We’re going to do it. You can’t stop us, and you don’t really want to. Food styling!
Culinary professionals all over the world (and amateurs, too) are fixated on making food photos look luscious, inviting and perfect. As technology improves on an ascending curve, it’s easier than ever for everyone to do. So I’m inviting you to come down on one side of the fence or the other: Should images of food be manipulated like the airbrushed models on fashion magazine covers? Or should they be as candid as the mug shots in Crime Times?
Continue reading Stylin’
“Eighty-six!” We sling this slang around a lot in restaurant kitchens: Eighty-six means the cooks have run out of a menu item, as in, “Eighty-six the trout!” When something’s eighty-sixed, it means there is no more forthcoming – nada, zip, zilch – at least for now.
Continue reading Eighty-sixed
There’s a handful of movies I just cannot turn past when channel surfing: “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Jaws,” “Carrie,” “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “War of the Worlds” (yes, the Tom Cruise version) to name a few.
Continue reading Embrace beginnings and ends
Did you know that many independent restaurant workers don’t have employer-subsidized health insurance? They are out there, going insurance-style commando with their fingers crossed. If they get injured at work, worker’s compensation should cover their medical expenses. But what if something else happens? What if they get mugged, or involved in a car accident while off the clock? What if their utilities get turned off because they couldn’t work for a couple of weeks due to an injury or illness, and they have children who will be affected?
Continue reading Covering and protecting our own
There’s a meme that echoes throughout the restaurant industry: a sense of urgency. Great cooks and servers have a “sense of urgency” — even when there’s no emergency. I think the first time I heard the phrase, I was watching a Food Network show where several cooks were trying out in a restaurant kitchen to see which one had the juice to get a job there. One of the judges said a contestant didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency: She didn’t move around the kitchen as if anything was crucial or even very important. It appeared that she thought she had all day to complete her current task, rather than execute it with maximum efficiency and quickly pivot to the next one.
Continue reading Urgency
I remember with pleasure and deep gratitude the first time I was paid a sincere compliment in a professional kitchen. As a recent culinary-school graduate, I was working a very busy pantry shift in a downtown restaurant on a “show night.” (A “show night” means there are one or more concerts, plays or sporting events in the area; nearby restaurants get hit hard just before curtain or buzzer time.)
Continue reading Soldiers of the kitchen