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I Don't Understand

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I received the January 2016 issue of Bon Appétit and was reading an article: "In defense of simple food" featuring Chef Jeremy Fox.
"Fox is particular about how his cooks fold their side towels. 'If a cook's not folding his towel right, ' Fox says, 'he might be cutting corners elsewhere.' They're used as pot holders, to wipe cutting boards, to anchor a mixing bowl-and draped over the corner of a pan to signal that it's hot. This is how to earn his approval:"
And then there's a diagram on how to fold a towel.

REALLY?!

Who says that a towel HAS to be folded just so?
I get that it's his kitchen but come on man.
Just a little OCD, dontcha think?
 

post #2 of 24

Wow.

 

My grandmother, Anna Lutz, had a place called Lutz's Country House outside of Dowagiac, Michigan. I remember very little about the restaurant, I may not have ever been there. This was back when I was about 6 years old or so. One thing I do remember is one evening she came home from the place and was complaining about one of the new cooks who carried a towel over his shoulder. She did not approve of the practice, saying "He's just carrying germs all over the place!"

 

I don't recall her commenting on the folding.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohegirlinaz View Post
 

I received the January 2016 issue of Bon Appétit and was reading an article: "In defense of simple food" featuring Chef Jeremy Fox.
"Fox is particular about how his cooks fold their side towels. 'If a cook's not folding his towel right, ' Fox says, 'he might be cutting corners elsewhere.' They're used as pot holders, to wipe cutting boards, to anchor a mixing bowl-and draped over the corner of a pan to signal that it's hot. This is how to earn his approval:"
And then there's a diagram on how to fold a towel.

REALLY?!

Who says that a towel HAS to be folded just so?
I get that it's his kitchen but come on man.
Just a little OCD, dontcha think?
 

 

 

His kitchen....his rules....Also remember the article sells magazines so what you read is not always what really happens.

I don't know about the towel usage though. If I use my towel to wipe a cutting board, now it's wet. I wouldn't use it now as a hot pad.

Most kitchens (should) have sanitizer bucket or spray bottles with separate towels for cleaning and wiping.

post #4 of 24
I totally get it. Each towel is to be folded precisely according to the boss 's specifications. Why is that so weird? If you don't like it go work somewhere else.

As a boss's myself I have my own ocd rituals and specifications. I have my reasons and I expect my rules to be respected. When someone is thwarting one rule it makes me wonder what other rules they are thwarting and gives me a sense of mistrust. This reminds me of a chapter in an autobiographical book by Motley Crue. In their contract with venues they had a part that said that in their dressing room the venue was required to have a bowl of M&Ms with all the green M&Ms removed. If they arrived there and saw that the green ones were removed then they felt comfortable that this venue has honored every detail of their contract where as if the green candies remained then they remained fearful that the venue would honor other details in the contract.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 24

I always feel lucky if I even HAVE a side towel.....

Every man for himself seems to be the rule in most kitchens I have worked in ;-)

 

mimi

post #6 of 24

He means folded appropriately so it's useful which probably saves time and looks less sloppy.  

post #7 of 24

I wish that was all I had to worry about when running a kitchen. I bet they all say "Yes Chef"!!!!! 

post #8 of 24

I used to work for a Chef that always had his towel either slung over his shoulder or hanging out from his back pocket.

He looked like a gas station mechanic.

post #9 of 24

He should have been fired.  Back pocket is for tongs.

post #10 of 24

In my experience, some people like a towel folded a certain way so they can easily pick it up and have the towel completely open up . . . and use only one hand.  This is handy if you need to use the entire towel for something and don't want to be bothered unfolding it to open it up.  The way a towel is folded is not just for a chef, but also for medical professionals.

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

 

 

His kitchen....his rules....Also remember the article sells magazines so what you read is not always what really happens.

I don't know about the towel usage though. If I use my towel to wipe a cutting board, now it's wet. I wouldn't use it now as a hot pad.

Most kitchens (should) have sanitizer bucket or spray bottles with separate towels for cleaning and wiping.

 

All towels are folded the same way.  But use one towel for each job.  The article doesn't imply that a wet towel is used as a hot pad.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

 

All towels are folded the same way.  But use one towel for each job.  The article doesn't imply that a wet towel is used as a hot pad.

Having not read the article I would not know there are multiple towels, and the OP did not elude to that fact.

post #13 of 24

What if I go out after work with this chef for a few beer and hot wings. Is he going to bitch all freaking night about me beeping and wiping my mouth on my sleeve. 

post #14 of 24

Others have obviously been reluctant to give away what is amongst the more esoteric practices to go on in professional kitchens, but a real chef knows how to grab a towel, absolutely anywhere along the edge, spin it through the air like a master pizza spinner, and catch it, single handed, and in such a combination of ways that it forms itself into any arrangement that could possibly be needed.  This of course pertains to dry towels, as a wet towel is a wet towel, is a wet towel, etc.

 

And this article author calls himself a chef!  This person needs to go back to square 1 and practice folding 2 sheets of toilet paper single handed, as any average 10yr old could do.


Edited by Rick Alan - 12/31/15 at 5:39pm
post #15 of 24
Honestly, if a rule in the kitchen can be explained to me, and it makes sense and makes my life easier in the kitchen, I'm down for it. If it's a case of a fragile chef ego... And their need to micromanage, then I'm out. I need to learn how to cook, not cater to someone's OCD.
A side story... Worked with a sous (I was a sous as well) and the guy lays into me whilst I'm in the dish pit lending a helping hand... I was whistling... And in front of everyone starts giving me shit because I was whistling.
I turned to the sous told him to pull up his panties and jump in and give a hand. Then proceeded to whistle a tune.

Ego. Hâte it.

For the towel thing, if it truly works better and makes the operation go smoother, then I'm for it. If not, I'd just ignore it. Let the guy fire me. I'll be able to get a job somewhere else.

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

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Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by welldonechef View Post

Honestly, if a rule in the kitchen can be explained to me, and it makes sense and makes my life easier in the kitchen, I'm down for it. If it's a case of a fragile chef ego... And their need to micromanage, then I'm out. I need to learn how to cook, not cater to someone's OCD.
A side story... Worked with a sous (I was a sous as well) and the guy lays into me whilst I'm in the dish pit lending a helping hand... I was whistling... And in front of everyone starts giving me shit because I was whistling.
I turned to the sous told him to pull up his panties and jump in and give a hand. Then proceeded to whistle a tune.

Ego. Hâte it.

For the towel thing, if it truly works better and makes the operation go smoother, then I'm for it. If not, I'd just ignore it. Let the guy fire me. I'll be able to get a job somewhere else.

 

DUDE!  That's how I was looking at it, but, well that's just me, I don't work in a Professional Kitchen, so... yeah, 

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohegirlinaz View Post

DUDE!  That's how I was looking at it, but, well that's just me, I don't work in a Professional Kitchen, so... yeah, 

Well, gone are the days where people feared the chef. Today cooks want to know why. Why do we do it this way? If the answer is "because the chef said so," it certainly doesn't hold the same weight as it did 20 years ago.

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

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Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by welldonechef View Post

Well, gone are the days where people feared the chef. Today cooks want to know why. Why do we do it this way? If the answer is "because the chef said so," it certainly doesn't hold the same weight as it did 20 years ago.

 

HA!  Oh my GAWD!  Come on man, you're killin' me!

post #19 of 24

Yall ever been on a Carnival cruise?

You know those little animals (made from towels) the steward leaves on the bed at turn down?

Well I bought the book (yeah I am a sucker but we don't drink much and I had to use up a credit) and have yet to try my hand at this unusual form of vacation art.

Now if you are talking about starched linen napkins I am your girl lol!

 

mimi

post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post
 

Yall ever been on a Carnival cruise?

You know those little animals (made from towels) the steward leaves on the bed at turn down?

Well I bought the book (yeah I am a sucker but we don't drink much and I had to use up a credit) and have yet to try my hand at this unusual form of vacation art.

Now if you are talking about starched linen napkins I am your girl lol!

 

mimi


I've seen some towel art from my front line cooks over the years. They wouldn't be in any books found in any book stores that didn't have soaped up windows.......Happy New Year

 

post #21 of 24

Haven't read the article or all of the posts here, but not every side towel is the same from supplier to supplier, yes? Folding it in thirds or half's, etc, is something everybody does differently. 

 

On the other hand, if the reason he's watching his employees like a hawk because they might be cutting corners, then he's got trust issues and doesn't have confidence in the staff he's hired. As long as the task is completed correctly, dictating the way the towel is folded seems a bit anal. Does this guy look to see how people tie their shoe laces? One towel used for everything seems more important than how you fold it. 

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post

Haven't read the article or all of the posts here, but not every side towel is the same from supplier to supplier, yes? Folding it in thirds or half's, etc, is something everybody does differently. 

On the other hand, if the reason he's watching his employees like a hawk because they might be cutting corners, then he's got trust issues and doesn't have confidence in the staff he's hired. As long as the task is completed correctly, dictating the way the towel is folded seems a bit anal. Does this guy look to see how people tie their shoe laces? One towel used for everything seems more important than how you fold it. 

Spot on. One thing I learned a long time ago is to let go. As long as the outcome is up to your standard, who cares how you get there?

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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post #23 of 24

I agree, the sooner you realize your employees will never meet or beat your exceptions the happier you'll be. It's a wonderful thought but it's really just a pipe dream.....Shoot for the stars be happy if you come close.......Chef 101 = no one you hire will ever care as much as you......


Edited by ChefBillyB - 1/1/16 at 2:56pm
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

I agree, the soon you realize your employees will never meet or beat your exceptions the happier you'll be. It's a wonderful thought but it's really just a pipe dream.....Shoot for the stars be happy if you come close.......Chef 101 = no one you hire will ever care as much as you......

True, and to to be honest, I've learned other techniques by letting my employees do it their way. You never stop learning!

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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