ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › What's the deal with New York trained chefs?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What's the deal with New York trained chefs?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
First off, I'm a pastry chef, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I've encountered two New York trained chefs over the last few years and I am amazed how similar they are.

The scenario: I work in restaurants south of San Francisco. Good places, but not sexy SF restaurants. As a result, our staff is all Latino, hard working, but not well trained. This is not their passion and career, this is a way to send some money home.

New York chef takes over. Here are the apparent management philosophies of these guys. (Learned in NYC?)

1. All cooks are expendable.
2. I will not train anyone.
3. I will not bother to learn any Spanish.
4. I will yell at the cooks, if they don't seem to understand it's either because they're lazy, or the classic "they understand me they just don't want to follow my orders".
5. I have a million stories from back in the day which usually involve 45-150 days straight without a day off, working 3 stations at once. (believable?)
6. I make GREAT food, but no one else seems to be able to replicate it.
7. I will never write down a recipe for the staff to follow.

This style works in NYC where you have a stream of qualified people coming through the door, but what about here? I think it's pretty stupid.

CONTROVERSIAL STATEMENT: NY training makes you into a fantastic cook, but not a good manager. You are taught to NOT think. Just do. Great for NY, terrible for situations that don't fit that mold.
post #2 of 20
Please do not think that those jerks are the norm in NY. Well, maybe for some CIA-trained* jerks ;) , but not for anyone I've ever worked with over the last 7 years. Or me, come to think of it (NY Restaurant School, A.O.S., 1996).

My guess is that they went out west because their behavior didn't -- couldn't possibly -- cut it here. Because it WOULD NOT, in just about any kitchen. NY is just the same as anywhere else: you need to find the needles of hard workers in the haystack of jerkoffs; there is definitely NOT a huge pool of well-trained people here, any more than there is anywhere else. You need to recognize the good guys, no matter what language they speak. And so a chef MUST know how to manage, same as everywhere else. Please don't blame those clowns on anyplace or anything other than their own sorry selves.

Please don't hate us here. :( Those idiots are NOT New York's fault; only their own. :mad:

Edit: * Is that what you mean? S***heads from CIA? They are NOT from NY; they are from their own egos, exclusively. There are a lot of other places in New York, city and state, where one can get good training and NOT end up a flaming whatever.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
Reply
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
Reply
post #3 of 20
I was hoping Suzanne would take the lead on this.

Tom,

I agree with her statements %100.

Please if you have time go down to the pastry forums and look around. A # of our esteemed pastry people are/have worked in the great city of New York.

The sediment you talked of by the chefs your dealing with really is the exception,not the norm.

W.Debord.......any thoughts?
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Reply
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Reply
post #4 of 20
I agree! Well, half-way.

I think training to become a cook can be so narrow in focus, that the management side is often neglected.

So, yes, there are absolutely fantastic cooks out there, but they can't manage a one-car funeral without screwing it up (and laying blame on somebody else!) I just don't think the problem is New York-centric.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

Reply
post #5 of 20
I received most of my training in NYC, and have worked with lots of jerks! I also trained under some wonderful chefs, who turned out to be great teachers. Many of the jerks I worked with weren't from NY at all. They were mostly European, coincidentally, with one exception. Anyway, big cities, being so competitive, probably breeds jerkiness in certain people, New Yorkers or not.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your responses. Why are the jerky chefs coming to SF area? Do they have a chip on their shoulder? The other funny thing is the NY chefs I was discussing often say "we would never do this in New York" or "This is not how it's done in New York". My rather unpopular response is last time I checked, we're not IN New York!!
post #7 of 20
Why do they go to SF? Because it's a great area with great restaurants! :D Where they feel they should be appreciated. :mad: :p

Again, they are NOT representative. One of the problems in our industry is that there are so many "legends in their own minds." Unfortunately, that stupid attitude does seem to be encouraged among attendees of a certain training institution somewhere up from the mouth of the Hudson River (no, I do NOT mean Sing Sing :lol: ). Whether the institution itself fosters that attitude, I don't know; I didn't go there. However, the media certainly do, and by extension those who believe whatever someone tells them.

BTW: have you ever considered that they might just be SAYING they are "from NY" because they think that will impress the western rubes and fill you with awe? :confused:

Repeat after me: "I will not let these jerks get under my skin." ;)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
Reply
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
Reply
post #8 of 20
This attitude you discribe is not only coming from Chef's out of NYC. You can find chef's like that all over, though the majority tend to come from larger cities, especially those with hot food scenes, such as New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Vegas, LA, Seattle, and yes, even San Francisco. Spend enough time in those scenes, and many chefs let it go to their heads. In Chicago, it was some of the ex-California chefs that used to drive me nuts, going on and on and on, about what great produce and seafood they could get out there and nothing in Chicago can compare and that the West coast seafood, far surpasses the East coast for flavor and freshness and on and on. Though I have had the misfortune to meet such chefs from most cities across the US. The up side to this is that these types chefs are in the vast minority. For every big-headed meglomaniac there are 100 level headed chefs, who treat their people right, and put out a great product.
post #9 of 20
The only thing I can add to these esteemed comments is that there are big dumb, self centered jerks in every city on the globe.

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #10 of 20
Hey Pete speaking of big heads,did anybody see date plate on the foodnet last night??
post #11 of 20

big head syndrome`

i think alot of these prick chefs you speak of will act like this no mater where they are from. i think you have problems especialy w these newyorker chefs simply because they think they come from the pinacle of everything culinary. i have met my share of chefs like this and i have devised from most of them that they either can't roll like they used to,,,, or they think by teaching others their methods and knowledge they will no longer be usefull. most bad a s s chefs out there want to pass their knowledge on to their people, no matter what language they speak, but some just don't have the self confidence to let their employees become as good as they are.
post #12 of 20
Now that I've gotten out and around to more kitchens my general opinion of the current breed of chefs is AUE. Perhaps all the bad apples desided to move to SF.
Sure I've come across some real losers over the years (and have talked about it TOOOOO much here). I've currently ran into several young ones that think their s___ doesn't stink and they can do no wrong since they attended CHIC or some other junior college. But they all get humilated eventually.........love to see them burn something (everyone in the kitchen notices).

I haven't seen anyone bragging about what town they're from though..........
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
post #13 of 20

There you go! You done burst my bubble!

Awww, shucks, Ma'am.....

Sincerely, Peachcreek.
Western Rube.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
Reply
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
Reply
post #14 of 20
Hey Pete , I like what you said about California chefs as I used to be one . I have resided in Reno Nevada for the last 11 years and have seen a few of the big shot chefs from Europe to N.Y. and in my opinion it realy does not matter . Your true self will show and then its showtime ! Also from what I have seen of the western farmers , the best produce seems to be shipped east . Must have something to do with supply , demand , and profit . Remember no matter how many stories these chefs can tell about there past in the big city , it is always here and now, so if you talk the talk then walk the walk ! later , Doug ....................................
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
Reply
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
Reply
post #15 of 20
Funny i thought the midwest had the best produce.....at least in the past few years it rivals most. And I'm a Cal girl.:p ;)
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #16 of 20
1. All cooks are expendable.

Not just in NY. This is a philosophy that is widespread throughout the culinary field ESPECIALLY in a sh!tty economy (like the one we're in now) because replacement staff are easy to come by. This is the "interchangeable part" mentality - implying that no one brings anything "special" to the party. I think it's sad, no matter what industry is practicing it. (It's not just relegated to the food industry - finance is a big offender here, too.)


2. I will not train anyone.

If not the reality, the fantasy is that EVERY cook has the same degree of training as the chef. Again, not exclusive to NY. That's an individual characteristic of each chef. Again, an unfortunate one. No chef can blame a cook for not doing something to his/her satisfaction if the cook was never shown how he/she wanted it done.


3. I will not bother to learn any Spanish.

Before I comment on this - I'm a firm believer that if you choose to leave your native country to live where they don't speak your language - you should learn the language of the land you chose to make your home. If I moved to France, I could lobby my head off for having street signs in English and I wouldn't get very far. Having said that, it's definitely wise to learn enough Spanish (or at least some important phrases) to run the kitchen. Contrary to what a chef might believe, his/her ignorance of the native tongue of the kitchen staff will not miraculously enable them to speak English. Again, not relegated to a NY attitude. DH worked at a respected resort here in FL and the new head chef was French. You guessed it - he knew not a syllable of Spanish. This in a state that is surrounded by Hispanic lands! P.S. Lots of NY Chefs already know Spanish because NY has its share of hispanic immigrants.


4. I will yell at the cooks, if they don't seem to understand it's either because they're lazy, or the classic "they understand me they just don't want to follow my orders".

That's everywhere. That's just the restaurant business. No Chef's resume lists "patience" in his/her toolbox. I've worked in plenty of kitchens in the US where chefs barked and swore liberally. None of them were from NY or ever worked in NY.


5. I have a million stories from back in the day which usually involve 45-150 days straight without a day off, working 3 stations at once. (believable?)

Possibly embellished but certainly fathomable. If a restaurant in Pig's Knuckle, Arkansas is down two stations, that third guy is going to work his butt off. DH has a couple of those stories and he's never worked in NY. (Happens when other line cooks get drunk or call in ...ahem...sick.) Work in the restaurant industry long enough and those stories will pile up...no matter the geographic location.


6. I make GREAT food, but no one else seems to be able to replicate it.
and
7. I will never write down a recipe for the staff to follow.

True of any chef (from anywhere) who may have learned at their grandmother's elbow (like Marcus Samuelsson) or learned from a chef who cooked in a similar fashion. Some people would rather have root canal than write down a recipe. HOWEVER, he/she has no one but him/herself to blame when a kitchen crew can't replicate the food. DH and I have noticed that restaurants seem to have a revolving door policy on kitchen staff. The successful ones, the ones to which diners return time and time again, use recipes. No matter how much kitchen turnover there is, to the diner it's seamless. The diner may believe the same three guys could be cooking at the restaurant for the last 20 years - at least that's what it should taste like. In reality, no one lasts more than two months. This was true of one of our favorite places in s.w. Colorado. We could not believe the kitchen turnover (we were friends with some of the cooks) but the food remained consistently excellent.

When DH and I had a restaurant, we wrote down recipes - especially helpful in newly formulated recipes. This ensures a predictable, reliable outcome every time a dish is prepared. It also helped in case the originator of the recipe (he or I) could not prepare the recipe any particular day.

And by the way, I'm from NY.
Food is sex for the stomach.
Reply
Food is sex for the stomach.
Reply
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, I guess I would like to broaden my question a little bit. Why does this industry have such a poor record of training quality people? Clearly the jerk chefs that I portrayed are getting ahead - because their style mirrors the kitchens of 19th century France. Here we are in the 21st century. When will our industry move to at least 20th century notions of good management principles.

High turnover? I guess owners think the chef is being active and taking charge, but I have never seen an article in a trade magazine that says "High turnover - your key to higher profits".

Also, not learing Spanish? Gimme a break. If you employ illegal immigrants, and take advantage of the artificially low wages that they demand, you need to make some allowances. I know some of you will not like this word, but exploitation comes to mind. Being cruel to someone who has no real choice, can't understand the language and is here to make an honest buck? That's exploitation.

I welcome you all to help me make some sense of this industry mired in the 19th century.
post #18 of 20
Yes it does! We have wonderful produce here. The new wave of immigrant farmers has introduced us to different types of produce and even livestock! :)

Kuan
post #19 of 20
Well you sound like the old me, ps. I'm a pastry chef too. Well perhaps you need to do as I did (and that took along time), get out and about. There's places that are in the current century.

You know, sometimes it's the sqeakie wheel that gets the oil. Perhaps there's a little cross over to how chefs are hired. Acting like a great chef seems to fool some people........owners and managers can be some of the easiest to fool. They are often seeking a quick fix or a life saver to rescue a situation that they themselves aren't fixing or have created.

Also, it's not the chefs that are hiring the illegal workers, it starts and ends with the name signing the pay check.

As long as there are people willing to work for less money or to fill the empty positions, nothing will change. Thank-god for foodtv, they are getting more legal workers interested in the business and glamorizing culinary educations. Alot of kids will get burned out of tution but in the long run I think it's really going to greatly help our profession.

And........one more ignorant post from me......frankly alot of the illegal workers that work strickly for a pay check and don't have any emotional ties to being a cook (like you mentioned earilier) are heading for the construction field....alot better pay and hours.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
post #20 of 20
Hey shroomgirl , I was not dissing the midwests produce . I am only saying that the best of the produce which I see grown out here is generally shipped east . I myself buy my produce from the locals farmers market every thursday . I love the banter , the discussions , and just the plain old love we have for real food !
But shroomgirl , as you know , the best part is those California girls . You know how they dress ( or do not ) during the heat of summer . I wish they all could be California girls ( Beachboys ).
And you are from where my friend ?
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
Reply
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › What's the deal with New York trained chefs?