A culinary school friend of mine posted this on Facebook today. It’s a survey of chefs conducted by the Food Network – ’25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.’
The first one ‘Chefs are pickier than you think’ was a relief to me! I read Thomas Keller and watch Anthony Bourdain and feel like a Faux Chef as I eat my vegetable chili and buy my boneless, skinless chicken breast. Now I love some of the typical cheffy things like foie gras, cod cheeks and truffles (and like all of the things they listed as aversions… ok, maybe not calf or chicken liver) and feel that when we slaughter an animal we should enjoy every part of it we can. But I’ve never eaten tripe or chitlins and don’t have any immediate plans to do so, aaaand yes, it’s just all in my head. I’m quite sure I would love chicken livers, but I didn’t grow up with it and for some reason I just can’t deal. OK?! There, I said it – I’m not an uber omnivore and am happy to eat vegetarian 90% of the time, which places me in a group typically loathed by chefs. Click on the Tony Bourdain link above to find one of his quotations likenening vegans to Hezbollah.
I have tremendous respect for Bourdain and think he is a hoot, but I’m hoping that condemnation of the veggie-focused will change. Anyone can throw a steak on a grill; vegetables require skill, and love. So I think chefs will increasingly pride themselves on handling them… it’s also ecologically responsible. And have you looked at our waistlines lately? Swapping in a veggie burger every now and then would benefit everyone involved. Speaking of which, I discovered some local(ish) veggie burger makers at the Charlottesville food festival yesterday. No Bull Burgers are deelishious. Check their website for restaurants that serve them and stores that sell them.
I’ve made veggie burgers a number of times and it’s a complete pain. They usually involve a lot of ingredients and several processes like cooking lentils, soaking seeds, making ill-formed, sticky patties etc. I’ve tried to develop a recipe for one for this blog and haven’t settled on one yet, so No Bull Burgers are a welcome find – they don’t have tree bark, soy lecithin and whatever mystery mayhem that goes into the frozen grocery store variety.
That is why most chefs would order something like that before a pasta or a chicken breast. I can cook a chicken breast with my hands tied behind my back… unless it’s Thomas Keller cooking a Polyface Farm chicken, or a Persian jujeh kabob, I’m not going to pay someone else $12 – $24 to do it for me. Same goes for pasta… it’s so easy to make at home! Not so with housemade sausages, cheeses or breads or braises. Those take all day and it’s great to sit in a restaurant and have someone else deliver it to the table.
The fast food news is distressing. I didn’t see fellow chefs eating much fast food. A housemate of mine made frozen french fries every night for a year, but he didn’t make stops by BK really. It’s true that aside from bread, family meal and extras that come out of the fryer, there isn’t much to eat when at work, and when you work 80 hours a week you need to figure something out. So convenience foods come into play, but fast food?! See No Bull Burgers above.
Of course any chef wants to parlay into being a celebrity and have a tv show. That’s a hell of a lot easier than running a restaurant or catering business and you’re more appreciated for it and you have nice clean, buffed fingernails. Too bad that out of hours and hours of programming and irritating ‘food personalities,’ none of those tv shows focus on all of the hard working chefs out there. Very soon they’ll be working a crazy busy Saturday night and then rolling in early the next Sunday morning for an insane Mother’s Day brunch. Leave your server 20% and every now and then, send a pitcher of beer back to the kitchen ; ) I may be Faux Chef, but I can spot the glaring omission in the Food Network survey. That universal chef food group, the end of shift adult beverage they’ve worked so hard for.