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.
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.
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.