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« can you say goddamn? | Main | Anson Mills: extra ordinary flours! »

08 April 2005


Thanks for an inspiring post. I do not work in a restaurant or anywhere in the food business, but what you've said is something that anyone who supervises others should take to heart. It sounds as though your talent goes way beyond cooking.

A chef is a person, share your treats!

Sez Biggles

Excellent peice. My grandfather spent 12 years apprenticing his craft. Would that we all had to do an apprenticeship to work. It's a flaw in the industry. Kids pay $50,000 to become a chef. Give 'em a toke, teach them a few things, call them a chef. Unfortunately, as you state there is soooooo much more.

You are inspiring.

Thanks for both the reference and the post which so eloquently says much I hold true about our work.

Developing people and getting them ready to move beyond what I can teach them is the most important part of my job. It's exciting and devastating when a cook moves on. It's just plain devastating when a cook who should move on, doesn't.

I always credit my staff first. Particularly the dishwasher. Without him, I am nothing.

As a teenager I did everything from dishwashing at the Ahwahnee Hotel to cooking short-order (terribly) at a "Heidi's Pies" chain to being a waiter at a Holiday Inn. The only food service role I was really excellent at was dishwasher (and thank you for your wisdom, haddock). But frankly the food and beverage industry was too tough for me so I left it, happily, and joined the sharks in the world of offices.

Thanks for the writing. It just gets better and better.

You could replace 'chef' with 'scientist', and it all but summarizes the state of things in our field. Luckily, I work with someone who believes in the same principles as you, but there are plenty of cases that are just like what you describe. Case in point: I always say I work WITH my boss, and they say I work FOR their bosses. Subtle but important difference in mindset.

thanks for this great post. a scholar of eggs. yesssssssssssssss!!!!!


I have a pretty low tolerance for hierarchy, authority, teacher/student relationships and the like, so everything you describe in both your critique and in your recommended style of interaction gives me a little of the shivers.

I'm curious: do you think the hierarchy of a fancy kitchen is necissary to produce the yummy food? Is there an alternative structure that would work?

My dad was a cook for a few years. A Laney cooking school guy. He warned me away from professional kitchens and my one week thawing cheap veal at a chain restaurant reinforced what he told me. It's certainly nothing I could do now.

Nice to see you last night by the way...

Wow, somehow I posted my comment 3 times. Feel free to delete.


Hi Shuna,
I am bringing up the rear here (seven months later) but never the less I totally identify!

Here is a quote for the french Laundry- "nobody cares how much you know till they know how much you care"

shuna - BRAVO! I am standing up applauding. This is fabulous. Thoughtful, exceptionally well written (like all your writing!).

More importantly you absolutely hit dead on on the essence that is tantamount to being a "true" chef. FOr real chefs, I look to Andre Soltner or Jacques Pepin. In school, Andre told us not to get big heads, show up every morning and cook good food day after day after day for 30 years...THEN you can call yourself a chef.

I love being around them because the teach and inspire. They get excited for you when they see you catch onto something, a new technique or skill. When cooking on Jacques' last show, Fast FOod My Way, he was there every morning at 7am and spent that first hour in the kitchen with us going over the day's recipes, demonstrating exactly how he wanted things done....and why! It was a private cooking lesson every morning and time I will treasure. If only more "chefs" in restaurants were like them....and you!

thank you for this! Laura

Is it ever too late to say "Thanks" for that. Hope not. Carry on being inspired and inspiring.


It's never too late to say thank you. You are welcome.

Sometimes it's frightening to be this honest.

Thank you for your comment.

Wow, this is an inspirational post. Everything you describe comes down to one thing for me -- caring. If you care about your craft, your people and your own reputation you can't help but do the things you mentioned. Thanks for reminding us all about what's important.

recently, i read about your article titled 'what is a chef's responsibility' and let me start by saying how inspiring your article is to me. I am from Malaysia and Im studying hotel management and have grown a loving relationship with food and of course COOKING it. The reason i wrote to you is because i have an assignment with the title 'To succeed as a chef today, one needs to be able to do more than just cook'. I was wondering if you have anymore pointers you can share with me to make my assignment a great one.

Hello Dennis,

Thank you for posting your question here.

Being a chef is indeed more than merely thinking of wonderful dishes and cooking them. The word chef inplies management: managing people, crews, stations, suppliers, fron of house staff, and one's own personality among all of these factors.

When we become management it's important that we know how to lead, how to inspire, how to instruct and how to answer questions. I never went to a management class so I looked to those who had managed me well. I thought back through all of my schooling and tried to think about what my favorite teachers my favorites.

Being a chef is not merely about doing the job you're being told to do, but to go above and beyond what's before you, learning new things every day, staying later, comiung in earlier. Being leader means that your cooks are looking to you for their own lead. Will you push lazy cooks or settle for the bullshit they hand you? When will you give up on them? Are you paying close attention? Cooks can smell fear, smell weakness.

And then there's all the math involved. What are the costs of your kitchen? Can you keep them under control? How do youplan the menu so customers order a little of everything-- those items which you can mark up a lot, those which barely break even.

The chef's kitchen is her home. The cooks are his children. The food they put out is consistent, even when they are not cooking it themselves!

Dennis, feel free to come back to Eggbeater and tell us a little bit about what you wrote about!

its really wonderful matters thats the Chef's responsibilities.Of course those perosns can't be Chef if he/she can't patient it own profession as well they can't if they don't have any creativity.

this was beautiful,and i will read it over and over,especially when i need inspiration.

and u described it no better than i would
most beautiful blog i have ever read

my favourite line was "Being a chef is a verb. As is love."

this hits home..because being a chef,being with food,it is my #1 love,before my lover,friends,anyone.

I'm doing a project about what a chef is and their responsibilities and their outlook toward their job.
If anyone can help me its due monday.
My email is [email protected]

Thank you!!!!!

nice piece of advice iam going to save it word on my pc for future reference ,,, thank you very much regards

Thank you so much for this wounderful informations and stories. Well, Im a High School senior student making a research about chefs and there responsibilities, you've really helpped a lot. well I am from a very small island called Palau which is located in the pacific ocean. and i am really intrested in your stories and advices.

I have been a line cook for 15 years. In between I have learned how to do every position in the kitchen. I had the misfortune of working under the three of the worst "chefs" I have ever seen at my last job(Country Club). As cooks we were forced to call them"Chef insert name here" Every time I or any of the other cooks had to call them "Chef" poor Escoffier rolled over in his grave a few times. They obvioulsy couldnt "Chef" their way out of a wet paper bag. Its a shame to see a "Sous Chef" spill salad for a wedding party of 300 all over the floor, pick it and serve it like nothing was wrong.
I did learn alot. How not to treat people. How to lose all control over your kitchen staff. I wasted 4 months of my life in this place. But all in all I did learn something. Take a look at yourself as a Chef. If you don't understand why your employees don't come back every year It might not be them, it may be you! And be careful not to trip on your ego.
Much thanks to you Chef Eggbeater. For inspiring your cooks to live it, love it and be it. I would love to come to your restaurant and kick ass on the line sometime. I have a deep mistrust now of someone that I am forced to call "Chef". Those 3 were a disgrace to the name. A real chef dosent demand respect, he or she gets it.

Great post. A lot of true remarks you have mentioned. Nice to find others out there in the industry with good work and lifestyle ethics. Looking forward to reading more. Regards John

i will be doing training in culinary skills-full time and had never ever been in this field before nor had any experienced. my question is on the wkends i would like to do some sort of part time jobs concerning with my carrer?? can anybody suggest wht type of job should i look up for ....thax

As a assistant chef and 'chef' for 20 years the only thing that I hope to teach any young man or woman is to get out of the business. Seriously.

Great comments. As a retreat House Chef I enjoy a alot of the things, that you have spoken of. The principles are the same though and can be applied throughout the concern.

I have trained young dishwashers to be cooks, it's amazing though that that these talented individuals go on to something different. The skills you can learn in a kitchen will set you apart from the competition in any other job.

As always though, good food, hard work and teaching will win in the end.

and don't be afraid to make a mistake or 2

i just graduated from cooking schooland question what make a chef a good chef because that's what i want be

Amen. 17 years young in the kitchen and the learning never stops. There are too few chefs who understand the role of true leadership.

Truth. Loyalty. Strength. Love. All qualities of a chef worthy of the title. I too trained on the line, seeing the good, the bad, & the very ugly over the last 20 years and I have stayed with it because I believe in what we do. This is a passion. A fierce dedication to the creation of something far beyond delicious, to something zen, something that is punch you in the soul amazing! I stick with it for those bright moments when out of the harsh brutality of kitchens & life we can humbly be part of the creation of magical beauty. Ours is no easy path but it can be a noble one. I am nothing without the strength of my crew. I teach them all, having done every job in every corner of my kitchens myself before them, one cannot demand respect, one must command it.

I own a restaurant for 28 years and today, I decided to look up "chefs Responsibility" and came across you. Loved it. It is so true chefs, must look at the coast that's is #1 that is way i still work 6and 1/2 day's a week, I must look over him with coast. he has be with me for 20 plus I known he is not a CHEF but it works. I realize from your piece that he will never be a chef.I found your piece fresh witty and a little like A. Bourdain.where can i find other things you wrote?.

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