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Chef Sell Out? or....

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

This should start a good conversation....

 

http://www.chow.com/food-news/108267/why-chefs-sell-out/

post #2 of 20

I think Anthony Bourdain said it best when he said he'd throw his ankles right up behind his ears for the right price. It's a nice sound byte to say your never going to sell out but very few manage to make a real living that way. I got a good laugh considering the site that published your link. They tried to get me to go to their SFO office a few times to do a video.

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #3 of 20

Being broke for the sake of principles is stupid.(unless you are dealing with illegal money) I am a African American Corporate Chef, I work 5 days a week and run 6 kitchens in a busy airport I work VERY hard. But, I am home at night with my wife, I can enjoy a weekend away, and whenever I want, I can cook at home to satisfy my creative side.

 

The reason I mentioned that I was black is this point, I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Oakland CA, and I can tell you this...NOBODY WANTS to live in the ghetto, I spent half my life trying to get out! To live in a rough neighborhood because I didn't want to "sell out", to not be able to take my wife on a vacation, be able to sustain a relationship ( there's a reason the divorce rate is so high, there's actually a blog to support the wives of chefs!) because someone might think I sold out is insane.

 

But you can some it up with one sentence...principles don't pay bills.

post #4 of 20

Why is it a sell out to make an honest living the best you know how? Setting high standards for yourself is a good thing, but when it gets in the way of supporting your family, you become an object of ridicule anyway. 

I think it shows a kind of narrow mindedness to believe that the only way to be an accomplished cook or chef is to work in a restaurant. The culinary world is really big, with lots of opportunity and lots of very skilled people working in operations other than restos. 

Actually, some of the better cooks I've known got even better after leaving food service. 

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post #5 of 20

Selling out?  Poor choice of words I think.

post #6 of 20

Good article.  For a number of years now I've called myself a "sell-out" chef and I've called myself that proudly.  I have no doubt that, with my training and resume, I could of, at one time, launched a very "successful" chef career, but instead I chose to re-prioritize my life and I put my family first.  Now I have most of my nights and weekends off and get to spend time with my wife and daughter.  My job isn't glamorous, or even very creative, but it is challenging and those perks I just mentioned are well worth it.

 

I have known many, many chefs in my life and I don't think I ever heard one say that if they had it to do all over again they would work more hours, spend more time in the restaurant, or give more of themselves to the industry.  But I have known many older chefs who would have choosen to spend more time with their family.  I'm not going to be one of those guys.

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #7 of 20



  "Certainly, anytime anyone gets up in the morning earlier than one would like, drags oneself across town to do things one wouldn't ordinarily do in one's leisure time for people one doesn't particularly like - that could be selling out, whether that activity involves working in a coal mine, heating up macaroni and cheese at Popeye's, or giving tug jobs to strangers in the back of a strip club. To my mind, they are all morally equivalent. (You do what you've got to do to get by.) While there is a certain stigma attached to.... - because, perhaps, of particularly Western concepts of intimacy and religion - how different, how much worse, or more "wrong," is it than plunging toilets, hosing down a slaughterhouse floor, burning off polyps, or endorsing Diet Coke? Who - given more options, better choices - would do any of those things?
  Who in this world gets to do only what they want - and what they feel is consistent with their principals - and get paid for it?

-Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guts View Post




  "Certainly, anytime anyone gets up in the morning earlier than one would like, drags oneself across town to do things one wouldn't ordinarily do in one's leisure time for people one doesn't particularly like - that could be selling out, whether that activity involves working in a coal mine, heating up macaroni and cheese at Popeye's, or giving tug jobs to strangers in the back of a strip club. To my mind, they are all morally equivalent. (You do what you've got to do to get by.) While there is a certain stigma attached to.... - because, perhaps, of particularly Western concepts of intimacy and religion - how different, how much worse, or more "wrong," is it than plunging toilets, hosing down a slaughterhouse floor, burning off polyps, or endorsing Diet Coke? Who - given more options, better choices - would do any of those things?

  Who in this world gets to do only what they want - and what they feel is consistent with their principals - and get paid for it?


-Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw

Really great quote by bourdain. Makes us remember why he's so relevant in the first place. Nail on the head...
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodnfoto View Post

Why is it a sell out to make an honest living the best you know how? Setting high standards for yourself is a good thing, but when it gets in the way of supporting your family, you become an object of ridicule anyway. 

I think it shows a kind of narrow mindedness to believe that the only way to be an accomplished cook or chef is to work in a restaurant. The culinary world is really big, with lots of opportunity and lots of very skilled people working in operations other than restos. 

Actually, some of the better cooks I've known got even better after leaving food service. 



You would be surprised the number of "Chefs" who wear their career like a badge of courage on the shoulder........with quite a large chip there as well.

If you didn't graduate from so and so, you are nothing, if you didn't cook at this place or that place, then I have no use for you. If you are not a line cook with years and years of experience, burns, multiple healed over cuts, a bad back, and feet, then you have no right to comment, no right to an opinion and certainly no right to change anything. (said tongue in cheek of course....)

 

Is it a sell out to take all that knowledge, all that experience and go to work somewhere beneath your level of expertise just so you can have a somewhat descent life?

Many think so. Especially the younger ones who are just starting out as they don't quite yet grasp the whole picture.  If a person is going to have a career for the express purpose of fame and fortune then they are fooling themselves. I agree with Mr. Bourdain's philosophy.

post #10 of 20

While I tend to agree with Mr. Bourdain's assertions, I find them offensive and coarse. I'm no prude, but jeez, it it any wonder why most of the population views food service pros as being low-class?

 

I've known quite a few of those chefs ChefRoss-hired and fired plenty of them when I worked in food service. Boy, they're just way too above it all aren't they?

 

Ultimately, such snobbery and derision for those who use their culinary talents in other ways is a young person's luxury. I think it hides a deep insecurity-they may be gods in their own kitchens, but it's still a kingdom of grease, heat and slop sinks. Ultimately, what ever magnificence you put on a plate today gets served up again tomorrow in rather inglorious fashion. 


Edited by foodnfoto - 3/17/12 at 9:31am

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post #11 of 20

"what ever you magnificence you put on a plate today gets served up again tomorrow in rather inglorious fashion."

This, I don't get.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post



You would be surprised the number of "Chefs" who wear their career like a badge of courage on the shoulder........with quite a large chip there as well.

If you didn't graduate from so and so, you are nothing, if you didn't cook at this place or that place, then I have no use for you. If you are not a line cook with years and years of experience, burns, multiple healed over cuts, a bad back, and feet, then you have no right to comment, no right to an opinion and certainly no right to change anything. (said tongue in cheek of course....)

 

Is it a sell out to take all that knowledge, all that experience and go to work somewhere beneath your level of expertise just so you can have a somewhat descent life?

Many think so. Especially the younger ones who are just starting out as they don't quite yet grasp the whole picture.  If a person is going to have a career for the express purpose of fame and fortune then they are fooling themselves. I agree with Mr. Bourdain's philosophy.


Yeah, except no one is paying those chef's hundred's of thousands/millions of dollars to endorse anything. It's all well and good to have a stance, but easy to do so when no one is offering you a chance to go against it. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Guts View Post

"what ever you magnificence you put on a plate today gets served up again tomorrow in rather inglorious fashion."

This, I don't get.


He's talking about ***t. The food, no matter if it is from Thomas Keller or Burger King, is coming out tomorrow as ***t. 

 

Mod note:  Please watch the language.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post


Yeah, except no one is paying those chef's hundred's of thousands/millions of dollars to endorse anything.



 I'd expect Rick Bayless was well paid for his endorsement by the Five Star range company. Then there's Chef Marcus for Bluestar. Etc ad nauseum.

 I'd also expect Batali and Wolfgang Puck made not only millions but several million per year hawking cookware, frozen meals, canned food etc. Many would indeed consider that "selling out". Then again Batali did just settle a 5.25 Million dollar lawsuit for taking a % of staff tips so perhaps we should give him a pass as he apparently needed the money far more than those who work for him.

As much as I like AB's snark it is truly comical listening to him talk about "selling out". When Kitchen Confidential came out it was the epitome of selling out.

On a separate note I'm sure any one of us could drop enough F bombs in a single sentence to make Gordon Ramsy blush however it doesn't take a lot of intellect to do so. It seems there are those who are fairly new to Chef Talk that could learn to use the strategic placement of a few well placed *'s. There is no need to be obtuse (even if you are quoting) as those who post in this sub-forum are intelligent enough to grasp the point.

 

 

Dave

 

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #14 of 20

 

Quote:
"He's talking about ***t. The food, no matter if it is from Thomas Keller or Burger King, is coming out tomorrow as ***t. "


That was my first instinct, but the choice of words ultimately led me to doubt myself. Thanks for the clarification, haha.
 

 

Quote:
"As much as I like AB's snark it is truly comical listening to him talk about "selling out". When Kitchen Confidential came out it was the epitome of selling out."


If you read Medium Raw, you'll see that he addresses EXACTLY that, totally calls himself out (not that anyone hadn't done it before).

 

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post



 I'd expect Rick Bayless was well paid for his endorsement by the Five Star range company. Then there's Chef Marcus for Bluestar. Etc ad nauseum.

 I'd also expect Batali and Wolfgang Puck made not only millions but several million per year hawking cookware, frozen meals, canned food etc. Many would indeed consider that "selling out". Then again Batali did just settle a 5.25 Million dollar lawsuit for taking a % of staff tips so perhaps we should give him a pass as he apparently needed the money far more than those who work for him.

As much as I like AB's snark it is truly comical listening to him talk about "selling out". When Kitchen Confidential came out it was the epitome of selling out.

On a separate note I'm sure any one of us could drop enough F bombs in a single sentence to make Gordon Ramsy blush however it doesn't take a lot of intellect to do so. It seems there are those who are fairly new to Chef Talk that could learn to use the strategic placement of a few well placed *'s. There is no need to be obtuse (even if you are quoting) as those who post in this sub-forum are intelligent enough to grasp the point.

 

 

Dave

 



Uh, not sure what point you are trying to make is.

 

I was talking about the chefs who are complaining about other chefs selling out...i.e. the chefs who call Mario, Marcus, Bayless, Puck, etc. "sellouts" are only able and willing to do so because no one is waving a big fat check in their face. It's easy to call someone else a sellout when your own beliefs are never put to the test.

 

I'd probably endorse just about anything for a million dollars (or less, even) as long as it wasn't something absolutely abhorrent like, say, child prostitution or something like that. But a chicken sandwich? Hell yeah. Of course I would. 

 

I'd be really surprised to hear of a documented, verifiable story in which a chef turned down a boatload of money on some sort of ethical or moral ground. And I'm not talking about someone who already has millions in the bank..maybe they can pick and choose. Mario can turn down Calphanon because he already gets paid from All-Clad, or whatever. That's not what I mean. I doubt there are (m)any cases out there of that. 

 

Lol, seriously...you can't say the "s" word. Hey whatever...didn't think that would be a big deal among the pro. chefs...I suspect most of us hear/say worse on a daily basis, or at least used to. 

post #16 of 20

I don't know guys, AB has another new show on the Travel Channel, and is laughing all the way to the bank.

Sellout????

Chef Charlie Trotter of his namesake restaurant in Chicago is leaving the culinary world and closing his place in August of this year to pursue a degree in Psychology.

 

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday

Lol, seriously...you can't say the "s" word. Hey whatever...didn't think that would be a big deal among the pro. chefs...I suspect most of us hear/say worse on a daily basis, or at least used to. 


I would have thought it was obvious I was not talking about the s* word (asterisk was in front of the S) but perhaps what you are missing is that there appears to have been some appropriate editing done by the mods.  ;)

Back to the topic at hand.

Excluding other Chef's from not being "sell outs" based on personal wealth doesn't really work from my perspective. If I create a set of Caveats I can manipulate a point one way or the other very easy.  No one is offering Million dollar deals to any one other than the star Chef's who in many cases are already wealthy. If one of them turns down a Million dollar deal because it violates their ethics or beliefs it's just as germane as the Chef who refuses to pimp out for a few bucks or just for self promotion.

I'm sure we'd both agree that the vast majority of us have a price point where ethics or pride start to wain.

AB may now be embracing the thought of selling out (for the sake of selling another book). However that's after being (arguably) one of the biggest sell outs himself. Lets not forget that he waxed poetic about NOT being a sell out for many years. He has in essence written himself right into the perverbial corner where he had little choice other than to embrace it.

There were far better Chef's than AB that he banged away on for years (getting well paid to do so).

 

 

Dave

 


Edited by DuckFat - 3/18/12 at 7:05am
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
post #18 of 20

those are my principles...if you don't like them, i have others!!!!! smoking.gif

joey

 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #19 of 20

I think it's very easy to claim that you would or wouldn't do something, as long as no one is asking you to do or don't do that something. I won't use, prepare or serve foie gras or veal. That's me, my standards. Nobody has ever yet offered me enough $$$ to use, prepare or serve foie gras or veal. If that time ever comes when the right $$$ amount is offered, and I don't really know what that amount is, I've got no question that I'll take it. $$$ changes a lot of things, whether we're willing to admit that it does is another thing. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #20 of 20

In another world, we could all puruse our skills and crafts with our own devotion for excellence guiding us.  Sadly, we don't love there.  Filthy lucre drives everything.   I want out.

DD

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