Monday, December 10, 2007
This last Saturday I cut the crap out of my right middle finger while using a mandolin to slice some potatoes. Rookie move!! Rookie move!! I haven't cut myself significantly on a mandolin in about 10 years. It took wrapping ten or so Band-Aids around it to get it to stop bleeding and could have used a stitch or three but once the bleeding stopped I didn't see a need for it. Cooks are proud of their scars that come from cuts and burns. I have about 30 scars that come from cuts, a missing thumb tip, and a scar or two from really bad burns that left my hand wrinkly around the area that was burned. Our hands and arms are not pretty. Even the women who venture into the kitchen professionally get pretty beat up and they are just as proud of their scars as anyone. I know one chef who has a scar that required 150 plus stitches on the outside and I believe 50 or so on the inside of the arm after he fell while down some stairs while carrying a stack of plates. You think he's proud of that scar? You bet your sweet bottom he is. I used to work with an old school Frenchman who ran the fish station in a restaurant I was chef who would catarize his cuts right on the flat top as he was working. That's a bit more hard core than I could ever get. We would be cooking along in the midst of the rush when I would here, "merde!!" then out of the corner of my eye see him turn around, put his thumb or whatever on the flat top, sear said cut and keep going. There are times when I'll notice myself bleeding or see a new burn blister and not be sure where it came from, but that Pierre was way to manly for me. One of the hardest lessons for young cooks is to learn how to use their knives without cutting themselves every 10 minuets. I had one young cook who had all ten of his fingers with Band-Aids on them. I was surprised he could still hold a knife. At first they cry and whine about their cuts and burns, spending time with their poor little fingers in a bowl of cold water after they burn them to take away the sting, all the while the older cooks making pop shots at him about needing to toughen up. Oh, but what a glorious day when he can show his first scar when everyone is comparing theirs. First aid is a vital skill any chef needs. Take him to the clinic to get stitches? Well, we got the bleeding stopped, sort of, and he seems to have gotten over the shock. He'll be fine, besides, we are way to busy to go missing a cook for a couple hours. Buck up buddy and welcome to the club.