As a Chef and someone who has worked in the restaurant and catering business for 30 years I am floored at the total disconnect Americans are capable of in their daily lives.

Why did I have to walk by my partner’s screen and see this headline:

The crippling problem restaurant-goers haven’t noticed but chefs are freaking out about

First thing: Chefs don’t ‘freak out’, little girls and boys do. Persons with polarity issues do.

Secondly: read the article first, so you grasp my response in its full context and understand what it has to do with my practice of permaculture. Good soil is the foundation of good food, and the Social & Economic structures that help us avoid the bottle neck problems described in Roberto Ferdman’s article.

 

I came up hard – that’s right – in the restaurants of NYC during the 80’s right alongside the whole deal Bourdain talks about in his book Kitchen Confidential. None of that was fabricated. It happened every day in every ‘fancy’ cookerie around Manhattan – bar none. Put that in your foodie app

Gabrielle Hamilton followed up with Blood, Bones & Butter. Both books provide a vivid look at the truth.

In a kitchen of 50 men there were two women, one behind the line and me in pastry. I learned, at 21, derogatory words in 15 languages in a very famous restaurant where I did my internship. That restaurant on the 107th floor went down with the trade towers in 2001.

This is a subject for which I’ve earned my right to speak to. Burn scars and all. I’ve earned every one of my kitchen tattoos.

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The Majority of Americans are essentially star fuckers without an ounce of sense of how most real life elements come together; their food, it’s origin, what it looks like growing in the ‘wild’, how it gets to their beloved restaurants or who actually puts it on the plate. They certainly have no clue as to what social structures must be in place to avoid the bottle neck of not enough capable line, prep, garde manger, pastry personnel that it takes to run the place.

 

They’re good at making up trendy little words they can use in their hyper-in-the-know lifestyles but suck at substance. The same vacuous social crap older generations did by sending their kids to top schools or push them to do awesome ‘stuff’ so they had something to talk about at the golf course. All shine, no pith.

Foodie-Nametag

I saw the title to this article and already new every talking point that was to be made in describing this said bottle neck and it pissed me off that I was right.

 

On a visit to a friend’s house in Seattle she invited me (excitedly) to watch a Chef show as if I would somehow find myself in some idiotic made for TV reality (who’s?) show about kitchens. This was after a 12 hour shift of sweat running down the inside of my coat, no breaks worth a shit, crude jokes, team work like your life depends on it and hoping someone sees your pitcher of ice water is getting low.

 

Why was this article subject inevitable in America?

 

Four words: Free Market Liberal Capitalism

 

The other thing Americans hate is…well…reality. That’s the reason for the explosion of Chef Shows and Charles Oppman says it best in his book; Accidental Chef: An Insider’s View of Professional Cooking

“With the explosion of cooking and food shows the public has come to have a distorted view of the chef. Public opinion has been shaped by manufactured scenarios that have little to do with reality—professional chefs don’t compete in ridiculous “foodtainment” scenarios like Iron Chef America or Cupcake Challenge. They’re too busy honing their skills”

 

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Here’s the line up:

You can’t afford the people who cook your Urban Restaurant meals if they were paid a salary that afforded them a reasonable place to live in any American City. You certainly couldn’t afford the meal your taking a picture of.

 

You can’t afford to chase people (who would work for less by bunking up) back over any border with politically popular nonsensical rhetoric.

 

Students who pay top dollar to hit the CIA end up in debt and still have to sleep somewhere. Some of the best non-union kitchen personnel will Never and I mean Never, top $20 per hour and most culinary positions pay less than $15/hour.

 

You can’t afford to bust Unions and still flaunt your foodie know how at your fav place without eventual blow back.

 

Lastly, everyone in the ‘business’ knows that most restaurant owners make a razor thin profit, enough to live modestly, marry their restaurant, see their kids on graduation and pray like hell they can turn a cheap starch into something ‘wow’ for your dumb dining ass.

 

Shocking right? Then why do we do it? The sweat, long hours, busted veins, and all the rest? Because we have passion.

 

Passion for color, taste, texture, aroma, presentation; we turn the ordinary into extraordinary every day. For the pure joy of it.  We find ecstasy in the perfect cut, the exquisite fruit, the rare vegetable, the fresh herb, the essence.

our grapes

And we want to share it. That’s why.

 

But you can’t share much with a country of system illiterates that want the fantasy but not the hard work it takes to make it real.

 

So like the saying about life goes, I’ll change a few words; If you don’t get a clue, someone else will give you one and you’re not gonna like it.