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Old school vs. 'New' school chefs - Page 3

post #61 of 81

The old vs. new is more about the personality issue then work ethic.

 

By and large cooking technique, irrespective of the new tools and equipment of the modern kitchen, have changed little.

Chicken noodle soup recipe in  1943 is still made the same way today. (lol except no chicken base....ha-ha...)

 

Be mindful that cooks working their way up in 50'-60's and 70's were exposed to working conditions different then ours now.

The Chefs that ran those places also grew up through the system and were hardened by being abused, yelled at, slapped, burned, etc.....

Normal human nature would explain why this temperament was continued and passed on to the next generation of cooks.

 

Today culinary schools and the like, push teamwork and responsibility, changing the culture of the kitchen from one of a hierarchy to a democracy where cooks have input and ideas are exchanged to a certain degree. While a Chef is in charge, getting feedback from staff, and growing is a good thing.

post #62 of 81


Chef Ross is right Example  way back in the early 60s I worked at a very exclusive hotel in New York. It was around St .Patrick's day and my job for the day was to cook the corned beefs. They were simmering away in 2 of the huge steam kettles and I decided to test them for doneness. I proceeded to get the huge pitchfork that was standing by the kettle. All of a sudden the chef a famous Frenchman ran up to me from the other side of the kitchen screaming"":Never stab the meat test with you fingers" From that day on I NEVER stuck anything into any type of meat while cooking ""He was correct.  That's how you learned .

                                               That my friends was old school !!

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #63 of 81

I'm trying to picture that pitchfork.  

post #64 of 81
I have been thinking about this and I am pretty certain that there are going to be a lot of regional differences. In my market, which is urban but small, the old guard of fine dinning is largely stemming from three or four highly successful and charismatic chefs. You can really see the style they imbued in their former apprentices, there is a real trickle down in around here. For us, I would say the new school is generation breaking away from these building blocks.

Some more general shifts I think are worth noting

I think more chefs are less interested in working in hotels and more traditional large "grand" dining rooms, in favour of more smaller, quirky spots.

Technique is now considered more important then repertoire.

Chefs tend to define their cooking by some sort of ethical or philosophic label rather than cuisine.

Chefs are becoming more and more "self taught", that is to say, learning new to them technique via online research and experimentation than by being shown by either a chef or instructor. This has lead to "reach/grasp" issues, but also a much more open and sharing community.
post #65 of 81


KUAN In those days you used a boat oar to stir the soup in the kettles there was no stainless steel paddles. A pitchfork to take things out of kettle from the bottom, and a shovel to take out all the cooked bones and veges .from any stock you made

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #66 of 81
Guess they were too cheap to buy a sieve frown.gifwink.gif
post #67 of 81

Chef Ed doesn't need a strainer.  The lumps in the gravy turn into liquid when they see him.

post #68 of 81

Not to step on any toes but some food for thought.

 

When I would hire chefs to work under me I really didn't care what their pedigree was because I have seen great pedigree young chefs do worse than a dishwasher getting his first chance at making a side dish. I tend to think of cooking as a Culinary Art! Just like the other arts you don't always need the high education to be extraordinary at it, but the dedication and passion could carry you farther than a classroom. I guess it depends on what you set out to do as a young aspiring chef.

 

So when I would hire someone I would consider their pedigree but ask them to make me some variation of one of my dishes and then I would ask them "Try to teach me something about your dish I probably wouldn't know". If you don't know anything new or can't do anything interesting then I could hire someone with moderate training and teach them how to make my exact dishes in the restaurant and call it a day and pay them half the price of what a pedigree young chef would be expecting.

post #69 of 81
doesn't pedigree usually refer to where you've worked, not where you were trained? most people with formal training and no exp are as useful as tits on a bull, I think we can all agree on that.
post #70 of 81

Greetings,

 

I just would like to say that every one titles themselves a "chef" I have dozens of applications and resumes of people who claim they are a chef, who claim they can run a kitchen with 2 years experience behind them. I personally believe that the garbage on television and media is responsible for much of this. Today's generation is not humble, not willing to learn, and very entitled to their own opinion and "know it all attitude" I have seen culinary graduates loose control under pressure from a 5 entree ticket. Ego has replaced humility. My cooks ask whats the recipe to make this or that. I do not tell them, I say look it up, grab a cookbook, get online. If I want to learn I put the effort in to research and experiment. I have 32 years in the business and still know nothing, I am in a constant state of learning. I'm tired of the look on a cooks face that I hurt their feelings because I say it is to salty, or its overcooked, etc. And I am the bad guy because I did not praise their effort. We are here for the client, for the passion of cooking and all the crap that comes within the kitchen.

 

Apologies for the rant.

post #71 of 81


You my friend are 100% correct  . I was in this business for over 50 years and learned something new daily. Even  though I am retired I still experiment and learn. It keeps the brain active.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #72 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post
 


You my friend are 100% correct  . I was in this business for over 50 years and learned something new daily. Even  though I am retired I still experiment and learn. It keeps the brain active.


40 years here and ditto my friend....except I'm not retired just yet.

post #73 of 81

Over 45 yrs. and still learning.

 

 I'm tired of the look on a cooks face that I hurt their feelings because I say it is to salty, or its overcooked, etc. And I am the bad guy because I did not praise their effort. We are here for the client, for the passion of cooking and all the crap that comes within the kitchen. Quote

 

Chef, I'm not so sure you can atttribute that attitude to TV and such totally. I have branched out into some other businesses over the past ten years and have found the same attitude. I think it is a generational thing. Starting in school, these kids are coddled and rewarded for every little thing. Oh Alan, you get a star for going potty today! Johnny, you get a big star for not hitting Mary today!

  I saw this early on and had my son in parochial schools from the start. Even in high school they stood up and greeted the monk or teacher as they entered a room. He has done very well and appreciates the education he got, and he does know right from wrong and respect.


Edited by panini - 1/14/15 at 4:33pm
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #74 of 81

Greetings,

 

Agreed!

I should have clarified my post better. I meant to say that the celebrity cooking,entertainment crap on television influences everyone to believe they are a "chef" I have heard countless conversations of cooks going on about the shows on the foodie network and so on. Just because someone can make a consomme, creme brulee, beef bourguignon, or whatever does not make you a chef. I have heard countless times cooks telling others they are the chef. I must correct them in a firm but loving way. The media/entertainment has blown things out of proportion. Panini, what your saying is correct.

 

My two favorite sayings in this business are: Actions speak louder than words, and Everyone is the chef, but the chef

 

You are blessed.

post #75 of 81

Hi Chefs

 

I tell people all the time you may make very good food,hell even cook better than me however,

not everyone can run a kitchen and not freak out for example when you have twenty chits all at once 

all wanting different items.

post #76 of 81

Merry Christmas to all Happy Holidays

Enjoy your family and loved ones and God bless! 

post #77 of 81

Cooking is an Art. As with all Arts, true mastery can never be achieved...the creatives keep it in flux for posterity.

post #78 of 81
Thread Starter 

Using the ideas everybody offered above and talking with others, I put together an article for Chef Life Magazine. Here is the article (reprinted from http://cheflifemagazine.squarespace.com/jim-berman-blog/):

 

Gages and a tattoo of “chef” across the knuckles or tight-cropped, Marine-style haircut and a metal-banded wristwatch? Classic white, ten-button chef coat, black pants or bowling-alley shirt, Chuck Taylor high tops and jeans?  A pastel pullover or True Cooks shirt when stepping out of the kitchen? Barking and regimented drilling or collaborative learning with peer decision making? All variables that make strides to define the old and new schools of cooking. Old school is as much a state of mind as it is a collection of practices. Style, if you will. So the same should be said for new schoolers. Defining the two is as daunting as it is, well, indefinable. Without one there is no other. The new movement that is grounded in classical methods would be dead if there were nobody around to ply their practice. So where does that leave the mother sauces? Painfully clear is that there are no definitive lines between the old school and the new. Rather, many dotted, dashed and broken segments that allow for osmosis of ideas to traverse generational ways of thinking.

 

Tattooed and renegade spirits let loose in a kitchen of nonconformity

Marco Pierre White is a kitchen bad ass. Look at his plates. A conformist? By today’s kitchen benchmark, a neoclassical purist. By the standards of Jaques Pepin, a cleaver-wielding renegade. Where there was once a regal nod to high cuisine, traditional sauces, complicated platings and presentations, the same is happening with super premium ingredients, equally elaborate visuals and complex techniques. Yes, the techniques have evolved-or morphed-however you look at it, but the complexity may be no different. What was once rendered, reduced, strained and mounted is now geleed, foamed and infused. Grilled cheese was a once croque monsieur. Now it’s burata, fig spread and caramelized apples between brioche. Who is right? Which is better? Perhaps Charlie Trotter, Renee Redzepi, Thomas Kelleher are the faces of the New School. They will be old schoolers. Undeniably, they will. Classically trained or not, tomorrow their food will be yesterday’s points of reference.

 

A bus tub of bad ideas

The fusion food that once was panned as a deliberate attempt of being different for the sake of being different is now as commonplace as the culinary horizon from which it has evolved. New combinations are a key concept in the new thinking. There are menus far and wide that roll together the flavors of Latin America, New America, Italy, Spain and France. Do these menus end in the odiferous bus tub of bad ideas? Or are they making people sit up and take notice? Perhaps these combinations challenge the old logic.

 

Discipline

Chef Peter Martin offers, “The best chefs I worked under were very militaristic-you did it their way or you got out, and you didn't question the chef.  You could ask him questions, but you never questioned him, his authority, or the way he did things.” He goes on, “I think there is a lot to be said for that kind of learning, especially for young cooks that don't know a whole lot.  He definitely did not treat us as equals, but he didn't treat us poorly either.  We were his students and he was our teacher, and while he was a great mentor we were always reminded of what our roles and what his role was in the relationship and it was not equal, nor would we ever be so bold as to consider ourselves as his equal.” Of the new school,  “ Part of the problem with many new, young cooks (not all but a lot of them) is that they forget that the teacher-student dynamic is intrinsically unequal.  They feel entitled, and think that their opinion deserves to be heard and considered.  Sorry, but it doesn't.”

 

Menu

The mother sauces, classical technique. Ballantines. Avocado cream quenelles. Pates are on the rebound or they never have really left. As with clothing, what was once old is new again. Food fashion ebbs and flows. Comfort food of the 1950s was born again in the 1980s and 1990s. Small plates in the style of the California Spa cuisine movement of the 1990s is around in the form tapas and limited menus popping up all over. Regional menus that defined the first decade of 2000 is evolving into the fusiony feel of the early 90s. What diner doesn’t have spaghetti, quesadillas and hummus? Perhaps the actual food we do is less suspect than the school of cooking that gets it to the table.

 

Local as an ingredient

There is no denying the locavore movement-deny the overused term, but not the movement. But it isn’t new. So the new school of cooking imploring the use of what is local is not so new; actually, local eating is as old as eating itself. Here, the two schools do not diverge. Selection of ingredients is usually grounded in quality. The use of local products has bled itself into the pioneers desire to own food trucks, taking the local movement to the people. Owning a big, glittery restaurant does not seem to be the crowning achievement, Rather, hordes lined up outside of the big, glittery food truck is the new benchmark. With the capacity to focus on a few menu items, the use of local products is rooted in portability with the roving eateries. The Great Food Truck Race and John Favreau’s Chef are small and large screen productions that feature the virtue of trucks bristling with local goodness.

 

Chefs with a mission

Part of the new regime includes a nod to environmental consciousness. Non-GMO sunflower oil in the fryer. Bamboo disposables. Plenty of community-based events. Rallying for legalized foie gras. Petitioning for the decriminalization of  marijuana. Conventional kitchen wisdom is not kept in a proverbial bubble. Cooks have a lot to say and the new schoolers are saying it. Grounded in substance or just a ride on the hot mess express has yet to be determined. Either way, the neoteric group has a lot to say. The classical constituency rallied at American Culinary Federation meetings, behind closed doors and in the company of the trade. The message was grounded in the kitchen playground and rarely crossed over into the new media.

 

Digital Education

Love it or hate it, there are offspring of FoodTV, a generation of cooks that are digital natives. Ideas can come from Instagram. Menus can be shared in a blink. Techniques can be learned on YouTube. What once meant a class or showing up before clock-in time can now be had by way of a Galaxy 5 or iPhone. Learning is constant, but now the classroom is always in motion. When asked his thoughts about the old guard versus the new school, Restaurant: Impossible’s Robert Irvine, colorful, loud and indigent to modern day whining egos in the kitchen says “I am old schooler. It is about balancing nutrition, taste and time. Everybody is in a rush.” Adding, “nobody has the time… it is all about getting it done quickly.”And some of the schools are to be blamed for the overly-inflated, grandiose, pastel-painted pictures of what kitchen reality faces the modernistic minions. Get it quickly, seems to be the message.

 

One of the pleasures of being part of kitchen turmoil is the constant state of change, the jovial clashes of ideas and the dripping of colorful ideas from many creative spigots. It isn’t always about doing things better, but about different. Aha! The new school state of mind. And keeping those changes in a place that makes sense, well, that is the old school. Maybe?

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

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

My Author Page

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post #79 of 81
Wow! Great article Jim!

Change is good.

Merry Christmas
post #80 of 81
Quote:
riginally Posted by Jim Berman View Post
 

Using the ideas everybody offered above and talking with others, I put together an article for Chef Life Magazine. Here is the article (reprinted from http://cheflifemagazine.squarespace.com/jim-berman-blog/):

 

....They will be old schoolers. Undeniably, they will. Classically trained or not, tomorrow their food will be yesterday’s points of reference....

 

Exactly!

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #81 of 81
Hi there. I'm a first time poster.

I'm 29 years old, I quit school at 14 to start a cookery apprenticeship. I've never looked back, though I occasionally wish the hours/work were a little easier.
Over the years I've evolved to meet the demands of such a stressful lifestyle, I no longer worry about work/life balance, I value success and early retirement much higher than day to day happiness. That, in itself, has made me happy.
As far as skills go, I always had the mindset that I was faster than the old boys I worked with, I could run rings around them. Experience has now taught me to understand that speed is one small facet of productivity. The older I get, the more i hone, learn, improve.
2 years ago I took the opportunity to rent the kitchen in a yacht club here in Brisbane. I started out with two staff and an average weekly turnover of approximately $2000. As of this year, and with a staff of 12, we're running average weeks of 14 - $18000. Profit margins increase, little by little, month to month. I've watched a lot of young chefs come through with a chip on their shoulders, my advice is always the same. Keep your mouth shut, leave your ego at home and watch EVERYTHING! You can't get through to most.
I suppose, in conclusion, that I never understood what it meant to actually run a kitchen as a young chef, I'm very much still learning now. I'm a vote for 'old school'.
Thanks.
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