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The Rise of Egotarian Cuisine
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Chuckles's Avatar
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    The Rise of Egotarian Cuisine

    Check out this article from GQ. It's a great take on the impact of young chef's practicing 'modern cooking'. Really good read. Here's a taste but follow the link for the whole article.

    Something has gone wrong in our restaurant kitchens lately. Suddenly, a new breed of chefs seem to have decided that they should be cooking not for your pleasure but for their own. In this competitive, male-dominated school of cooking, the dishes that customers are served may be highly inventive and intelligent, but as Alan Richman notes, too often they are more self-indulgent than inspired. The result? Restaurants where the only person who needs to be pleased is never you, just the Something has gone wrong in our restaurant kitchens lately. Suddenly, a new breed of chefs seem to have decided that they should be cooking not for your pleasure but for their own. In this competitive, male-dominated school of cooking, the dishes that customers are served may be highly inventive and intelligent, but as Alan Richman notes, too often they are more self-indulgent than inspired. The result? Restaurants where the only person who needs to be pleased is never you, just the chef.


    http://www.gq.com/life/food/201403/a...?currentPage=1
    'The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.' -Henry Ford

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    Great read. There is a happy medium where old and new can coexist. But right now. Egos are deffinitly too big and getting the best of a select few.

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    First off, is anyone else sick and tired of this gender obsession in food media? It's getting ridiculous. I have nothing against working with female cooks or for female Chefs, but one of the things that's attractive about working in a kitchen is that it's all about performance. If you can do the job and have the results to show for it, that's what matters - not your education, your background, or how you look or talk. There's this weird push in media that we somehow NEED more women in professional kitchens. Why? And 90% of the time, these people supporting this agenda don't work in kitchens and most likely have never spent any serious time doing so.

    That aside, there were a lot of good points in the article. It's crazy just how many restaurants seem concerned with (for lack of a better phrase) putting their d--- on a plate. The attitude doesn't just affect diners but also trickles down into the attitude of the staff and how they treat people in general. A lot of folks seem to lose sight of the fact that this is the hospitality business. I do this to make people happy and give them an enjoyable experience. Not to show off with the prettiest plate-ups or just how locally all of their product is sourced. As a young cook I want to work in kitchens that push and excite me, but I don't ever want to work in a restaurant that acts like people should be grateful that they get to eat there - it should be the other way around.

    I recently staged at a restaurant where the staff (and Chef) loudly complained about things like a 10 top at 8 o'clock. Or when a table asked for substitutions, the remarked that they should go eat at another, less fancy restaurant down the street serving the same type of cuisine. They also all used horrible, dull house knives that they constantly ran through the dish machine (which I never saw even when I worked in chain restaurants)... but that's another story. I spent a few days checking things out there and they never did over 40 covers. When I first interviewed with the Chef, he made a remark about how their town was 'actually lucky to have a restaurant like [theirs]'. What?! It was one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had.

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    That was a interesting article, thanks for sharing.

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    Ego's galore. It is not about cooking anymore. It is about ego's. Sad thing happening these days.

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    Senior Member Namaxy's Avatar
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    Completely true Juxtaposition: Late 70's on a trip to NYC my grandfather takes our family to Lutece. My sister is only 7. Without any fanfare they bring her a slice of onion tart...only without onions....just bacon and a little cheese. Then spaetzle with butter for the main course. No issues.

    Fast forward to today. My wife and I take our 10 and 8 year old to a tiny restaurant in Lenox which bills itself as a 'creative American Pasta Bar'. Three of us order from the menu. For my 8 year old I ask the server to pick whatever pasta is convenient, and bring it with just olive oil or butter. Response was...'I'm sorry, Chef doesn't accept alterations.'

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    I was really expecting more discussion on this hot topic..

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    Senior Member Chuckles's Avatar
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    The article talks about the types of restaurants often popping up and closing quickly. This is because they are not run like businesses. If the chef is a brash egotist then there needs to be a strong personality that can advocate for the guest. Chefs also need someone that they trust that feels comfortable telling them when they have gone too far. Editing is crucial to all creative endeavors. When a self confident creative person is surrounded by intimidated enablers in an environment where there are no creative boundaries or limits the focus and clarity of ideas is easily diffused. More important than an aptitude for inventive cuisine is an ability to build a team. A chef needs people with talent to execute the menu and at least one person with the strength to say 'stop being an a$$hole and make the fu@&ing buttered noodles for the kid.' If no one is allowed to speak truth to power you are not a chef, you are Caligula.
    'The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.' -Henry Ford

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    Senior Member eshua's Avatar
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    One of my favorite spots has a menu that reads: "Any modifications will be polity refused."

    Its a tiny line, two guys put out plates for 40 seats, the ticket times and quality are better for it.

    Most places can't get away with it, but it's not ego. Its not "I know better".

    60%+ of my tickets have special requests, and we do a significantly worse job like that. That's not to say there are not lots of drunken narcissist around. Just better examples of our work.

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    Senior Member marc4pt0's Avatar
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    I think it's funny that, albeit a very real/true topic, this piece was written in the same fashion he was lamenting about. I 100% agree with what he is saying, but this new un-edited style doesn't just stop here in the food world, it's everywhere. Especially in this author's fluidless speed bump riddled commentary. The irony, for me, was just too hard to resist mentioning.

    When I took on my current position it meant that I would be leaving the county to return to the city. I recall one of my concerns being that I wasn't even remotely close to being hip enough to be a chef in the city these days. I'm like the antithesis to this in fact. It still makes me chuckle when I think about it, and the reality is even more humorous in that I find myself wanting to be one of the hip sometimes. I will actually catch myself in the middle of planning a dish or dishes that are too trendy, designed (subconsciously) to impress other chef's when they come by. That's when I pinch myself to remind me that other chefs do not, will not pay the bills. Their support is always welcomed, but it's the 1000's of guests in general that I need to like me, not the hand full of fellow professional cooks. So I will serve buttered pasta, always.
    I will always explore foods through creativity as well, but not in this selfish "I thought of this, not you, therefore I am obviously deeper in my own tattooed angst then you" mentality. (I have absolutely nothing against tattoos, just to be clear)

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