No, not the unedited version of James Franco’s film 127hours, That’s how long I spent yesteryear behind the stove of a professional fine dining kitchen. Four thousand one hundred and seventy seven point five hours. That’s around five sixteen hour shifts in a row (though occasionally I get half days so therefore there are some twenty plus hour days in the mix). My misanthropic peers and I spend eighty plus hours of our weeks, painstakingly and meticulously preparing produce, using what could only be described as kitchen sorcery to turn food in to a Monet-esque presentation that will aid you and your partner to get laid on your anniversary.
So it comes as no surprise that the majority of chefs know and are all together more passionate about food than you will ever be or ever want to be for that matter. Unless of course you’ve seen the Masterchef series which would instantaneously make you much better than I am at my job. But if we are such creatures of passion, how do we judge the food that we consume? when you, a mere mortal, place that faux lasagne you saw on Jamie’s 15 minute meals infront of me… chef, nay GOD of cuisine – am I thinking to myself through a false smile “I made a better looking meal this morning on the toilet after my morning coffee”?
I think firstly we have to kill a myth: chefs are not food snobs Yes we would disavow And probably castrate a chef who had committed cardinal sins of cookery like the arsehole who thinks packet gravy is an acceptable substitute for making one because he is too fucking lazy. But most of us were drawn into cooking because we enjoy eating food, not hating and judging it. We all have our guilty pleasures too; David Chang and his chicken nuggets; Bourdain and his love of gooey processed cheese; and my personal preference for any form of sausage, of any mutant variant, slapped on a bun and labeled a hot dog get inside me now you delicious slut. A lot of chefs diets are comprised wholly of a combination of the Golden Arches, the colonel, Chinese take out and the daily staff meal, hence why we look like spitting images of health.
Secondly, when a chef is dining out, you have to consider a chef not only has pre-conceived standards and insider knowledge, a chef also knows what every meal costs to put on a plate, he probably knows how much people are getting paid, a ball park figure of the rent and so on: therefore a chef actually knows whether or not a meal is worth what you pay for oh.. you want to take me to your favourite “family restaurant”? where they sing happy birthday, slap a thirty eight dollar barely passable MSA grade rib eye on my plate accompanied by a fluorescent dressed salad coupled with shit service and that stupid fucking parsley garnish circa 1983, which obviously can only be made better with a cocktail so green it looks like it’s Lou ferrignos piss after he went all Hulk served in a glass so long and phallic I think I may be arrested for lewd behaviour in public. If you want to take me here, chances are I will probably judge your dining prowess quite poorly. Or why not try out the new modern gastro Moroccan, African fusion restaurant bar, cafe, rug and tapestry house …Put it this way, if You can’t describe what the establishment does in less than 4 words it’s probably a shit hole, in fact it may be worse than a shit hole. Just because it sounds different doesn’t mean it is good or that I want to be there…just don’t bother. If you want a safe bet, tell your chef compadre how poor or rich you are and I’m sure they could list 20 places off the top of their heads that would be better than the TGI mc fucking Fridays steakhouse you want to take them to and you also get to cater to their giant and ever expanding ego’s.
Thirdly and most importantly if you decide to cook for a chef at home: KISS – keep it simple stupid a Chef is generally craving home food, it’s a rarity for us to be home and eating, it’s a pleasant sanctum to be in. The main place people go wrong when cooking for chefs is the assumption we require something extravagant or outside the box and give themselves too much and dishes of too high a level of difficulty. PUT THE FUCKING PURÉE DOWN we eat extravagant food often, we make it every day. The last thing I want Is a watercress velouté or a foam of smoke essence which I would actually start to judge because you’ve probably done it wrong. I want simple, home food, barbecues, and roasts. If a dish has a nickname such as bangers and mash or it comes in a pie variety, then we will be immensely happy. Pastas with nothing but butters and capers makes me smile. As much as it pains me to say it Jamie Oliver’s cooking in a home circumstance is good though I differ to his professional work, his food for the everyday home cook is spot on. If what you’re cooking can’t be done whilst drinking a beer or wine, then rethink what you’re doing.
If you still, even after reading this, have an undying desire to prepare food for a chef then heed my gospel
-Thou shalt not cook well done beef.
-Thou shalt not purée or foam.
-Thou shalt embrace pig in all of its glory be it crispy or soft, bacon or pancetta, or any other form.
-thou shalt not put unnecessary sprigs of herbs unless it actually adds to the flavour of the dish.
– thou shalt keep it simple stupid.