Slight change from the normal review this week. I actually ate in two places intending to review them but they were so indescribably mundane and boring that I didn't think they justified a full review. Take the picture above for example from Lock's Bistro where I ate with a mate. It has a Michelin star and the steak was good but I couldn't find one good or bad thing to say about it. Fuck Michelin stars anyway they seem irrelevant in a world of Yelp, Twitter, Instagram and blogs. Who are some snooty French book to tell us what to eat based on a couple of visits a year. So I was a couple of hundred Euro lighter in the wallet department and short a review for this week. One thing that seems to be getting people interested here in the comments section is that I used to be a chef and I know a good bit about how kitchens work. Most people have a sanitized view of kitchens thinking that a Jamie, Hugh or Gordon are back there gracefully picking herbs in the garden and slowly basting their leg of lamb but I wanted to share a few truths about kitchens that people don't really know. These things don't happen in all kitchens but I wanted to give a glimpse in to what happens behind the closed doors of a professional kitchen...
You Shouldn't Eat Fish On A Monday
Probably the most obvious one on the list but most people don't even think about it. Deliveries tend to come in on a Friday for the busy weekend to give chefs enough time to get all their fish prepared. With no deliveries on a Sunday that means that the "fresh fish" you are eating on a Monday might have been sitting in the fridge for 3 days minimum. Chefs are reluctant to throw out fish given it's high cost so you might just see it getting a little dusting of cajun seasoning or chili to hide that slightly funky taste.
Don't Order 10 Minutes Before Closing Time
Imagine the scene in the kitchen...It is 10.45 and the place closes at 11. The chefs have sent the last table and have cleaned the entire kitchen ready for their couple of pints. Just as they are starting to head out the door in comes a lone business man who orders a starter, a well done steak and a dessert. What a fucking prick. That person has just put an extra 90 minutes on those chef's evenings. Unpaid. People ordering late really piss chefs off and are liable to get any old shite thrown out the door at them.
Specials Are What Needs To Be Sold Quickly
As a chef If you have ordered a bunch of chicken or fish and have way too much piling up in the frige about to go off then the first place you think of is the specials board. Unlike the name would suggest the specials are far from it and are instead a bunch of stuff that needs to get used up and which your smart waiter will push you towards!
Your Food Is Full Of Butter, Fat, Salt And Cream
Why do things like steaks, fish, veggies and potatoes always taste way better when eating out than at home? Well because they are absolutely laced with the above ingredients that would make anything taste nice. Healthy options are getting better but if you saw how much fat and salt went in to your food in a restaurant you'd have weight watchers on speed dial walking out the door.
Veggie Options Are Not Always Vegetarian
Even Gordon Ramsay has fallen foul of this old one. Chefs don't like cooking for Vegetarians. It is as simple as that. Massive pain in the arse when you are trying to run a restaurant when one fucker comes in looking for steamed spinach or a "surprise veggie dish". While 80% of chefs do the right thing I've seen tons of chefs using chicken stock in veggie soups or a little splash of jus in a sauce.
Chefs Often Cook When Ill
Because of the nature of being a chef it is very hard for somebody to just step in and take your place especially if you are a head chef. Nobody could learn the menu that fast or get to grips with the prep needed so more often than not chefs just say "fuck it I'm not going to let the team down" and head on in to cook. I've seen chefs with everything from diarrhea right through to flus and colds cooking away serving hundreds of people while sniffling away. Might not seem like that big a deal but when that chef tastes the sauce for seasoning and pops the spoon straight back in to the sauce that means you could be sick tomorrow.
Your Food Is Rubbish Because The Chef Is Hungover
Have you ever been to a restaurant that is normally brilliant only to arrive one Saturday or Sunday for lunch and it is an absolute disgrace. Lots of different reasons why this can happen but one common one is a very hungover chef. Lets face it we all perform way worse when hungover but with the heat and pressure of a kitchen that gets magnified by ten. I've seen chefs dying with hangovers shoveling out pure shite.
Most Chefs Are Drunks / Druggies Or Drop Outs
Bit of a controversial one this and there are some exceptions. I'd say 70% of the chefs I've worked with over the years fall under those categories. It's an incredibly stressful job with long hours, low pay and brutal personalities. There are easier jobs out there and the mentality of only the toughest surviving doesn't help. Huge pressure and extreme stress force a lot of chefs to unwind with alcohol or go off the rails in various other ways.
Food Is Often Made 5 Days In Advance
You probably think that your chef has been in cutting your potatoes by hand and trimming up your steak at the crack of dawn. The truth is that most of the prep gets done on quieter days like Tuesday and Wednesday well in advance to get ready for the busy times. Some stuff is of course made daily but there is a lot of ingredients that could have been sitting prepped in fridges waiting days for you to eat them.
Food Gets Reused All The Time
I've never seen this myself but I've heard plenty of stories of it. Actually I lie in that I have seen it with a couple of simple things. The bread on the tables often gets reused and veggies that are left over get turned in to soup all the time. I have heard of some places scraping pasta off plates and using it again but that is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination. While the bread one seems innocent enough you could have 6 or 7 people touching your bread before your lovely little basket gets to the table.
Inside A Real Kitchen
I've never seen a video capture what a real kitchen is like before I saw this one. It is Gordon Ramsay when he actually still cooked every day and was chasing Michelin stars. It's very realistic and unlike the shouting he does with his droopy botoxed face these days in the USA this is the real chef. Nasty.