do u doubt your dishes?
so a question to all those chefs, cooks etc out there......i used to work in restaurants but i went down a different path.......when i cook for big dinners sometimes i'll do something a little more upscale for everyone......alot of times i might make a mistake......well not a mistake but say i might have to substitute something or change a recipe a hair.......and it doesn't come out as perfect as i know it could be.......
so my question is-do chefs say to themselves "well it's ok but it could be better"......or do they think they have created the best dish on the planet?.......is there a force behind you to ALWAYS strive to make it better?........
people always get mad at me....yes literally mad when i say "well it could be better than that"......i always think it is because they don't have a reference point for taste......
if i have eaten the best chicken dish in the world somewhere in the hills of italy and i have a kfc chicken breast for dinner i might not be impressed......however u take someone that never ate chicken and give them a kfc breast they might have a heart attack it is so good........does that make sense to anyone?.....am i alone here?.....ryan
Just a home cook here. I tend to do the same thing. I'm fairly sure that I am much more critical of what I make than any of the people eating it. I almost hate asking them what they think of it because they always say its great while I'm trying to figure out what I could do to make it better or "right".
Be interested to hear from our pros in residence.
[quote] Am I alone here [\quote]
Ryan you will always be alone looser (:
There is a constant strive to make everything better, I call it refinement. Having been a chef now for 25 years ( 25 years 3 weeks ago) I can say that I have a hand full of dishes that are " refined" to the point that I don't see haw they can be made better, but that does not mean I stop trying. The thing I think you are missing is the "cockiness" that Chefs have. I will not ever talk about "bad dishes" at work, at work I am infallible. I think this is acutely important as a chef as every one looks to you for strength. A good chefs passion is the driving force behind any good restaurants, his standards the back bone. This past winter when I had some "down time" between my last job & start of work on the new place I was luckily enough to get "hooked up" with old school michelin star chef ( one of the first in the US). I must say it was nice to get to "work for" someone that I could consider a superior, I learned a lot. It's hard as a "established" chef to get to talk with ones pears, the long hours at work or the "competition" factor make it hard. In the city I know a lot of chef have a "hang out" were they can just chill and talk shop, I have done this from time to time. However it's not the same as working with some one day to day, the hours spent together make it so.
In a nut shell keep your "failures" to your self at work & try and find a friend in the food world so you don't feel alone.
good answer colin......i have seen many a cocky chef and uderstand the reasoning behind it.....good post....ryan
Everything Colin says is dead on. It sounds like something from Animal Planet, but it's like you don't want to show weakness. You are the alpha male (or female for you professional lady cooks out there). I have screwed up stuff when I was in charge, but I am always the first to admit it and fix it. It is also easier to get a dish just right at work than at home I find. I spend more time there, I have more room, better equipment, etc. And someone to do all my dishes is nice too, haha. Plus the repetition of doing something over and over always helps. And I always want to a do a better job for my friends and family than for some faceless consumer (sorry customers), so there is more pressure there to get it just right.
So in short, at work in one night I might put out 30 sea bass and feel each one is perfect. And for the meals I have cooked for my family, maybe only a handful of times have I felt they have been perfect. In reality they are probably equally good, just my perspective and expectations are different.
For me it's a little different.
When I was working a la carte or in clubs, 'good enough' was never good enough and everything Colin said was applicable. But in catering, you sometimes have to compromise. Event palnners f*ck up their timelines, long-winded speakers throw off your timing, unfamiliar/(crappy/non-existant) equipment/(facilities/products) turn easy off-prems into nightmares. At some point, you look over a few hundred plates and say to yourself 'they all consistantly meet or exceed expectations'. Then you stop worring and send it.
I agree with JohnnyChance that at home I'm much more critical of my work. Probably because my wife is just as good a cook as I am & I don't have a battery of 10 cooks & porters to do my evil bidding.
I'm not so sure I agree with Colin. I am always having some doubt. Oh I know that I have something good working, but either the execution is missing somehow, or the ingredients technique whatever is not quite what I want it. And I tend to wear my feeling on my sleeve. I am constantly asking others "What do you think?" Doesn't mean I change anything but I llok for input outside of myself becasue somethimes I can't see the forest from the tree's.
But like he did say, almost nothing is ever to the point that it can't be improved in one manner or other.
Home cook here and I like hearing some criticism when I know it's coming from the right people, it's incentive to get better/improve and keeps me from being complacent. Really respect all the pro chefs/cooks and what they do in a world filled with bloggers, online reviewers etc where everyone has become a critic. Can't imagine how you shut out this constant source of criticism from most people that aren't qualified to make the decision on how good your food is, with no clue on the work/time involved to make it so.
I agree that you need confidence, but I believe one of the most important qualities of a good chef is that he can immediately recognize if something is not on par with the best they can produce. It is a philosophy of mine, that not many others follow, that it's better to have a tiny menu than add something that isn't as good as the best dish you can produce. I think part of the reason for feeling that way is because in Japan there are so many places that make only one thing, but they do it very well. If I sell something to a new customer that isn't as good as everything else on the menu, they will not have a representative picture of my ability. Someone could come into my restaurant for the first time, try that dish, and leave thinking we were a 7 out of 10 rather than 10/10 because they ordered the wrong thing. I believe strongly that a restaurant is only as good as its worst dish rather than it's best dish because the customer doesn't always have the luxury of knowing what to order. I suppose a lot of people would argue that.
Some of the worst chefs I have ever met were often the cockiest. They were never willing to admit that they made a bad dish. It's easy to say one of the things that makes Joel Robuchon great is that he has confidence in what he's doing, but he has a one-of-a-kind palatte that he partially learned from other people telling him how to cook. There are A LOT of horrible chefs who think their food is great, who are unwilling to accept the fact that they made a bad dish. I think any discussion about having confidence in your food has to include a discussion about those types of people, because we're not all Robuchon, but most chefs decide at some point to listen a little less to people who doubt them as their confidence grows. If you've been a chef for any amount of time you know the type of person I'm talking about: Someone who makes the crappiest food you've ever had, refuses to listen to anyone who tells him otherwise, and tells tells everyone else to make it just like he does. The servers know it's bad when they taste it, but they can't tell the chef because he's an egomaniac, so they just tell people not to order it, but once in a while it gets ordered and sent back half eaten etc. etc. Meanwhile you've lost a potential regular customer because the chef can't take any criticism. IMHO it's more important for a chef to recognize mediocre or bad food than have almost any other skill.
I'm not saying I disagree with others who said you need to be cocky, but I think there's also another very important side to the argument.
I'll admit I have made a bad dish but not during service or in front of the staff. I also will not serve a bad dish, I'll remake it. I always say people would rather wait for good food then get bad food fast.
Ec catering is a *****, I hate it.
Bert I too have doubt some times all ways with new dishes, I just won't show it durning service & I won't serve a dish to paying people that I don't think is spot on. Don't be so hard on your self.