Once upon a time, my friend used to do restaurant reviews and I got free meals in some really nice places.
The meals were ordered and eaten incognito. But after paying the bill we usually threw off our disguises and revealed ourselves with a merry ha-ha, because we needed to interview the chef.
We loved the chefs, each one uniquely gifted and equally cuckoo. We called them serial killers in awe and affection. Well, I’ve just finished Kitchen Confidential and I realise they are.
Some of them were geniuses. Some, sublime. A few were copywriters who could cook. I remember a particularly unsatisfactory pasta, preceded by a spectacularly disappointing appetiser. The chef’s “philosophy” on this one sounded like back-of-pack copy on fancy flavoured tea. You know the stuff tastes like dirty rainwater because you’ve tried it before, but the copy is so full of promise, you try it again – because perhaps last time you were just not sophisticated enough to understand. It’s still rainwater. Or you’re still unsophisticated. It all comes to the same thing in the end.
Kitchen Confidential also turned out to be an unexpected instruction manual that came just in time. It tells you all you need to know but were afraid to ask about leadership of a psycho team working in high-stress conditions.
Now that I've finally been told how to manage my “line cooks”, we'll all live happily ever after.
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