Thursday, October 22, 2009

Depth of Knowledge

It's very common these days to see young chefs with glowing resumes. It's typical to see: graduate high school, go to culinary school, stage in impressive high-end, preferably famous restaurants then land a job cooking and cheffing in top notch, high-end restaurants. It seems like a logical progression. Upon viewing one chef's resume I mentioned, "you've only worked in fancy restaurants?" He proudly said, "yes, nothing wrong about that." I replied, "it's about depth of knowledge", it's useful to experience different types of food-service establishments, how things are done outside the foodie world. You can't help picking up some useful tools for the future. Not everyone lands a job in New York or Chicago and understanding the preferences of a broader range of customers will pay off. Not to mention the capabilities of the available staff.

As a result young chefs tend to be inflexible in their idealistic beliefs and frown upon methods that are perceived as less than the way they've been taught. It reminds me of the saying, "young chefs know the rules, old chefs know the exceptions to the rules." These young turks may not understand the value of a diverse food-service background now but if they are still in the biz 20 years from now they will. I've tried to explain this over and over again to the noobies and they all look at me like I'm crazy.

Give me a guy who started flipping burgers, found he loved this crazy business and then worked his way up the culinary chain. He will be more open to alternative methods and products, be more tolerant and will most likely last longer in the business.

With that being said I have lost my tolerance for arrogant hot shot chefs who were born after I got my first chef's job. I actually had one start explaining to me how to cost meat portions. I was like, "you must really think I'm an idiot, do you think I'd be operating a profitable restaurant for 15 years and not know how to cost meat? Tell about me something I haven't been practicing for 35 years kid." I've also been cutting meat for 35 years, do you think he'd be open to suggestions on how to utilize more product and cut more efficiently? Hell no, he knows everything already.