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Old School Kitchen Nostalgia (and the not so good)
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Thread: Old School Kitchen Nostalgia (and the not so good)

  1. #1

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    Old School Kitchen Nostalgia (and the not so good)

    Haven't worked as a cook professionally for a long time (3 years now) but started my first 2 years in an old school, over-worked, under-paid, over-drinked, super-high highs and super-low lows type of place. I think we've all have worked in the type of place. Everyone in the kitchen was tight as sh*t, drank together and bullsh*tted non-stop about completely inappropriate stuff by even the lowest of standards (miss it!). 2 years of a kitchen education you can't get in a high-end place.

    Now that I work in a higher-end place where its so much smarter, talented, way better attitudes and way better working conditions (hours, pay, stress!) I have to admit I so much miss the nostalgia of old school places. You know the type: 65 plus hour weeks, chicken picatta and prime rib, insanely busy holidays, exhaustion to the point of hilarity, minimum wage and rat catching, dishwashers eating scraps out of the bus bin, refrigerator doors held together with coat hangers, ridiculous kitchen politics (cold line lady banging the head chef and getting paid bank to toss salads in more ways the one and never have to do any of the dirty work amongst a million other things), house knives with strings tied around them to denote whose is whose, sysco is walmart and god put together, and the closeness and hatred everyone shared for each other ("I'll 86 your f*cking balls if you don't help close!).

    Why is this atmosphere so unique to the backbone/casual atmosphere places of the restaurant industry? You don't get it in higher-end places. It's so awesome and so hard to explain to "out-siders".

  2. #2
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    So you are saying... that you haven't been in a professional kitchen ever and haven't cooked for money for 3 years and you wonder why the better restaurants have better cooks with higher standards and food ?

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    Not at all how I read that. He is just saying he misses the whole "kitchen confidential" style feel of certain places. Personally I prefer the different brotherhood and feel of higher end kitchens, but not the large 10+ cooks on the line places. I'll take the slightly smaller crew and controlled volume of smaller spots. We have a tight crew of 4 where I am now and we all push each other to be our best and even as sous if they have issue with my work I expect them to speak up. Pumping out 150-200 covers a night (restaurant can't seat many) with the equipment we have, one hiccup can set you back 20 min a ticket and you may never dig out of it so we have to be spot on all the time it is rough and everyone dives in to help at any point, but I love it. I'm possibly the happiest I've been my whole career.

    I started in a kitchen like the one described in the original post although not that extreme and while it was a good place and I loved it I wanted so much more and so I left to find people and places that matched my standards and aspirations better.

    I don't think it was as much a query on why it exists in the places it does and not in the higher end joints, as much as a bit of longing for the comrades and pirates he knew before I totally get it.

    But I'm so so so glad I got away from it. You'll still find some of these in higher end spots but the coke dealing servers we had I don't miss them at all. Not to mention the coke snorting cooks and the fist fights they tried to start.

  4. #4

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    I agree with SARGE . 4 kitchen crew was my last place ,and it was tight .

    small crews tight kitchens , food oriented and chef centric quality driven will always be better at the end of the day . As long as the restaurant is serious about food and has a creative process in place .
    just my 2 cents .

  5. #5
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumblinman View Post
    So you are saying... that you haven't been in a professional kitchen ever and haven't cooked for money for 3 years and you wonder why the better restaurants have better cooks with higher standards and food ?
    How I read it he's saying he has only been cooking professionally for 3 years.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ams View Post
    You know the type: 65 plus hour weeks, chicken picatta and prime rib, insanely busy holidays, exhaustion to the point of hilarity, minimum wage and rat catching, dishwashers eating scraps out of the bus bin, refrigerator doors held together with coat hangers, ridiculous kitchen politics (cold line lady banging the head chef and getting paid bank to toss salads in more ways the one and never have to do any of the dirty work amongst a million other things), house knives with strings tied around them to denote whose is whose, sysco is walmart and god put together, and the closeness and hatred everyone shared for each other ("I'll 86 your f*cking balls if you don't help close!)
    It's just Stockholm Syndrome. You remember it "fondly" because you had to make it into something it wasn't to get by. It's sophist nonsense we lie to each other about, to make glamorous a job which is, fundamentally, no different than putting slop in a trough. It's a sweaty, dirty, stinky, underpaid, overworked kinda job that any untrained assclown can be trained to do quickly: if you don't pretend it's more than that (and just about eeevvverry sumbitch I know does), you'll never be able to keep on doing it.

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    Yeah Vertigo laid it down proper! Its not the shithole you miss, its the feeling of being a part of a fun team, no matter how obnoxious and drugged out. We loved it because we didnt know any better, and because to think that something better was out there while you were doing THAT... well, it didnt make you feel awesome, it made you want to get blackout drunk after your shift. As if you werent going to anyway... Now I'm part of a team, with good food, good standards, and good people... no drugs and one shift beer 15min before we close. I understand this nostalgia, but I almost equate it to someone saying, " I wish I was 21 again." I hear that and think, 'not on your life, I was a dumbass at 21' Meaning, I don't miss it but I sure am glad I was there, because it showed me where I really wanted to be... and thinking about it now reminds me of where I'm glad I'm not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumjockey View Post
    Yeah Vertigo laid it down proper! Its not the shithole you miss, its the feeling of being a part of a fun team, no matter how obnoxious and drugged out. We loved it because we didnt know any better, and because to think that something better was out there while you were doing THAT... well, it didnt make you feel awesome, it made you want to get blackout drunk after your shift. As if you werent going to anyway... Now I'm part of a team, with good food, good standards, and good people... no drugs and one shift beer 15min before we close. I understand this nostalgia, but I almost equate it to someone saying, " I wish I was 21 again." I hear that and think, 'not on your life, I was a dumbass at 21' Meaning, I don't miss it but I sure am glad I was there, because it showed me where I really wanted to be... and thinking about it now reminds me of where I'm glad I'm not.
    Extremely well put sir

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