Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Saturday, September 23, 2006

People who have known me since dirt was still new know that when I was a teenager, I worked in restaurants for a bunch of my formative years. I started in the dishpit at 15 and moved up to prep cook and then line cook when I was 17 and had worked almost the entire line by the time I was 18. I worked with a bunch of degenerates, but they were NICE degenerates. I saw the sex, the drugs, the alcohol, the more sex and more alcohol on a daily basis as well as a succession of Kitchen Managers and Assistant Kitchen Managers of all types and demeanors (I'm talking about you, Russ, you Irish bastard.. and I mean that in the nicest way :) ) So I know what 'being slammed' is all about: on a Friday night when the ticket printer just doesnt stop printing, servers are screaming for their food, the kitchen detritus is building up to knee-deep, the grills and burners are full, the commands are flying back and forth but in the end it (usually) runs like a well-oiled machine, cranking out a few hundred covers and enough adrenaline that when you finally finish around 1:30 in the morning you're too wired to go to sleep.

A couple years back, when Seb found out that I used to work in kitchens, he told me about this book that I HAD to read. It turned out to be Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I read it. I laughed.. I laughed some more. By the end of the book, all those memories of Jeff the psychotic grill man, Franco the broiler, James the sautee guy who was a +1... anything you had done he had done one better.. Stuart with his Veronica Lake/Robert Plant hair, Mike the prep cook who got up and danced and yelled when he "shot" someone at paintball only to take about 30 paintballs to various parts of his body as soon as he did it and even Dave, the likable goofball who single-handedly destroyed half of the kitchen and burned both hands, two arms and cracked a rib when trying to do some "flair" on the line shortly after the movie "Cocktail" came out. I also realized just how much truth there was in the book ABOUT said sex, drugs, alcohol and rock 'n roll and that in my naive teen years just didn't see it, or blocked it out.

Last year Fox came out with a TV show based on the book. Right away fans screamed about how it couldn't do the book justice and that Bourdain was a sell-out. Out of curiosity I turned it on and watched the four episodes that aired before it was canceled (way to go again.. and again, Fox!) and they were actually quite funny. Sure the "plots" were loosely based on some events and characters in the book, but if you looked past that to a sit-com based in a restaurant, it was pretty funny.

Which leads me to the title of the post. In the TV show the hostess, Tanya, is a cute, complete bubblehead. Between my previous employment in restaurants, my experience as a patron of restaurants and most importantly, my recent interaction with a certain hostess at a certain restaurant, I've come to realize that the stereotype is well-earned. Thank you for taking a simple request to write something down and making a complete dog's breakfast out of it!

Saturday, September 23, 2006 8:29:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Food | Rants#
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