Rattling the pans

 

It’s better to be called a cunt than be ignored.¹

Cover of The Chef SaysYou step on a lot of toes in a restaurant kitchen on your way to a Michelin star.

You throw a lot of pans at a lot of young, stupid heads.

You kick a lot of ignorant customers out of your restaurant, serve hand-cut chips that aren’t on the menu, and charge £25 for the privilege.

You cook a lot of memorable (even unforgettable) meals; you drop some memorable (even unforgettable) lines in newspaper interviews, and you do it all with the swagger of a 17th-century condottiere who only answers to the people putting the silver coins on the table – and not even them if your knives are sharp enough.

Watching an organized, disciplined, busy kitchen is a graceful thing, while the horror of watching a kitchen go down in full flight is more like a B-grade Hollywood bloodfest.²

All this cheffy badassery is in the service of a higher good – feeding people on time, and doing it nicely. “Chef” means “boss”, not “cook”, and in the past the serious kitchen was run on authoritarian lines. It’s like a ship at sea, like a mail plane lost in the moonless desert night, where the captain is absolute master.

It’s dirty work, exhausting and underpaid, work performed by a glamorous underclass who aren’t too bothered by a little yelling or a toque in tantrum.

At least, that’s the myth.

Why am I going to give you a menu? I made the food. Why are you picking?³

It requires a certain arrogance, no doubt, a conviction that you are right and no one else has a clue – least of all the diner.

I was going for perfection. And perfection, it turns out, is simply a lot of little things done very well.4

But the food should come first, and the money will follow.

The Chef Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom. Compiled by Nach Waxman and Matt Sartwell. From Princeton Architectural Press via Books At Manic

  1. Marco Pierre White
  2. Andrew McConnell
  3. Mario Carbone
  4. Marco Pierre White

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