Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kitchen Confidential #3

In the section The Third Course, Bourdain experiences life in several different restaurants.  There are a few commonalities amongst them.  What are the things that these restaurants had in common (discuss two)?

The first section of Dessert, called A Day in the Life, is Bourdain's very honest (some would say raw) description of what he daily life is like as the chef of a restaurant.  What tasks or events sound enjoyable or interesting to you?  What parts of a chef's life sound less than appealing?

The chapters Sous Chef and The Level of some ways, the special "vocabulary" of the kitchen that Bourdain describes, as well as the character portrait of his sous chef, Steven, have their analogs in our own kitchen.  Either describe some of the vocabulary that has evolved in our own kitchen (keep it PG!) or write a character portrait of one of the sous chefs in our own kitchen (keep it nice...well, nice enough).


  1. One of the commonalities these restaurants had was the shenanigans that took place. Whether it be banter, tomfoolery, or pranks, there was always something less-than-professional going on to liven up the restaurant. Another commonality is the long and intensive work hours. Throughout several of his experiences at different restaurants, Bourdain frequently does hard work for long hours. However, the intense working conditions were made worth it by Bourdain's passion as well as the presence of his colleagues in the kitchen with him.
    One thing about his life as a chef that I find appealing is the trust that he has in his workers. They have a good working relationship and you can see it in how he writes about their work and character. Something that I don't find appealing is how much he has to think about and manage-it seems overwhelming to keep track of so many different things.
    In our month together as a cooking class, we've developed a myriad of different terms and inside jokes that only someone that was part of it would understand. The first is the dreaded over-stirrer. An over-stirrer is a heathen that enjoys stirring the food to a point of molestation. Such over-stirrers, myself included, are profane heathens that must be controlled before they ruin any food. Another inside joke is the towel-snapping. Only someone who has faced the pain of a towel being snapped at them by Ramon or Kwabena understands the power of a wet towel.

  2. A couple commonalities Bourdain encountered throughout his experiences were the eccentric personalities and the grueling work hours. Some of the peculiar characters consist of "Ken the Veteran" and "Morgan the part-time underwear model." Each kitchen Bourdain worked in always comprised of unusual or unfashionable people. The other commonality, long hours, was driven by his passion to cook, but also the demand for his need to be a hand in the kitchen.
    Becoming a chef seems quite appealing in some aspects, but terrifying in others.
    Meeting all these strange, yet intriguing personalities seems enjoyable. It appears as though when you're a chef you get to see the world in the confines of your kitchen. On the other hand being a chef is extremely stressful and intense. An example of the strenuous tasks of a chef are embodied in these sentence "Twelve noon and already customers are pouring in. I get a quick kick in the crotch right away: an order for porc mignon, two boundins, a liver and a pheasant all on one table." This agonizing work takes incredible patience to remain sane. Personally, I'm an intense individual and I feel as though I would possibly get lost in my work and lose control if I was to become a chef.
    Well there are several terms which we have regularly used throughout the month. Some terms are "Scrub", "A Jefferson", and yelling Thomas anytime anything goes wrong (but Thomas never does any wrong so it's an unnecessary action). The towel snappers have been vicious creatures and we should build a wall around the kitchen to keep them out. But all jokes aside, the kitchen has uncovered a passion for listening to (super) old 2000 throwbacks and enjoying each other's company.

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  4. One commonality Bourdain experienced in some of these restaurants was working under bad owners. At Work Progress, Bourdain worked for two owners that he described as "textbook example of People Who Should Never Own a Restaurant." Also, the theater district restaurant that Bourdain worked at eventually went bankrupt due to the owners' poor decision-making and piling expenses.
    Personally, the most appealing task in Bourdain's daily life as a chef is managing the restaurant and choosing the day's specials, which would give me an opportunity to exploit my leadership and creativity. However, the part of a chef's life that I do not find appealing is the intense hours and high stress level.
    In our kitchen, a term that has evolved that I commonly use is, as Thomas mentioned, yelling "Tommy" randomly or whenever something goes wrong. And how could we ever forget our dear ex-brothers who could not tell the difference between putting a car on "Reverse" and "Drive?" That is an inside joke that we will never forget as a class.

  5. Bourdain has worked in serveral restaurants gaining experience as a chef. After reading about the different restaurants he has worked in I realized that they share several things in common. The first thing they share in common is working together to get the job done. We see this when Bourdain works at the Rainbow Room. The chefs worked at tables and divided the work that needed to be done to prepare the meals. This included slicing, and chopping different things for the meal. We also saw chefs working together when Bourdain decides to peer up with his best friend Sammy. They have to work together to get the restaurant repaired, as well as picking a menu that they thought would be good to serve. Another thing they had in common is what the chefs did when they were not working. Most of them spent their breaks going to bars, drinking and doing drugs. In the section titled A Day in The Life, I read about things that would and wound not interest me as a Chef. One thing that I would enjoy doing is preparing the meals. When Bourdain talked about reducing the gastrite (sugar and vinegar) while listening to music made me interested. It made me interested because this is something that we already do in our cooking class. This is something that made me feel clam while cooking. Another task that I would like to do is explaining the menu for the day to the rest of the chefs. I believe that I have the patience to explain the menu over again to those who did not understand it the first time I explained it. One take that I would not like to do as a chef is inventory of the meats. I feel like there are meats that I probably would not want to touch. I also think that I would get tired of counting all of the meats we have and need.
    Over the weeks we have developed our own kitchen language. Some of these things include yelling at Thomas when something falls in the kitchen or when someone makes a mistake measuring something. When someone says something really crazy Marco and I usually respond by saying who let you back in the kitchen. This came from a clip of Fmaily Guy where Peter kicks Meg out of the house and says "who let you back in the house" when she renters without permission. I can honestly say that it has been great making fun of each other's mistakes in the kitchen. This allowed use to have more fun and to bond as a cooking family.

  6. One of the similarities from restaurants that he's worked in was the crazy characters. Since the beginning of the book he's started in kitchens working with drug dealers and cokeheads. Since then he's worked his way up to another restaurant called the Rainbow Room and he has to deal with people amputating their fingers for a little extra cash. Another thing I found in common was the drugs, and I just don't get it. Again since the beginning of the book from all the businesses he's worked in, from that restaurant by the shore or Work Progress there have always been drugs in the kitchen. He explained that there are a list of drugs floating through the kitchen like cocaine, LSD, heroine and the list goes on. From a first hand experience I know that the restaurant business is very stressful and fast paced type of environment so it's beyond me why they would want to be intoxicated on the job. If they must do those things (which I think is a bad idea to start with) do it on their own time.
    When Bourdain spoke about Omar, the grade-manager, I felt like I would enjoy that position. He said that Omar was making dressing, braising and seasoning duck legs. But aside from that, I feel like he was given very specific tasks and he knocks them out. I don't want to take part in the fast pace, high stress level of the restaurant. Something that sounds less that appealing is sautéing. It sounds like a nightmare because you're above this pan and I'm also imaging high flames so it's very hot and when you saute things its a risky job because the contents in the pan can burn very easily. I feel like this would be extremely stressful and make me mess up even more.
    I think one of the most common things thats said in the kitchen is "THomas!!" or "Oh, Thomas". Because whenever he messes up in the kitchen we all make sure to point it out. And its not like we don't mess up, everyone in the kitchen, except Mrs. Tuorto, has their share of mishaps in the kitchen but it's just funny to say "THOMAS". Also as Farrad and I cook we always end up laughing about family guy and telling people "whooo let you back in kitchen?" or shouting "AFUERA!" at someone when they say something less then smart or mess up in the kitchen.

  7. Bourdain worked in several restaurants, but what most restaurants had in common were long work hours and his lifestyle. Every restaurant that Bourdain worked at consisted of hard work that lasted long into the night. Also, Bourdain seemed to do the same thing at every restaurant he worked at; he started off at the bottom, got paid very little, worked with a special kind of kitchen crew, had a manager who was weird in his own way, use a lot of profanity, work his way up, and work like a dog. These events seemed to occur in almost every restaurant he worked at.
    What interested me was the fact that Bourdain had his own station in the restaurant. I think I enjoy this because it has to do with individualism and having a sense of purpose because he plays an important role in helping the community (kitchen crew). Another thing that seemed interesting to me was that Bourdain acted as a leader in the kitchen and helped to make sure the kitchen was always on point. I also like to help make sure things are running smoothly. One of the things I didn't find appealing was how much Bourdain had to cook. Bourdain made it seem as if though every time he received an order, he had to cook it as fast as he can. I personally don't enjoy that type of cooking, I enjoy a more laid-back type of cooking where I can be comfortable while I cook.
    The two sous-chefs we mess with the most in our kitchen are Jeff and Tom. Our beloved Jefferson is the dumbest smart person you will ever meet and has all the qualities of a "scrub". He can say something really smart one minute and then say something the next minute that would make you question whether or not he really is smart. Tom is just a gentle giant who everyone loves to blame. We do this mostly because he doesn't care but his reactions are priceless. Honestly, I wouldn't have chosen anyone else to work with me in this years cooking class. Every one played a role to make it as successful and enjoyable as it was.

  8. There were several commonalities in the section The Third Course when comparing two restaurants Chef Bourdain has worked for. Something the Rainbow Room and The Big Event had in common is that in both cases, Bourdain and another chef used leftover food and made use of it in a new entree. Bourdain uses leftover steak and roast, as well as dead pasta to create Salade de Boeuf, Elaborately Aspic’d, and Pasta Salad. I have no clue what any of these dishes look like but they sound delicious. Something else the two jobs had in common would be the long and gruesome hours, but hopefully the pay would be all worth it.
    Bourdain provides us, the readers, with vivid images of what a day in the kitchen and as a chef is like. Two things pop up when I found something appealing or interesting. One being roasting bones for stock, but along with roasting these bones, I have so many questions. Like what bones are we using, where did they come from, can we use anything else to make broth with, and why am I asking so many questions? Another appealing activity that I would enjoy doing would be not pricking the skin of a boudin, just to see it explode. Bourdain says that he must “prick their skin with a cocktail fork so they don’t explode”, so I am assuming this works vice versa. One thing that I would find difficult would be choosing the specials for the day. Everyone is different with their tastebuds, so If I like something I will put it on the special. But maybe what I don’t like is what you love, then it’ll never be one of the specials. It’s a difficult choice for a chef that I would hate.
    Our Kitchen has definitely developed our very own kitchen languages, often referring to someone’s first name. The one that always comes to mind would be when someone over stirs or just messes up, we often say “Don’t be a Jeff” or “Thomas!!”. One of our inside jokes would also be the power of the towel when it becomes time to clean up the kitchen. Kwabena and I have the kitchen reputation of controlling the power of the towel and forcing it upon others.