Each snippet in this post is related in some way to a former sous chef, the qualities of a sous chef, or as my experience as a sous chef.
I’m working on a more personal post that talks about most of my past sous chefs in narritive form. It’s fun thinking back on all of them and what they brought to my life.
If the chef you’re working under likes to smoke pot all day, get rid of him. It ain’t easy but It can be done.
My lovely wife was filling out a shopping list this past Sunday morning and she asked me if we need (cashew and cow) milks. I was pouring coffee at the time so in my generally sarcastic tone I said “I don’t know, I’m pouring coffee and cannot see through the refrigerator door.” To that she reminded me that I know everything in my coolers at work down to the ounce and should be able to channel some of that skill for home.
My wife has been my sous chef many times.
I’ve had at least six sous chefs that have worked with/for me at more than one time and/or at more than one place. What that tells me is that I have worked in too many kitchens and that people want to work with me. Usually.
My youngest sous chef was 17 years old. I still owe him a phone call.
The sous chef that claimed my food was bad failed to remember the menu, and couldn’t make instant cous cous.
I once had a sous chef ask me about doing corn on the cob wrapped in bacon. I replied that typically wrapping things in bacon is a way to hide a lack of good cooking or good product.
Not tasting your work is either arrogant, irresponsible, or both.
I did not write She’s Got Marty Feldman Eyes.
I once had a sous chef who left without notice to do an audition for some Food Network show. He was never seen again.
As a cook and as a chef it’s important to make a personal connection to your customers. You need to meet as many you can, you need to get out of the kitchen to say hello when possible. and you need to enjoy cooking for them. Yes, there are annoying people in the world, but as a whole you need to like them, and look forward to their return. Working in the successful kitchen requires people skills.
As I write here at Kru Coffee I can hear someone complaining that she couldn’t find a parking space closer to the gym.
I like to discover jerks from my youth on Facebook who peaked in high school. Same car, same hair (or no hair), and same asshole expression.
If you give a man a fish he eats for a day. If you need to teach him to fish he’s an idiot, it’s not that hard.
I dislike fishing, but I’ll do it if I need to.
Often my sous chefs move on to become head chefs. Few have come from the other direction.
I once had a sous chef who had to be told many times not to lean back against the stove. He caught on fire once. I would have put him out but I was laughing too hard.
I once had a sous chef get arrested right before dinner service.
A good sous chef should be able to get inside of a chef’s head and know the direction he’s coming from. My cooking is Mediterranean based and I like to approach food from that angle. Not everyone can grasp that and end up suggesting taco pizza for the menu.
Be careful about getting too deeply inside my head, there are some dark corners that may cause discomfort.
I don’t want my sous chefs on salary working six-day weeks, twelve hours per day. I don’t want them exhausted and bitter. I’ve had to work under those conditions under a very bad and uncaring chef. He’ll be depicted as a bull in the fiction piece I’m working on. As in “bully.”
He also took credit for any of my ideas and creations.
If loneliness is a byproduct of your methods of success, then that’s on you. You’ll find that your success wasn’t real.
A good sous chef should take interest in all work stations. A good sous chef should be proficient in all stations.
I generally hire well, though I have made a mistake or two. Sometimes you get desperate and make a hire when the labor pool is shallow. In all, I’ve had a pretty good run with some great people. Some better than others, some more likeable, but all memorable. A rotten apple or two, but I think I’ve done quite well in my selections. To almost all of you, thank you for your help over the years, and thank you for the memories. More to come on this topic.