Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half Baked.
His voice may send shivers down a young cook's spine and his temper may be infamous -- but Gordon Ramsay has nothing on South Florida Chefs this April.
The days are getting longer and hotter, and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel as another snowbird season comes to a close. There are a couple of big holidays looming, including the Mother of all brunch festivities,. But what little holiday cheer your chef had left has been long gone since mid-February. Along with the cheer went his patience, humor, and pretty much anything that resembles human behavior.
The only thing keeping chefs standing after seven straight months is sheer stubborn will and a diet of energy drinks, alcohol (often mixed together to save time) and hourly ass-chewings of line cooks. But what turns these everyday, semi "normal" masochists into rabid knife-wielding maniacs?
Behold our list of Top Ten reasons:
10. The Smell: You might be a little pissy too if you smelled like raw fish, onions, and all-day sweat for months on end. Eau de Todays Catch doesn't play well with the opposite sex.
9. Anger-Fueled Diet: It's no wonder chefs are edgy when they guzzle things like coffee, Red Bull, or Monster by the gallon, mixed with a healthy dose of alcohol and/or nicotine and whatever you can manage to scarf down when you remember to eat.
8. Talking: You've been in this kitchen long enough to crack a couple jokes with Chef, voice an opinion, or even a complaint. This was acceptable in January after a grueling couple of weeks and personal sacrifice all around. Now, you'll sharply get reminded of whose kitchen it is, every mistake you've ever made (both personal and professional), and the location of the door.
7. Incompetence: The same servers that have been there since late September are still making day-one mistakes. Forgot to fire your table's order? Or you didn't write SOS (sauce on side) on the ticket? Mid-December, Chef would've just rolled eyes at it and made things happen. These days, Chef'll send you back on the floor crying before fixing "your problem".
6. The heat in the kitchen: As South Floridians, we are all used to the constant heat, even in the wee hours of the morning. But now that blistering sun is sitting over the kitchen. Coupled with a bunch of ovens cranking at over 400 degrees and a heavy, poorly ventilated coat; now you have a Chef walking around with her blood literally boiling.
5. Phallic Inferiority: Fabricating was once a skill Chef loved to flex. Big hunks of meat used to provide the basis of daily jokes about his potency both in and out of the kitchen. Now a large piece of beef tenderloin or a side of fresh, pink mahi is just a reminder to Chefs of the action they are too tired to get. And for God's sake, don't ever wear blue!
4. Ordering cheese with your whine: A few months earlier Chef may have pretended to listen (but was actually thinking of a menu or prep list) to you go on about days off, cuts, burns, pains, money woes, blah blah blah. Come spring, the only sympathy you'll get is if Chef only kicks you in the groin, as apposed to stabbing you, for whining.
3. Correct the Chef?!: Doesn't matter that Chef just topped your sundae with a raw piece of chicken and called it a cherry -- this is a no-no! Normally, commiting this atrocity would just get you publicly reamed or a mere canning. Now, this crime will have you sentenced to a week of peeling onions, toting ice and/or garbage, cleaning fryers, and generally hating life.
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2. Incomp-iness (Incompetence cause by laziness): Oh yeah, I just Barney Stinson you all! Chef isn't the only one who's dragging in the kitchen these days. A whole staff of production and line cooks have been there for these grueling months, too. At this point they are zombies so tired they take lazy shortcuts and make careless mistakes. Want to see chef's head explode? Be ten minutes late, half-ass setting up your station, then forget to drop the dish with the longest cook time on a ticket in the middle of the rush. Hello Mount Vesuvius!
1. RUNNING OUT OF CORNSTARCH!: Some of the most treacherous "swamps" in Florida aren't in the Everglades, people! That's all I have to say about that.