonight!!!!!!!
                   
                  #9
                    Poverty Pete

                    • Total Posts: 2266
                    • Joined: 8/16/2003
                    • Location: Nashville, TN
                    Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 4:46 PM (permalink)
                    The king used to eat mutton chops, oysters and peacock tongues.  I think Hoffman has him beat right out of the gate.
                     
                    #10
                      lleechef

                      • Total Posts: 6223
                      • Joined: 3/22/2003
                      • Location: Gahanna, OH
                      Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 4:59 PM (permalink)
                      Poverty Pete


                      The king used to eat mutton chops, oysters and peacock tongues.  I think Hoffman has him beat right out of the gate.

                      How true!!! 

                       
                      #11
                        Michael Hoffman

                        • Total Posts: 17815
                        • Joined: 7/1/2000
                        • Location: Gahanna, OH
                        Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 5:10 PM (permalink)
                        As it happens I love peacock tongues, although I prefer the tongues of peahens, and I adore dove and pigeon tongues.
                         
                        #12
                          chewingthefat

                          • Total Posts: 6093
                          • Joined: 11/22/2007
                          • Location: Emmitsburg, Md.
                          Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 5:23 PM (permalink)
                          Some people, Chefs, simply don't know any better. maybe I should use the term, Cooks instead of Chefs. In the going on 11 years here, I have found 2 maybe 3 who cared and did my menue's EXACTLY how I want it done. Men and Women that have resumes with top notch restaurants, for long periods of time, are hopeless flops, can't do a damn thing right. When I find one I pay them real well, my lead cook, James, has been with me about 8 years, I pay him right around $65,000 a yr., he's worth it to me, he has a passion for serving up perfect as can be food from my place, don't know what I'd do without him...go back to 110 hr. work weeks like I did when I first opened, no, I don't think I could take it. It would be panic button time, but it would all work out!
                           
                          #13
                            Poverty Pete

                            • Total Posts: 2266
                            • Joined: 8/16/2003
                            • Location: Nashville, TN
                            Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sat, 11/17/12 5:47 PM (permalink)
                            I'm staying Monday night in Hagerstown., en route to Macy's How far it that from your restaurant? 
                             
                            #14
                              easydoesit

                              • Total Posts: 470
                              • Joined: 6/20/2007
                              • Location: La Crosse, WI
                              Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sun, 11/18/12 2:18 PM (permalink)
                              scrumptiouschef, what great posts you have here!  Very well told, and very well taken.  I was glad to read them, thanks!
                               
                              I've seen, so many times, some chopped up and chewed up pieces of vegetable something-or-other in a dish that were obviously done in a food processor, torn all to shreds, as opposed to the clean cutting that someone with some good knife skills could do.  And, of course, the resulting differences in texture and taste.  And presentation too.
                               
                              Some folks around here don't seem to think twice about that.  But the difference is so right there...I don't know why....
                              ...around here, I meant where I live, in Blandland, not the Roadfood folks.
                               
                              <message edited by easydoesit on Sun, 11/18/12 2:26 PM>
                               
                              #15
                                kland01s

                                • Total Posts: 2835
                                • Joined: 3/14/2003
                                • Location: Fox River Valley, IL
                                Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sun, 11/18/12 2:36 PM (permalink)
                                I agree Easy, too bad it got highjacked.
                                 
                                #16
                                  chewingthefat

                                  • Total Posts: 6093
                                  • Joined: 11/22/2007
                                  • Location: Emmitsburg, Md.
                                  Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sun, 11/18/12 5:15 PM (permalink)
                                  Poverty Pete


                                  I'm staying Monday night in Hagerstown., en route to Macy's How far it that from your restaurant? 

                                  If you take Rt. 77 to 15N, about 1/2 hr. 70E to 15N 1 hr.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    morningglory

                                    • Total Posts: 559
                                    • Joined: 2/6/2005
                                    • Location: Sacramento, CA
                                    Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Sun, 04/14/13 8:02 PM (permalink)
                                    Been off the board  for awhile..... CONGRATULATIONS Lee & Michael!
                                     
                                     
                                    #18
                                      MetroplexJim

                                      • Total Posts: 3704
                                      • Joined: 6/24/2007
                                      • Location: McKinney, TX
                                      Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Mon, 04/15/13 8:03 PM (permalink)
                                      mayor al


                                      We can testify to the quality of Lisa's skills as a Master of her trade.
                                      Two seafood dishes from her kitchen during out Alaska visit a few years back.



                                      It is no wonder that M H has undergone that "MIRACLE CONVERSION"...He is eating like a KING every day !

                                      OMG!  Those dishes remind me of my days back in D.C. living large off the taxpayers at Duke's, Mel's, & Morton's.  As today is April 15 I'd like belatedly to thank y'all for your generous subsidies.
                                       
                                      #19
                                        EdSails

                                        • Total Posts: 3558
                                        • Joined: 5/9/2003
                                        • Location: Mission Viejo, CA
                                        Re:Slap It Out Bang It Out And Call It A Day: "Cooks" That Aren't Cooks Tue, 04/16/13 1:10 AM (permalink)
                                        scrumptiouschef

                                          Good food takes time, energy, effort and love. If you're not putting all those things in your food then why bother being in the food industry?

                                         
                                        Very well said.
                                         
                                        #20
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