Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Study in Anthropology

Friday night was my last night at the foundering ship, and I am certainly glad to be done. I'll save the bitching about mis-management and abusive kitchen staff for my ex-coworkers over a shot of Fernet Branca with a beer back, and talk about the differences between cooks and waitresses instead.

As I may have mentioned, the foundering ship had an entirely new staff when I came back from South America. There were no more Mexicans cooking, instead the place is now being run by 22-year-old "culinary school hotshots" who are too big for their britches. The kids can cook all right, but the attitude that comes across the line with the plates was just too much for me. Too much for everyone that still works there, in fact; at the bar last week, two of the bar managers plotted how to get one of the cooks alone, outside of the building, so they could jump him and punch his face. This kid has a propensity for muttering snide comments under his breath, and their rage was warranted. I talked them out of it.

This huge attitude is compounded by the fact that most of the kids are decently good-looking. There is one cook, however, that we all called either "The Cute Cook," or "The Nice Cook," because not only was he the yummiest to view (over six feet, pretty roses tattooed on his forearm in place of the ubiquitous swallows or pin-up girls, hipster glasses, hot hot hot), he was the one who actually said hello to the front-of-the-house staff of his own accord and didn't look at you like you'd just crawled out from under a rock and asked what year it was like the other cooks do. Also all of the other cooks all have a variation of the same name and his is different, so nobody could remember it.

I can understand why cooks have this bad attitude--they put in three times as many hours as waiters do and get paid less than half as much. Now for me, this didn't make sense after one year of cooking at a fancy-pants restaurant when I was eighteen, so I got a job as a busser right quick. Some people are crazy enough to want to cook in restaurants for their careers, and I commend them for this. I have a great respect for cooks, I just wish they would be nicer to me. And I'm not some clueless waitress that just wants to go out and get drunk and go shopping the next day; I do this work because I'm passionate about food, and it generally confounds a line cook even more when I actually know all of the ingredients in Romesco and Rouille, and how these sauces are prepared.

I'd found out before the shift that the Cute Cook's long-distance relationship was no more, so I gave him every opportunity to ask me out on my last night at the foundering ship. Unfortunately, he did not pick up on my subtle clues, like when I asked him if he was going to come and visit at my new spot... "Blank," he responded "What the fuck is a Blank?" More promisingly, when I explained what and where a Blank was, he sort of ogled me and said "How could I NOT come and see you?" in an extremely sarcastic tone. I think working in restaurants has lowered my standards in men.

1 comment:

a. said...

I just found your blog through becks and posh.
im a pastry chef, and have ablog where i talk about food, life, and sometimes the restaurant. The restaurant im at now, is very diff, than other places i've worked because the waitstaff and kitchen staff get along! Its bizarre. I have long had issues with waitors, like many in the kitchen do, so this has been a new concept to me. In the past , we in the kitchen had to almost find any reason to dislike the waitstaff, i could go on with stories. Its good to see someone from "the other side" writing a perspective about it. Bottom line the front and back should work together, a restaurant is about good food and good service, and everything in between. cheers