Can Chefs Get Old and Stay Relevant
I have often caught myself saying that cooking in a professional kitchen is a young persons game. Having left the kitchen for education and then returned at the age of 55, it was obvious to me that certain jobs within a kitchen required physical stamina and mental acuity that comes with youth, however, there were still many other areas of responsibility where mental maturity and experience ruled. The dilemma of age and remaining relevant plagues nearly every profession, but my point of reference can only be what I know, thus I thought it was a topic worth investigating.
An interesting parallel might be the evolution of musical taste and how each age group perceives the other. When I was very young I can remember the impatience that the over 50 crowd had with what we were listening to. On the other hand, I, like my peers, felt that those over 50 were listening to prehistoric tunes that seemed so uninteresting to us. This disparity in preference was, is and will likely always be present. Much of today’s music seems dysfunctional to me and I am sure that the opposite is true with those who have worked with me in the kitchen and are under the age of 30. Oh, well, such is life; right?
The World Through A Chefs Eyes
We all have different ways to view the world around us. Chefs tend to work more than many other people and have difficulty decompressing when they do get a chance to have some personal time. The complexity of their position leads chefs to see the world through the eyes of the restaurant. This is a synopsis of how things line up through their eyes:
 VENDORS AND PRODUCTS- As much as chefs would like to separate vendors from the products they want and need, it is difficult to do so. Chefs realize their primary job is to buy the best possible ingredients to ensure the opportunity exists to create great dishes. In most cases, chefs would prefer to deal directly with the farmer or producer, but due to time constraints and distribution challenges they are forced to do business with vendors. There are some that are great; vendors who appreciate their role as a provider, respect the ingredients as much as the chef, understand the pressure their clients are under to be profitable and focus on service above all else. Unfortunately, experience demonstrates that many vendors do not understand their role and cannot be trusted to deliver on the promise. This drives chefs absolutely crazy.
Inside a James Beard Dinner
Authors note: With the rebirth or EOL I figured I'd republish some of my favorite articles.
All the Best,
Presenting a dinner at the James Beard House is one of the jewels most Chefs would love to have in their resume. Chef Robert Rizzuto CEC, CCE of the New York Institutes of Technology (NYIT) de Seversky Conference Center in Old Westbury New Yorkhosted two events there in 2002. The first one was an Easter Brunch and the most recent, December 28th 2002 a "Palm Springs Christmas".
THE SIMPLEST KITCHEN ON EARTH
Last summer, my family and I spent a week vacationing in the Rocky Mountain resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado. After a long day's journey, my children, then six and two years of age, were exhausted. They woke early, tolerated two planes that carried them half way across the United States, and then finally endured a ninety minute car ride before we reached our destination. We quickly dropped off our luggage and immediately left in search of somewhere to eat. We needed something simple and quick. The kids were fading fast.
It’s been some time since I have posted on EOL or should I say the Original EOL, glad to be back. Staying committed to excellence is essential to ongoing upward mobility or maybe even gainful employment. I see people with so much potential who never advance or develop as leaders in their disciplines. They wonder why this person or that person always gets the breaks; they blame the system for their failures and hold contempt for those who quickly move through the ranks.
The Kitchen Evolution
As a one of my colleagues often criticizes about the design of most kitchens in the foodservice industry … "We are still cooking in Escoffier's kitchen." What he is implying, and correctly so, is that the design of kitchens and the equipment within them has not changed much over the last 100 years or more. Escoffier could walk into a modern kitchen and feel quite at home. Consider for a moment the progress that has been made in other industries over the course of a century, and then look at our industry. Ford recently celebrated 100 years in business. 100 years ago Ford was making the Model T - and look at where they are now. A deck oven from the early 1900's look remarkably like the deck ovens we still use today. Looming on the horizon is what I believe to be the Kitchen Evolution.