Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There's No Crying in the Kitchen!

One of my favorite movie lines comes from the 1992 film "A League of Their Own". Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, is yelling at one of the girls about how bad she is playing and during his rant she begins to cry at which point Dugan says, "Are you crying? There's no CRYING in baseball!" I have since began to apply that quote to the kitchen telling my cooks when they begin to get a bit to sensitive, "There's no CRYING in the kitchen!" Sensitive is defined by Dictionary.net as, "Having quick and acute sensibility, either to the action of external objects, or to impressions upon the mind and feelings; highly susceptible; easily and acutely affected". And for any of you may be entertaining the thought of entering the restaurant world, leave any sensitivity you may have at home. The kitchen is a brutal place for feelings. Ones feelings are typically burnt (pun intended) out of him/her early on in the career path. There are a few reasons for this. One is found in my last post. Shit head chefs have numerous means and ways of stripping young cooks of any sensitive feeling they may have. It's really just a defense mechanism. At the first sign of blood any chef will go at that sensitive soul with a vengeance. A second reason is because of the fast pace of restaurant life most of us have found that it is simply more efficient to speak in short, commanding sentences. Thirdly, the pressure has made most of us a bit grumpy. It's not that we are angry or upset but over the years of being under constant pressure to perform at top level has taken it's toll and we speak more gruff than the average person, that's all. Forth, in the heat of battle tempers rise and things are often said that have no meaning. Most of us who have been down that path for years have learned that anything said during service is best forgiven and forgotten, as it is said in the heat of the moment. In one restaurant I worked we would get our asses handed to us on a nightly basis and we would go down in flames of glory almost nightly. In response to this my fish cook and I would apologize before the rush even began for anything we were about to say. You see, it's just part of the game. Being a bit explosive and verbal is also another way we let out pressure, and to be frank, I would rather do that than bottle it up and have a stroke or heart attack. My luck they would just kick me out of the way and keeping service going while the paramedics try to revive me. "Chef, there's no DYING in the kitchen!" No, sensitive souls have no place in the kitchen. If you are one, it could be a rough ride for you and I suggest growing thick skin before entering. This is an aspect my family is slowly learning. If you recall, my wife and youngest son are making their first foray into a culture I have spent my entire life. They are slowly learning that when I speak shortly and gruffly I am not mad at them or anything of the like, but I'm just being a cook.


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