It's been a while since I reminisced about my days as a chef, I guess it's just getting further and further behind me and I rarely think about it any more. Today though I read an article that got me back thinking that way again. It was titled...."Do Restaurant Chef's really spit on food?" Oh not that old chestnut again. This is the article....
A waiter at Per Se, one of New York City's top-rated restaurants, reveals secrets and debunks some urban legends surrounding food service culture:
"Then you have the couple that goes and has sex in the bathroom—that happens quite a lot. You have people who throw up—they throw up a lot. There was one woman—it was a VIP tasting menu, I remember this: She just threw up on the table, in the middle of an extended tasting menu. They cleaned it up, and she 'boot-and-rallied.' She finished the meal."
The anonymous waiter also reveals that when drinking wine at a restaurant, the cost of a glass is often what the restaurant paid for the bottle. "That's the only way that we make money on it," the waiter tells New York Magazine. And thankfully, one of the least appetizing restaurant rumors, chefs spitting in a diner's food, is more imagination than reality, at least according to the source:
"[T]he cooks work 70 or 80 hours a week and make next to nothing, but they work because they want to cook. And to do that to something, to spit in prep work that someone has spent eight hours of work on—blood, sweat, and tears and all—it's just not done."
There is at least one heart-warming anecdote as well, on how a special trip out to eat can be memorable for the waiting staff as well:
"There's nothing more fun than to wait on someone who is genuinely interested in the food. You'll get a couple that comes in, and this is their one time a year, and they're just so happy to be at the restaurant. There was this kid blogger, he was like 16 or 17, and he had blogged about how he was saving up his allowance to come to Per Se. And he did. He came by himself and had lunch."
So the anonymous waiter from Per Se has cleared that all up for us and he even threw a couple of heart warming stories into the pot as well. Look, anonymous waiter dude is right, chef's just don't spit on food. Why would they? You wouldn't get to see the person eat it, so where's the fun in that? Plus you'd have to answer to every other staff member in the kitchen who had a any sort of morals or ethics (hard to believe chefs had these I know but it's true.). In an 18 year career as a chef, in numerous kitchens across the world, I never once saw a chef do anything like that, well only this once, but I'm still not overly proud of that moment even today.
Yell at you, yes. Tell you to get the fuck out of his restaurant, yes. Tell you to get the fuck out of his kitchen, oh yes. Throw a meal across the kitchen, yes. Call you every name under the sun until you start to tear up, yes. But spit on your food, not unless it becomes the new way to make a foam, no.
Random pic of a sweaty little French Chef I was apprenticed to for about 6 months. He only knew fairly classical dishes so it wasn't long before a) he had nothing more to teach me and b) management let him go. Nice guy though. This was New Years Eve 1983/84 (Steve's Hotel, Nedlands)