Friday, 26 July 2013

I Can Cook Better Than You.

I've decided to add a segment to my blog called ChefTips.

Because it seems like a constant recurrence where I have people trying to tell me how well they can cook.

.. Or how well their partner cooks.

... Or how well their Mum cooks.

I get it ok. You think you can do what I do. But do you want to know something? You can't.

There are countless differences between my cooking environment and yours. My kitchen stove top does not have a "Save As" button ok? If I fuck up in the kitchen that's it. There's no undo, there's no: "Oh well, the guests will understand."

Guests will NEVER understand. Nor do they appreciate that I can cook a steak to medium rare, every time. Because when my guest is paying 58 dollars for that steak, do you really think they're going to be satisfied when it's not right? A simple: "Oh that's ok love, medium rare, give or take a few degrees." They may as well be saying: "Here, while you're at it take my wallet and the keys to my Mercedes E350... And I'm an understanding laid-back guy, of course you may fuck my wife."

You just sit in your cushy little household kitchen with your nine hundred dollar Kitchen Aid that you have only mustered how to whisk in and casually stress over trying to pull the garlic bread up at the same time as Donna Hay's Pasta a la Primavera without everything going stodgy and cold for your 5 other guests who will probably still accept you at least as a casual acquaintance even if it is only for a Christmas party invite - sadly my reviewers are not the same.

I'll have seven pans going, three of them bipolar and temperamental sauces, two fish in the oven, a salad to prep all while watching the kitchen hand with one eye who keeps wiping the plates clean with a tea towel without actually washing them whilst not forgetting that table 7 is half gluten free even though it's not on the docket and 34, 17 and 3 are coming up on mains all at once because front of house are cunts.

No worries mate.

But it's even different for us chefs at home. I guarantee you when I make a meal it's all: "Thanks gorgeous girl, please pass the potatoes." But you bet your ass if my boy is cooking for me I better act like he's single-handedly built the Great Wall of China, blindfolded, with nothing more than a toothpick and some intuition.


So here's ChefTip Number 1: Putting a damp tea towel or cloth under a chopping board will stop it sliding around.


This was the first thing I ever learnt in a commercial kitchen. (Directly followed by being shown that 'cunt' is a way to express fondness and admiration). How to set up a chopping board. Simple. So, so simple.

This is quite a significant point of my life as a Shit Kicker. The first ever minute I was in a kitchen, the Chef asked me to set up a board and when I pulled it onto the bench he said, "Chuck a tea towel under it - it won't slide."

Since then, I have never set up a chopping board differently. Use it, cherish it, love it. It's a fucking great tip.

You're weeeelcome.

But as far as your Mum being the best chef you know, shush, just stop it. Your Mum might be the best cook in the world for sure. Hell, my mother makes the best Kangaroo curry I have ever tasted. And my Dad? Apple torte. I can guarantee you, it can't be beaten. So I do believe you when you say your half-Lebanese mother makes the best... I don't know, falafel. Whatever, my point is, they make it for you. They make it for your brothers and sisters and family friends.

They don't make it every single night, for 55 or 105 covers, plated perfectly, cooked perfectly, over and over, repeatedly and consistently - and fast.

My Dad can't do that. Do you know WHY he can't do that?


Because he's a fucking dental surgeon, not a chef.


Julia Child once wrote: "No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing."

I like that quote. I like to think that the techniques I have repeated day in and out for however many years, mean something. I like to think that what we do, is kind of like porn. You can watch it, be fascinated by it, it will entice your intrigue and tickle your curiosity - but try it at home, it won't look or sound nearly the same or as satisfying and majority of you are sensible enough to realise that it's probably not wise to try and act it out.

You can like cooking all you want, it doesn't mean it will like you back.

And it's the little things that make us different. For example:

I can chop without looking.

I don't follow a recipe. I laugh at recipes. I look at them, study them, then laugh at them and think: "Well fuck, that's not gonna happen, I'm doing it this way."

I can pick up a piece of confit duck with my bare hands. It doesn't bother me one bit, I lost all feeling in them years ago anyway. The sensation in my index finger is left with the skin that is now attached to the grill of my first job. There it shall remain.

We don't have Band-Aids, we have masking tape.

Where my palms once were, I now have scars and calluses.

I don't have an 8 o'clock reservation for two at a delightful little wine bar with my significant other, I have a second sitting, a headache and I'm running out of leeks.

Do you see me walking up to neurosurgeon suggesting that: "Hey, I played Operation as a kid. I can do this shit too."

No. I'm not that fucking stupid.

So please. Stop trying to patronise me and my fellow industry comrades by telling me you can do what I do. You can't. And when you try, you just look like an idiot.

When you try - you do things like go on Masterchef and I laugh at you.

Really. 
Fucking. 
Hard.

41 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It is amazing the response a piece written by chefs, for regulars, gets. This could have easily been written by any chef I know. We all think the same thing and it all boils down to my simple phrase of:

      "You don't do what I do. You will never understand what we do."

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    2. My soul has been lefted.... Never a truer word has been written..!! well done

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  2. Holy shit balls that was awesome sauce

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  3. I really needed to read that. sending some love from Kentucky....now to head into work hungover, deal with a grill/saute station(because someone got arrested at the bar last night). And why do we do this day in and day out? because we are PROFESSIONALS. I might be in no shape to drive legally, but I am always in shape to pull a couple hundred covers outta my ass.

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    1. People like you, are my idols. Tough nuts like you stopped my Apprentice Whinging and got me to pull my head together. Get shit done. Happy hangover mate.

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  4. HAHAHA... fuckin "A" bubba... fuckin A right.... Nice read thanks. I think I just found Chef Richie Nakano's brother! You two are peas in a pod...

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    1. You found his sister but cheers ;)

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    2. All us chefs are brothers in a way though. Family is whatever you want it to be. I maintain Johnny Walker was my great grandfather. On no other basis than because I really fucking want him to be.

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  5. I'm not a Chef, I'm just a Mother. My Chef son says I cook 'pretty good' and, of course, I have a couple of things I do exceptionally well. My husband is also an excellent cook - thank God, because he has to do all the cooking these days. He makes beautiful cheese, bread and wine (see Chef son for referral ) and has real talent in the kitchen.

    But - our son is the Chef. My husband and I are his parents. We like cooking, but for as long as we've been doing it, we know the difference between our own experience and his 25 years at it.

    He wins, every time - and so do all of you. We've had occasion to put on a dinner for 50 - you do it all the time and every plate is different. Not at our house! The meal is the meal.. lol


    So - congratulations to all of you who have stayed the course - you have our respect, believe me. :)


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    1. Never lose the love of cooking. It is a beautiful thing. I love being a chef, but every few weeks I have friends over to mine, I throw them a chopping board and a cabbage and sit back and try not to cringe. But I love it.

      Chefs rarely cool for themselves, it's not what draws us in. We are defined as people who want to feed others, bring others together with what we do and it is a really fortunate circumstance. You have nailed the point of my entire post with saying you respect us. I respect people who love food, who love their friends and family, who love to give others a part of that.


      Your message really hit a spot with me just then, it's the people that don't respect us that frustrate me. People who believe what we do is easy. Jason Sheehan once wrote: "Being a chef is the best job in the world, if it were easy, everybody would do it."

      Thank you for the lovely words.

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    2. But as a favor to me, never utter the words "just a Mother" ever again.

      THAT'S the hardest job in the world. A big credit to you for respecting what your son does. A lot of us are broken by the fact that we are not respected. That everybody thinks they can do what we do.

      Your post has actually made my day. And my day only just started.

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  7. this is what i have been try to tell people who have been telling me that what you can do so can any one

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  8. Love the blog! Parts of this reminded me of this article, which is also pretty fucking funny!

    http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2011/05/10_reasons_you_cant_be_a_profe.php

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  9. I can finally salute Facebook properly as this is what was randomly found in the cesspool of narcissism that is the Facebook newsfeed. I was doubly excited when your voice registered as a girl. In a male dominant industry, it's a constant fight to be seen as equal even given the "woman makes the sammich because women belong in the kitchen" malarkey. You, however, have taken the bull by the horns and made all of our voices a little louder. Passion for food, passion for people and passion for greatness is the fuel that drives us. It takes us hours of prep for that one bite that will haunt us in our dreams for the rest of our lives. That, my friend, is what gets us through and makes us run back for more. I look forward to catching up on your blog and seeing what other cheeky offerings you might have. Cheers!
    Ps...I've often been asked about the one thing I could not do without in a kitchen and have yet to be able to narrow it down to just one. A towel for my board happens to be on that list ;)

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    1. In a male dominant industry, I find it do hilarious that the whole "Women belong in the kitchen" mantra, applies to every woman except a chef. Then we're told to get the fuck out haha It's ok though. I like beating the boys. The only thing quicker than my knife is my wit and tongue.

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  10. save some money on laundry and buy a roll of something like this to put under your boards http://www.amazon.com/Grip-Shelf-Drawer-Liner-Black/dp/B000KFSOFI bonus points if you can frisbee it into the silverware rack from 5+ feet away.

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  11. Love it.

    I wrote a rant like this two months ago about precisely the same thing. Only difference was that I was prompted by obnoxious 'urbanspooners' who think that their ability to fork out $25 for a meal entitles them to be treated like anthony and cleopatra. whoopdeedoo.

    On a side note, always great to see another female chef take the bull by the horns and wrestle that cunt to the ground ;)

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    1. I was scolded by a fellow apprentice for not incorporating the word "foodie" into the rant. I promised him that my next one will highlight the people who think they're Shannon Bennett just because they recreated Gary's Beef Wellington on Masterchef. Dicks.

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    2. Oh God. Don't get me started on "foodies". They wear it like a red badge of courage... without realizing that everyone in the industry looks at them with disdain.

      Don't get me wrong though. I do love it when customers actually attempt to understand food and ask questions because they are genuinely interested. These people are a joy to serve as they appreciate the amount of work that goes into making a beautiful beef jus.

      What annoys me are the checklist eaters who visit your establishment because it's the new 'hot spot'... just so they can say they've been and that they 'don't understand the hype' OR 'it was nice but i can cook the same thing for cheaper at home'.

      then why don't you? it'll save us all the trouble.

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  12. love this post. I absolutely LOATHE cooking. I'm all about instant gratification, so I eat out. A. LOT. My personal distaste of cooking also means I wholeheartedly appreciate the crap that can be putting a meal on the table for someone else. Which is why if I like a dish I always tell the waiter: "tell the chef that was FANTASTIC!"

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    1. Thanks Liv, people like you pay my electricity bill. So much adoration for you x

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  13. I could not have said it better !

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  14. Aw I wanna be just like you! I started in a commercial kitchen 3 months ago and the tea-towel under the board was my first lesson ever... I'm not sure how I ever managed to cut anything at home without the chopping board flying into the splashback :)

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    1. Keep reading for more ChefTips ;) stuff I wish people had told me when I started out, Keep it up!!

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  15. class mate!!! next time right about your mother ''influence''

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  16. This was awesome, my year in culinary school taught me that I don't want to cook for other people, but appreciate the one's who do.

    Tea towel under the cutting board was also the first thing I was told.

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  17. I found this yesterday and since have been (quite obsessively I must admit) reading the rest of your blog. My colleagues and I have had quite a few laughs. And I just wanted to say thank you. For adding so much humor and blatant honesty to our profession. From another short stacked girl fighting her way through kitchen life.

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    1. Thanks hun that means a lot. It's a nice expression of self that I can get in very little trouble for. So it works nicely for me to subside the anger tendencies.

      Stay tuned :)

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  18. As a close friend to a chef, I sympathize. As a music teacher, I empathize. Anyone who fucking took piano in college thinks they're qualified to teach lessons, direct a band, compose and arrange, or go in-studio and sing because "Oh I can't play much anymore but my voice is aging like a fine wine!" Shut up. I manage 120 kids in a classroom goofing the fuck off while trying to produce a sound people might actually like. You sit at home and play fucking chopsticks on your 1973 upright that hasn't been tuned since 1973, and then you pick up your kid and tell me you could teach what I teach.

    I feel you, sister.

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    1. I'm actually just swooning for you because you know the difference between empathize and sympathize. But it is true isn't it? This is not related to only chefs, it defers back to ANY profession that has a stem of "I can do what you do." I hate it - egotistical bastards wants to have a go then fine, come re-wire the electrical circuits in my roof so I can get proper Cable in my room. Oh what? NOW you're not Mr Handyman Electrician who knows everything about nothing?

      People like that can fuck right off.

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