1. You’ll almost always have open wounds on your hands and arms.
2. You’ll never meet new people because your social life deteriorates into non-existence.
3. You’ll find it hard to start relationships because alone time will become a precious thing.
4. You’ll lose your social skills.
5. Your sense of humour will degrade into the politically incorrect and socially
6. You’ll eventually start swearing like a sailor and you won’t even notice yourself doing it.
7. You’ll turn into an anorak/monomaniac and always turn all conversations back to food.
8. You’ll earn a pittance for years/decades.
9. You’ll either lose a vast amount of weight or gain a vast amount of weight.
10. You’ll never ever have a tan ever again.
11. You won’t become famous.
12. You’ll develop a habit, whether it be coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, cannabis,
cocaine, or even red bull.
13. Your feet will get destroyed.
14. Your back will get destroyed.
15. Your hands will get destroyed.
16. You’ll live in a constant state of sleep deprivation, indefinitely.
17. You’ll have to ask your friends to plan everything around your schedule, which is in
complete opposition with their availability, because you never know your days off in
advance and you probably won’t be able to change it.
18. You’ll become of a very highly strung nature
19. You’ll become more prone to temper flare ups
20. Your awareness of other people’s lack of efficiency and common sense will increase and
your tolerance of it will decrease.
21. You’ll spend the largest part of your life cooped up in a small, undecorated room with
poor ventilation, high temperatures, a lot of noise, humidity, no natural light and no
windows, with a small group of people who will become your only social interactions.
22. You will work longer hours than you ever imagined possible or thought legal.
23. You will spend all your waking hours on your feet, never getting a chance to sit down
even for 5 minutes.
24. Your shortest work days will be longer than most people’s longest, and your longer work
days, which make up about half of your working week, will be longer than the average
person is awake in a day.
25. You will not cook gourmet dinners at home. You’ll be too tired, and too fed up of cooking.
26. You will probably start eating mostly fast food and cheap instant noodles.
27. You will be the subject of abuse, whether physical or emotional. Officially, it will be as a
test of character. In reality, it will be as a form of entertainment.
28. You will end up spending so much time at work that your colleagues will know you better
than your partner/family/friends do.
29. You will meet and form strong bonds with types of people whom you’d previously never
even have imagined sharing conversations with.
30. You will be in a constant state of stress.
31. You will never be irreplaceable and will be expected to constantly give 110%.
32. You will always be exhausted.
33. You will not be allowed to call in sick for a hangover.
34. You will be expected to place your work before any other part of your life in your list of
35. You will never be congratulated on your work.
36. You will be expected to treat your superiors as absolute masters and never answer
back, try to explain yourself, start a conversation, or show any other type of
insubordination, even if you know that they are in the wrong or feel as if their behaviour
towards you is unacceptable.
37. It will become very difficult to watch friends cook.
38. Your mom will stop cooking for you because she feels embarrassed.
39. You will be expected to cook for family gatherings such as Christmas EVERY SINGLE
YEAR. Luckily, at least one year out of two, you will be working on Christmas.
40. At least one year out of two, and maybe every year, you will work Christmas, New Year’s
Eve, Easter, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, Father’s day, bank holidays, Halloween, your
birthday, and pretty much every other day of celebration on the calendar.
41. You will have to work many years in menial positions before attaining any level of
authority in the workplace.
42. The better the restaurant is, the longer the work hours become, the more pressure you
end up under, the more unhealthy your lifestyle will become, the more likely you will be
to develop a habit, the more competitive the people around you will become, the less
sleep you’ll get, the less you’ll eat etc.
43. You will constantly make mistakes, and every time you do make a mistake, someone will
notice it and make you understand that you are clearly a subhuman because only a
subhuman could make such a mistake.
44. If you are a woman, you will constantly be the subject of misogynist remarks and jokes,
sexual harassment, belittlement and remarks about your menstrual cycle.
45. None of your friends or family will understand what is involved in your work and you will
never be able to make them understand.
46. You will spend vast amounts of money on equipment, books, eating in good restaurants
etc, which will leave you with not much money for other things.
47. You will develop a creepy obsession with knives.
48. If you are a pastry chef, you will develop a creepy obsession with spoons.
49. You will get a rash in your ass crack from the mixture of heat, sweat and friction that will
not heal well, sometimes get infected, will mostly always be slimy and itchy and will be
there most of the time.
50. If you are the right type of person, you will thank your lucky star every single day for the
rest of your life for making you take the best decision you ever did and become a chef.
And you will fall in love with your job and never look back.
Throwback Thursday for you mofos. Back at JWU. I was team captain for the Providence team of the ACF Intracollegiate Culinary Competition. This was the final day.
REFUSING TO SPEND MONEY ON NON-WESTERN RESTAURANTS IS RACIST.
Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)
Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.And if you don’t see the problem with that,check out this conversation between Francis Lam and Eddie Huang, which gets straight to the heart of it.
THE NEW YORK TIMES RESTAURANT REVIEW HAS GONE SOFT.
The Times restaurant review was once the great arbiter of dining taste in America, the final line in ranking New York City’s eateries, and a pace-setter for the rest of the nation’s food scenes. And we like Pete Wells. We really do. But a combination of factors has made the Times reviews less influential and less discerning in recent years than it’s ever been before. The beginning of the end? Peter Meehan leaving the $25 and Under column in 2008 and Frank Bruni leaving the critic’s post in 2009. Meehan, who left to work full time with David Chang on his writing projects, was the last special eye for cheap dining spots the Times had (the $25 and Under column is now gone, replaced by a slightly less adventurous column, Hungry City). Bruni was the last one to tend to the star system as it was meant to be tended to: A one-star restaurant was a solid neighborhood restaurant, and a four-star restaurant was Event Dining.
Once Bruni left, former NYT Culture editor-turned-food critic Sam Sifton started handing out twos and threes like they were going out of style, which was ultimately the effect. What should be the most critical column in the country stopped being critical, and started acting as an advocate, putting its drill bits to the easy targets (Big Box Restaurants, Guy Fieri) and taking a soft touch to anyone who matters. Even Batali and Co. were shocked when Del Posto nabbed four stars from Sifton. Ultimately, those at the Times are of far less importance than theirs predecessors, which may be great for restauranteurs and other food critics, but not for restaurants, diners, and especially the Times.
THE FOOD WORLD IS ON SOME ILLUMINATI SHIT, AND RENE REDZEPI IS PULLING THE STRINGS.
Think about it: First off, he convinced everyone that Scandinavian food doesn’t suck, and that serving live ants in yogurt is the new hotness. Then, he invited all the best chefs and food writers in the world to kick it with him at the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, and everyone came back singing the praises of New Nordic cooking and agreeing that Noma is, in fact, the best restaurant in the whole damn world. And then he shows up in Lucky Peach, the Illuminati food rag run by his reptoid-chef partner-in-crime David Chang, and things just start to look a little bit suspicious, wouldn’t you say? The chumminess of the world’s top chefs, who now share their ideas at conferences and tweet about each other’s restaurants and make TV shows together, is no coincidence. There is a plan. Sooner or later, every tasting menu in the world will be exactly the same, made up of One-World Modernist Fare cooked in industrial-size sous-vide machines out of a central commissary on Mars. Seriously—why else do you think Jay-Z is eating at all these restaurants? OPEN YOUR EYES.
NEW YORK BAGELS ARE TERRIBLE.
Pour out a little liquor for a lost friend, the classic New York bagel. As neighborhoods change—thanks, MTV-driven, youth-styled gentrification—the city’s famous ethnic communities have moved on…and so have their food traditions. Though the NYC-style bagel is now essentially an international brand name—witness how the painfully named Noah’s New York Bagels brings Lower East Side charm to the Pacific Northwest—the reality is that buying a well-boiled, perfectly baked version on the island of Manhattan is increasingly difficult. A year ago, we mourned the demise of H&H, and despite our appreciation of Murray’s, we haven’t found a true replacement. The fact that the most talked about bagel in recent memory is the Montreal-style one sold at Mile End is further proof that the cache of the NY variety has hit rock bottom.
SOME OF THE BEST MEALS IN AMERICA ARE COOKED BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
It won’t be the executive chef, or the chef de cuisine, or even the sous. But go into some of the best kitchens in America, and you’re bound to find more than a few grill cooks, garde manger workers, bakers, and sauciers without their paperwork in order. Why? Because they don’t have any. Here’s the thing about cooking: It’s not easy. But—at all but the highest levels—it’s also not the sole province of highly-educated, highly-skilled individuals. Highly-trained, sure. But open minds—and hard work ethics—transcend socioeconomic lines, and cheap labor is, well, cheap labor. Yet, what credit do illegal immigrants get for your perfectly seared steak frites? A bright future of simply keeping the gig they have, and all the celebrity that comes with keeping the lights on at home for their families.
THE SUSTAINABLE FOOD MOVEMENT IS ONLY RELEVANT TO RICH WHITE PEOPLE.
Isn’t it charming to know the gentleman who foraged the ramps that you’re eating for dinner? Isn’t it glorious to collect, each week, a lovely bundle of locally sourced vegetables from your CSA? Isn’t it delightful that humble practices like canning remind us of simpler times? Yes, of course. But, doesn’t it suck during that time in summer when the CSA dries up and the offerings are super slim? Oh, the horror of eating the same damn thing, all the damn time—welcome to the reality of almost every other American all the time, especially those who live in food deserts without access to fresh produce. The reality is that, while laudable in theory, our nation’s notion of sustainability doesn’t account for all who may wish to participate. Locavorism has become the newest outlet for yuppie guilt, providing a feeling of living ethically and supporting a cause, but too often the onslaught of kale and artisanal pickles blinds us from looking at the deeper problems affecting America’s food system.
TIPPING SHOULD BE ABOLISHED.
At the risk of alienating every server in America, let’s just consider this for a moment: There is, in fact, another way—in fact, most of the world is doing it this other way, and guess what? It doesn’t involve adding 20% to the cost of every single meal you eat out, not to mention to your $14 cocktails. Here are three reasons to consider getting rid of gratuity: 1) Tipping causes everyone a huge amount of social anxiety, and no one really enjoys doing it unless they are Shaq and they hand out hundred dollar bills to busboys just for something to do. 2) If restaurateurs actually paid employees properly, rather than expecting them to subsist on the generosity of others, then we might not hear about another tip-skimming scandal every other day. 3) It’s become so taboo to give bad tips that the standard of service required to earn a run-of-the-mill, 18% tip is actually pretty middling—we’ve lost sight of the fact that a tip is something to be earned by the server, not a social obligation for the diner. Not all wait staff come out of the Danny Meyer Finishing School of Service Excellence, yet all will make you look like Pol Pot reincarnated if you skimp on the tip.
In Japan, being a server is a profession that comes with a wage and a sense of pride. Maybe it’s time for us to cut the nonsense and make honest workers out of our servers, too. And if that doesn’t work, we’re willing to try the plan hatched by Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee: Tip at the beginning of the meal, when you are full of expectation and hope, rather than at the end, when you are left with nothing but aggravation and self-hatred.
NOSTALGIA PROPS UP A LOT OF REALLY, REALLY BAD FOOD.
How many times have you gone to a city, gone to some legendary institution that everyone and their grandparents loves, and left dismayed by how god-awful it was? Some of these spots are tourist traps that know how to pull the wool over your eyes, but others are truly loved—if only by the locals who grew up with them. Food memories are incredibly powerful, causing people with otherwise refined tastes to swoon over corn dogs from the State Fair, or Twinkies, or whatever they ate the first time they saw a pair of bare breasts. And amid the current obsession with heritage and Americana, no one wants to be the dick to take shots at an old classic. But as in other aspects of culture, the constant backwards gaze can be problematic. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are now adults by letting chefs serve us “elevated” (read: more expensive) versions of the same shit we ate when we were 10, but at the end of the day perhaps we’re all just too scared to move on.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN HAS GONE POP.
We don’t want to believe it, trust us. Tony is the renegade that we all needed to counterbalance the rise of the Food Network and the age of the celebrity chef, and he’s provided plenty of entertainment along the way—spitting real talk on No Reservations, writing for Treme, using Paula Deen as a human punching bag, et al. But there are nervous whispers from fans about what will become of Papa Bourdain as the insider-turned-outsider becomes the establishment. With a CNN contract in hand and what appears to be a cookie-cutter cooking competition show with Nigella Lawson about to debut on ABC, this is an important moment for the Bourdain brand.Anyone with that much media exposure risks descending into shtick, and Bourdain himself has told Eaterthat, “It’s when you find yourself answering the questions the same way that you hate yourself.” If this era of Bourdain fame ends up sucking, hopefully it will just turn out to be a brief flirtation with the mainstream, like when Nas dropped Nastradamus, and then he can get back on his Illmatic shit.
ALL WINE MOSTLY TASTES THE SAME.
Look, we’re not going to argue that there aren’t different tastes in wine, or that sophisticated palates can’t discern all levels of flavor notes. But most people just drink wine because they know what it tastes like: Wine. And everything the general public is sold on after that is part physiological fast-pitch, part marketing: Those notes of oak, chocolate, raspberry, and Argentine sunshine? To most of the world, they don’t exist. At least not until we buy into them.
MOST SUSHI RESTAURANTS IN AMERICA STAY IN BUSINESS BY SERVING MISLABELED FISH AND RIDICULOUS ROLLS THAT HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED IN JAPAN.
Many people have deep veneration for Japanese food, as they should—it is among the most nuanced, technique-driven cuisines in the world. But that maki combo you’re getting for $10.99 with a side of miso soup and a struggle salad? That is to real Japanese food what the T.G.I. Friday’s Molten Chocolate Lava Cake is to Jean-George Vongerichten. Most of it is made by people who are not from Japan and don’t have any real training, but that’s not the real problem—the real problem is that most of the fish is farmed, frozen crap, and a lot of it isn’t even labeled correctly. According to the nonprofit watchdog organization Oceana, most of that red snapper sushi is actually tilapia. The halibut is hake. The “wild” salmon is farmed. Let’s all make a resolution to call cheap sushi what it is—i.e., a guilty pleasure—rather than pretending that mayo-slathered spicy tuna rolls are healthy or refined in any way.
FOIE GRAS IS NOT WORTH FIGHTING FOR (OR AGAINST).
Here are some things worth fighting for related to food: Making nutrition accessible for young, elderly, and lower-income Americans. Making sure America’s factory farms stop polluting our food with something only slightly less noxious than Soylent Green. Greater transparency in food labeling. Reducing the monopolistic influence held by agriculture monoliths like Monsanto. Reducing hunger around the world, let alone among those who live in food deserts in America. What’s not important? Foie gras. For those against foie: In order to be able to one day defend animals, let alone humans, we should probably take care of the aforementioned issues first, unless you consider the matter of hungry Americans not eating or obese Americans swelling into Laz-Y-Boy sized flesh amoebas to be of lesser importance. And for those in favor of foie? Get over it, like you should have two years ago. Foie gras has been dumbed down and overused by bad chefs whose work is proliferated by idiots with too much money and not enough taste.They’re the reason chefs think they can get away with shaving truffles onto shitty burgers or mac and cheese and charging $75 for it. You wanna be one of those chefs (or diners)? No. And hey, if Chicago and California can do great dining without foie gras, so can [Insert Your City Here]. Whether you consider it a challenge to be stepped up to, or background noise you need to drown out, the fight over foie has got to go.
THE FOOD WORLD IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE ASIANS GET RESPECT AS CELEBRITIES IN AMERICA.
This one’s less about the food world than it is about the rest of the world outside of food. For example, when Jeremy Lin became a sensation, it was precisely that: The Spectacle of an Asian-American Playing Basketball, exceptional as a sideshow of its own. How many major Asian-American film or television stars can you count, and how long has it taken that handful to permeate the mainstream? What about politicians on a national scale? And yet: In America’s food culture, an Asian-American cooking exceptional food is patently unexceptional nowadays, as they (David Chang, Danny Bowien, et al) have taken the place of the French and the Italians as the standard-setters for the rest of the world. Simply look to New Yorkmagazine’s noxious and continued use of the words “Asian Hipster Cuisine” to describe a current crop of New York City restaurants and who it’s made by: An ethnicity within an ethnicity!
TASTING MENUS AND MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY ARE TOO OFTEN THE DOMAIN OF CHARLATANS.
Food, like any other vibrant part of this thing we call Culture, needs an avant-garde. It needs its provocateurs, its auteurs, and its envelope-pushers—comfort food already has enough of a stranglehold on the American dining public, so any chef who chooses to make a sea-urchin foam instead of a double cheeseburger gets at least a modicum of respect in our book. But having balls doesn’t mean you deserve our hard-earned paychecks, and all too often the chefs serving 26 one-bite courses are no better than the phonies selling people $50,000 painting of Kim Jong-Il with an afro at Art Basel (sadly, the customer is often the same—mooks with more money than taste).
If these chefs are all so creative and independent-minded, how is that they alldecide that spherification and serving food on rocks would be awesome? And if the chef at that hot new chef’s counter in the back of a bodega just came up with the menu today while hunting-and-gathering along the side of the freeway, how the hell does he know that it is going to be worth $190?
So yeah, like we said: Food needs people working with hydrocolloids and centrifuges in the name of progress. But as in art, only a tiny portion of the avant-garde is really worth celebrating. For every Ferran Adrià and Grant Achatz, there’s an army of CIA grads waiting to sell you reductionist bullshit so that they can pay off their student loans.
ANONYMOUS CRITICS DON’T EXIST ANYMORE, AND MOST FOOD WRITERS (AND THEIR PUBLICATIONS) DON’T PAY FOR THEIR MEALS.
Which came first, the shady critic, or the shady Yelp reviewer? No matter, they’re both the same thing: Amateur extortionists for food. And thanks to the Internet’s make-or-break power in those crucial first few months of a restaurant being open, the asses of anyone with a decent-sized bullhorn are being kissed by cooks, chefs, restaurant flacks, and GMs around the country. It’s understandable—they don’t want to see their hard work toppled by some blogger who didn’t like being seated in Siberia, let alone a reviewer with a shred of credibility—but it’s fundamentally changed the game. Factor in the inability of critics to hide from Google Images searches (shouts to Ryan Sutton) and the desperate need for all writers to fashion themselves into some sort of brand, and you have the perfect ingredients to cook up an insipid Writer-Restaurant Industrial Complex whose tastes should only be trusted as far as their receipts extend.
NOT EVERY COUNTRY’S CUISINE IS WORTH CELEBRATING.
The cool thing about Andrew Zimmern is that he will stuff anything into his mug, even if it’s slippery, slimy, or still alive. He’s exposed millions to unfamiliar and wonderful cuisine through his program Bizarre Foods, allowing many once marginalized foods to have their moment in the sun. But let’s turn the tables though, shall we? Some of those cuisines have been ignored by old-school foodies for a reason. Not every region has the proper environment for raising delicious animals or producing tasty vegetables, let alone the luxury of creatively preparing the meager fruits of the local land. Yes, food is always a lens into other cultures—the way people prepare and produce is integral to shared value systems. Celebrate that idea. Don’t bother telling us that everyone’s food is worth trying though. We’d rather eat something delicious than be politically correct.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS AN EVERYDAY OCCURRENCE AT SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS.
It’s well-established that the service industry attracts a wide swath of miscreants to its ranks. Throw in hot kitchens, stocked bars, the potential for fame, and a bunch of brusque egos, and you’re bound to incubate some pretty bad shit. So it goes: Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant can no doubt tell you of the time they either saw sexual harassment or were a target of it. And if they can’t, then they were probably the ones doing the harassing. Have a complaint? You’ll likely be seen as unable to take the heat when a kitchen is “in the weeds,” as it were. Though they’re primarily the instigator of it—simply because of the existing patriarchy—this pervasive problem doesn’t stem exclusively from men: Sexual harassment in restaurants is an equal opportunity for all genders. If you are, in fact, a hardliner against uncomfortable working conditions, you might want to avoid eating out at restaurants…period.
TEX-MEX IS OFTEN BETTER THAN AUTHENTIC MEXICAN.
Why do we, in food media, discount so heartily Americanized ethnic foods? Many bastard cuisines, from red-sauce Italian to Americanized Chinese food, deserve more praise for the distinct styles of cooking they’ve become. Tex Mex is so often looked down upon by the fooderati for its reliance on cheese, sauce, and beans. SO FUCKING WHAT? Go ahead and look down on a combo meal for being heavy, then go stuff your face with Frédéric Morin’s version of the double down at Joe Beef. That’s right—you are a hypocritical glutton! Sorry, we’ve become violent… The point here is not to fight fire with fire, but rather to suggest that Tex Mex is worth vaulting into the pantheon of real American food. Ever had a fajita in San Antonio? That shit is transcendental. And no amount of Rick Bayless can stop it.
THE HIGH-MINDED GLUTTONY PROMOTED BY FOOD WRITERS IS JUST AS UNHEALTHY AS THE AVERAGE AMERICAN DIETS THEY RAIL AGAINST.
Dig in, devour, inhale: these are the preferred verbs of the voracious modern food critic, the diner-with-a-pen who champions offal and duck fat (as long as its sustainably sourced) and hasn’t mentioned a fresh vegetable since that time they visited Stone Barns. Let’s face it, contemporary food media preaches an overindulgence that far outweighs the occasional trip to the Golden Arches. They write with lusty veneration about quivering pork belly and lobes of foie gras, penning epic odes to multicourse meals that sound like they could have taken place in Henry VI’s banquet hall. This is all fine—after all, pork belly is MAD GOOD. However, in upholding gluttonous feasting as the height of enlightened dining, those with a voice present a hierarchy in which people with money to blow on artisanal fat-kid food are somehow superior to poor souls stuck at Arby’s, taking in the same amount of calories and cholesterol for $5.99. Does local, organic grub negate the notion of greed entirely? Props to any critic who has the cajones to promote responsible eating and sensible portions in 2013.
BROOKLYN’S HYPED FOOD SCENE WILL TURN THE BOROUGH INTO MANAHATTAN, PART DEUX.
Hello, Brooklyn. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but beneath your beautifully designed labels lurk some of the worst aspects of American culture, in which all that was once good and genuine is repackaged by yuppies for commercial gain. We’re not going to go on a Josh Ozersky–style rant here and say that the entire borough is overrated and under-baked—great restaurants, talented chefs, and earnest makers of things are to be celebrated. We’re just saying, be careful. With schmancy tasting menus and avant-garde outposts cropping up where once there were scrappy mom-and-pop shops, the transformation of Brooklyn into an extension of Manhattan is hard to deny. And Ozersky got something right when he pointed out the most hyped food in Kings County has become a “veritable case study of conformity.” Over the past decade, Brooklyn’s become a great place to sow seeds of the nation’s food ideas, freed from the shackles of Manhattan’s real-estate prices. But if all that comes out of this is something that you can sell back to Manhattanites, wouldn’t that be a sad end to the tale? With the eyes of the world on you now, and everyone from Parisians to Texans jocking your steez, it’s time to remember what made Brooklyn great in the first place.