This blog post was inspired by a conversation in my local chef forum. It was one of those moments where I realised that I wasn’t alone in what I thought were my own idiosyncrasies. So here are a few highlights:
Thou shalt always double tap your knife the chopping board or work surface before commencing with any slicing, filleting or chopping duties. This ensures the knife still works and makes the chef gods happy.
Thou shalt never utter the words “I think it’ll be nice and quiet tonight” before the end of service. This is ALWAYS a trigger phrase for the chef overlords to strike you down!
Never look at the clock on the wall. Service is not over!
Thou shalt not touch another chef’s knives, pen, or tools. This will only create tension and you can legally be assassinated by ninjas.
Never ever tip away the last portion of sauce béarnaise before the end of service. It doesn’t matter how sure you are. Even if you’ve sent out the last table’s meal. They will ask for a splash more.
This one is not really a superstition, but important all the same. ALWAYS use a dry tea-towel. Assume everything is hot.
On the subject of tea towels. How many should be tucked into your apron? Personally, I am a one cloth chef. But I know some who appear to be living out Hawaiian hula skirt fantasies. Going with three or even four tucked in there.
Never tell your fellow chefs, “I’ll just stay for one drink, I’ve got to get home”, this is basically provoking a challenge. You’ll soon be tip toeing into your house at 3am.
Always have you chef’s back. If you know they got plastered with you last night, the least you can do for the lightweight is help them with a little of their Mis En Place. Especially if they have had the decency to turn up.
Thou shalt not be a dick (not gender specific)
There are several blogs and posts which cover the “chef code”. My own view is that number 10 here covers it all. You don’t have to search too hard to find online chef Facebook group pages and forums which are filled with opinions, take-downs, negativity and general childishness. The modern term is “trolling” I guess. We, as chefs have enough to deal with without taking swipes at each other. There are some social media pages where I would never post photos of my work. No matter how proud I am of it. I know some jumped up Michelin Guide wannabe will be waiting to post a comment about preferred presentation technique. Or even suggest adding wild garlic (a joke I never really understood on chef’s arse FB page).
I love being a chef. I love the history of it. I love the simplicity and the complexity. But it is just food at the end of the day. No double tapping of the knife or pre service cigarette ritual will make any difference. Our knowledge is our power. It does take a certain type of person to stick it out as a chef. I’ll be 43 later this month and I am one of the last remaining chefs from the group I graduated with back in 1994. The others are either bus drivers, dead or somewhere in between. I’ve said before that I am not sure how many years I have left on the front line so-to-speak. But I will never stop cooking*.
*Obviously, if my numbers come up on the lotto I AM OUTTA HERE!!!