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« Intuition. | Main | Disclosure on the Web »

14 March 2008

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I think it doesn't matter that much if it is disclosed. On either side - yours or the restaurant. In my world, my clients often use "high profile" design consultants to develop retail stores, but ultimately their retail stores stand alone, and those who make it happen - from the small puppies like me to the big-name architects - are invisible. That's fine and expected.

I think most of use are keen to know "the place" not out of some big moral Q about disclosure, but because we admire your work, and want access to your desserts. Even if you are not the one who will be cooking them. That's the selfish motivation. And because we feel we have gotten to know you through this blog, and we care about you and the details of your life. We want to support you by showing our interest. Even if that may be out of bounds.

In any case, it is great to see you digging into a challenge again, and to hear about the details, even if we never get to know where it is!

I think people will figure out where soon, if they haven't already. There have been plenty of hints in the usual places.

I think mentioning the place will help encourage people who might not ordinarily head that direction for a nicer meal; good publicity for your employers means more work for you, yes? And I am sure that when people tell their servers that they came because they're addicted to your desserts, that's good for you, too. My only question is how do your bosses feel? Presumably, anyone who hires Shuna knows they're hiring Eggbeater, too?

I hadn't read those Eater comments before; Jesus, people are evil. Please know that for every person who hates that you're "too loud, too sensitive, too strong, too in-your-face", there are a dozen more who love you for just the same reasons.

Dear Shuna,

As you know, I'm a Chef de Partie for Guy Savoy in Paris, France and I blog about my experiences as an American female cook in a French kitchen and I provide recipes and videos.

Everyone in the restaurant knows I blog now and they are supportive of it. I think even Guy Savoy enjoys hearing my tales.

I have had a few problems where I stepped over the line and mentioned others in a negative way, but that was two years ago when I was first starting out in the blogging world. Now I know better after three years of writing about my experiences.

Today I try to keep it focused on my own personal successes/failures/learning experiences and keep the rest of the staff fuzzy in the background. (like you!)

I think your blog is fantastic and that you have a right to express your feelings (and your amazing talents and recipes).

Also, I think there needs to be more female cooks/chef writing about their experiences cooking for big restaurants. It's challenging and exciting and I feel our voices should be heard as well.

Remember, the Bay Area (I'm a San Franciscan native) can be highly critical and vocal about their opinions, but it's not EVERYONE'S opinions!

I hope you continue to share your adventures and passion for patisserie

Gros, Gros Bisous,
Ms. Glaze

Firstly, trust yourself; intuition is powerful. Secondly, wearing your heart on your sleeve is authentic, albeit courageous. Be kind to yourself, we're not perfect - hurrah! Lastly, consulting is a first-step, not an end... you can lead a horse to water, etc. So, throw it out there and watch for ripples. Cheers, Shuna!

I don't think it matters, FWIW.

And I agree that bacon is a Good Thing in trying times.

And [your last job] still has your photo on the "Team" Page and your name on the dessert menu. Which I think Sucks.

All the best, Shuna. Take very good care of yourself.

[sfl edit]

Shuna, you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. As you mentioned, you are one of three people in that room that day, and everyone *else* merely provide personal speculations. One of the main problems I have with the web today is that people feel that they can be more cruel because of the "hey - we're strangers!" factor. Well, hey, we're still all HUMAN BEINGS - show some respect while expressing your opinion, for heaven's sake!

In regards to naming your new gig, I think it's something to discuss with your client. Your heart. Honestly, though, if you do, just *prepare* yourself. For the best AND the worst. Really, who knows? It's a gamble either way.

Shuna, write on! Be true to yourself! You haven't gotten this far by sucking up to your readers, so rock on with yo' bad self.

I think the name doesn't matter because what you write about is being played out everyday in varying degrees in restaurants across America.

The pros: The restaurant gets some promotion. People can flock to try your creations.

The cons: when something goes terribly awry and attacks become personal. If your menu is implemented poorly once you are not directly supervising it.

Hello Shuna!

Thank you for this post. I have a similar dilemma, though nothing as interesting as yours. :)I'm just starting out as a lowly apprentice at a lovely little restaurant in Brooklyn.

When I began work in the kitchen, I also began a blog keep notes of my learnings, and to share them with friends and family.

I decided to keep the name of the chef and restaurant "undercover," not knowing how they would feel about their kitchen being revealed to the world. Perhaps they would be flattered, perhaps they would be irked. But these days I wonder more and more if it's o.k. to keep it private, or if I owe it to the chef to let him know that it exists.

I'd love to hear from you (and others in the industry) first-hand how you would feel about an apprentice writing about your restaurant staff and techniques in such detail.

Oh, and thanks for the links to other chef-written blogs!

shuna Yes, I want your name on the menu. Yes I want to hear about your next gig, where when and all the minutia. Yes we understand some projects will not survive.
You are one of a few blog I read regularly. There you are heart and soul open to the world with pen and pictures.
thank you

What did we do before blogging?

my mantra is that I never write a comment without using my real name whatever the repercussions....of course u will have readers who are nasty and they will always use an alias - continue to write as you would cook- it is what makes u genuine

Hay,

Hmmm, cons? Confrontations such as these.

Pros? It's fun. We (general public) love to hear and pretend we're involved in some way with chefs, cooks & commercial kitchens. I'll bet a few shifts would handle that, right quick. Hey?

Hollar if you want me to go kick someone's ass. Cause sometimes, it's a good thing.

xo

This has nothing to do with this post but I wanted you to know I recently asked a waitress to tell the PASTRY chef "that was THE best tarte tatin I've ever eaten".

Personally, I don't think people should blog about other people.

Most of the pastry chef blogs I read, they're writing about themselves and what they do. I know if I was hiring someone, I wouldn't want them blogging about me.

ie: "David spent the whole shift working with something hanging out of his nose!" or "Someone dropped a cookie on the floor, and served it!" (Just for the record, I don't serve things I've dropped on the floor...)

I know many businesses often have employees sign non-disclosure agreements. A few years back someone blogged about working in a store and when a famous author came to do a signing and made a purchase, they blogged about some very personal information and were fired. Call me crazy, but I believe that private individuals still have the right to remain private if they want to.

While it's great to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at what we're doing, I think we also have the right to keep some information to ourselves. If you're going to blog about what you do, write about yourself, not others. And if you hire someone to work for you, they should be respectful of what they're writing about...unless you're working for an abusive beef packaging plant.

I know I am incredibly shy about writing anything that could be considered negative about my work place, no matter what I feel. Sometimes I feel like my hands are tied, that there are things I'd love to get off my chest. But in the end, this industry is a family of sorts, and no matter what we in the family chatter about to ourselves over hot stoves or drinks late at night, it's meant for just us.

It's like the timeless feeling that no one talks about your mama. The public can take any small tidbit of information out of context and begin the rumor process, which I would never want to get back to my blog. It's bad enough with the game of telephone that spreads from word of mouth. And once it is out there on the internet, it is so readily accessible with a google search, there is no knowing where those words will go and how they will be taken. Words and information wield so much power. And like Peter Parker said, well, you know.

I was incredibly cautious when I began the blogging process because I was in the kitchen at The Fat Duck, a restaurant the entire world was looking at. I didn't know my blog was read by more than my mother and a few friends until they published pieces of it in the London Guardian. I was very thankful that I had been cautious, because my audience immediately expanded from 5 people to who knows how many, Heston included.

Almost everyone I have worked for has read my blog regularly. And I carefully choose my words as if they were in the room when I was writing. Part of me knows that I would pore over a blog written by someone in the restaurant I built or ran. I just use the rule of thumb, that I don't share anything I wouldn't say to their face.

I also delete comments at will, if I find them negative. It's not that I don't think people have the right to their opinions, or the right to voice them. But my blog is not the place.

If the comment is an attack, needlessly negative or aggressive, rude, foul, or just plain unnecessary, I have no regrets about deleting them.

I particularly delete comments that bad mouth other restaurants.

I have had bad experiences, I know that everyone has. But unless you can share the pros and cons in a constructive manner, your words are not welcome on my blog. There are other places for those words, websites I too read, for people to vent their outrageous experiences, share horrific dinners. But I know I am very sensitive to anything said about me or the restaurants I have been in, and I won't be the host for words that hurt others in my industry family. I am not saying those things shouldn't be said, just that they won't be put "on the record" on my site.

I have always admired your ability to share so much of the ups and downs of your experience, Shuna, because I have never had the courage to share everything. You have helped guide me through hard times, inspired me during others.

But I completely understand your desire to start holding back. It's like a soap opera to the readers, but very real to those in your life, those you work with. It's impossible to deny that what we write effects them, and wise to consider these effects when writing, to put yourself in their shoes, whether you decide to moderate or not.

Now I feel bad for not writing at TNK for almost six weeks. I might have to go poke my head in and give an update. I did get a job, by the way -- I'm really happy. I feel so happy and lucky it makes me wonder when the other shoe's gonna drop.

Thanks for the nod, by the way. I read the comments at that first link -- jealousy turns people into such pieces of shit.

As far as whose name is on the menu, living in Vegas, I'll put it this way, one way I've put it before (and I'm sure has already been said by someone else): Bobby Flay isn't cooking your food at the Mesa Grill at Caesar's. It's Roberto. Or Jose. Or Javier. This is only my experience where celebrity chefs open new restaurants like they're nothing -- Mario Batali isn't at B & B at the Venetian, Wolfgang Puck isn't at any of his joints... they're on book tours or hosting TV shows or on a fact-finding working vacation. They're not on the pass. They're just a name to get you in the door. This is something I don't think tourists realize. It doesn't mean it's bad, it's just what it is. How it pertains here: the food has to do the talking, not who is making it.

At some point, the ego has to be subdued. All it seems to do is cause heartache when recognition that is believed due isn't given or, like the above, someone gets called out as a hack by losers with nothing better to do. Sure, you can consider the source, but the damage is done. Some people believe what they read and nothing can change their mind: "that old pastry chef at [the last place your worked]? Yeah, I heard/read someone say she was This and That. No, I don't think I want to try the new place where she's cooking." Once you're up on that pedestal they only want to kick you down and call you an asshole. If you're a sensitive soul to begin with, this can cause issues. If you don't give two rat's asses what anyone thinks about you, then do what you like. Fuck 'em.

If your client doesn't want to be named, then don't. On the other hand, if your client doesn't mind being named, then you have a choice. If the project is successful, you'll have something you can be proud of attaching your name to. Good for everyone involved. If it goes horribly awry, as this last one seems to have, well... you don't strike me as the sort of person who shies away from learning from a mistake. As long as the client is comfortable with the fact that you make a point of chronicling what you do in a very public way, then I say do whatever you think is appropriate. Personally, I'm not that curious to know what this new gig of yours is (although I did have fun trying to figure out the last one; my guess, based on your association with A16, was SPQR), as I don't live anywhere near it (unless you've relocated without telling us).

And I have to say, I'm impressed, or maybe just intrigued, at your willingness to lay so bare what you do, what you feel, what you experience, and how others react to you. Most of us wouldn't do that. It's certainly brave, and probably a little foolish, but DAMN, it makes for good copy. I've read through those EaterSF comments. I have no idea of how fair or unfair they may be, but given what I know of you from this blog and a brief meeting over pie dough, I can well imagine you're "difficult" to some folks. Most creative, passionate, loud, in your face people are, from time to time.

If you have a vision for what you want to do, and you're not afraid to defend it, at some point somebody's going to feel some resentment toward you.

But that's on them, not you. So keep doing what you do, as though it could be any other way...

Whatever you write I read
just for pure pleasure
names
no names
all the same to me
delicious

I did a lot of hard thinking about simlar issues when I first started blogging, particularly as I am an emplyee and worried about the ethics of blogging about my workplace.

See this post for those thoughts and some links to good discussions on these issues.

Probably the best advice I got was from a fellow blogger Lisa, who wrote "Don't blog what you don't own" Her comment on my post above has some great links in it as well.

Best of luck with the new venture!

When I blog about work, I use the restaurant's name. I work in a small town, a for real small town--Athens, Ohio, makes the Bay Area look like Metropolis--so folks would know what I was talking about even if I didn't mention the name.

But, on the other hand, I was hired as the chef on the strength of my blog--the owners had been reading it for about a year, and knew me through my writing and my recipes. So, they know what I blog about, they still read the blog and I write about work, the good and the bad, although, it is mostly good.

I wouldn't talk smack about anyone at work--we do have a problem child on staff (doesn't every restaurant have at least one problem child?) but I don't talk about her on my blog. But I will tell funny stories if they happen, and everyone who works with me and under me knows it, and it is okay.

As for what you should do--I think it is between you, your heart and your client.

And keep writing the way that you do. I love your writing, and your insights. Keep up the great work, please.

(And, if I lived closer, I would second Biggle's offer of ass-kicking, but the travel expenses might be a bit much.)

My advice to you would be to blog about everything you love, except when it comes to people who are paying for your services. When you agree to work with them, I'm assuming you have a standard Letter of Agreement or invoice or something, upon which there should be some language about how you will talk about your work with them.

Some places may want you to sing it from the rooftops, others, not so much. But I'd keep it off your personal blog, and if a client wants your help in promoting your work with them, use Eater, Chow, eGullet or some other third party. That way, work is work, and personal is personal, and the lines don't get blurred.

And yes, I recognize that a lot of what you do for "work" inherently has a very personal touch to it, but I think the two can be kept separate for the public eye, and ultimately, might result in a less stressful atmosphere overall.

I think people are entitled to their opinions, but they don't have to be so nasty! It's one thing to voice a thought, but quite another to resort to name calling...it's almost like word vomit...what would have the person said if s/he took a few more moments to rephrase those ugly words??
I love hearing about your adventures and am glad that you are involved in a new endeavor. I will miss being able to stop by [doot de doo] to sample the new dessert(s), but am happy to know that another place gets to be brightened by your yummy ideas!

In regards to those catty cretins on eaterSF who sharpened their claws on your reputation: bugger, futter and swive them. They don't deserve your consideration, attention, or momentary consternation.

As far as you (allegedly) being too loud, proud, etc: so what? There is one truism in the music world that holds fast in the food world: there ain't nobody normal. And...the more creative and passionate one is, the less normalcy evinces.
You care about your craft. That intimidates the half hearted.
Keep it up.

Hey Shuna

I say go with your gut instinct. You are well known in the biz and your name means something to many people. I don't think that your fingerprints need to be on everything for you to be comfortable having your name as a consulting pastry chef. As long as your the people making your creations are doing so with your blessing and you're proud of what they are turning out, it can only benefit you.

Good luck and I love your post about being excited to work. I still feel that way after almost 8 years at the same place and I know I am lucky to still feel that.

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