There is always something screwing up the kitchen mojo. There are few travels across the restaurant universe that are smooth sailing. A surly cook that needs a good ass-kicking; a broken compressor in the walk-in is certainly going to make the day interesting; the seafood delivery didn’t get ordered in time, so no char, mussels and crab for tonight. There are also the larger, darker clouds that must get blown away before there is any basking under the sunlight of a well-executed meal; staff morale, slipping quality, lack of focus. I stepped over the cigarette butts and balled-up plastic wrap into the kitchen to a whiff of rotted parmesan or the rancid remains of something that had met, surely, a slow demise under a refrigerator. Dirty side towels garnish the less-than glistening stainless (but stained!) steel. And today is just another day. So today’s nightmare is unearthing the root for the lack of attention to detail of the kitchen arena.
A tossed-aside rag is no big deal and a little trash bounding around the parking lot are not as bad as, say, a rainstorm of dead puppies at a kid’s birthday party. But it is enough for me to question just what, exactly, the closing crew was thinking as they walked across the kitchen for the last time during the previous evening and simply closed their eyes to the filth that they had to traverse to get to their next cigarette on the way to the bus stop. I simply can’t comprehend the linen bin being left at capacity and languishing in its own stink for the first person to arrive in the morning. Mind you, that first person is almost always me, so assuredly they are sending me a message or they simply don’t give a damn. Either way, I do not understand the notion of stepping over sh*t and not caring. So, on this morning I hurl a string of expletives across the oven and over the fryer towards the broiler and around the mixer. Leave the place as good as you found it, if not just a little better. We already know that what we do is not glamorous, nor is it high paying. The reality is that we should share a bravado, a camaraderie, a blistering hot desire to do well. But not really.
Pay attention. We do not dare send out a chicken with feathers or lettuce covered in soil. A dirty kitchen is as much a plague on the people that work in it as it is to work with, say, no electricity or gas. The ruffianism that we so lovingly embrace should extend to shattering the belief that we are slobs. Be a rebel. Sport your tattooed sleeves. Rock out to Avenge Sevenfold. Drink like a god-damned sailor. Leave your station clean. Leave the kitchen like a monument to perfection; a shiny spot in a grimy industry so that people see it and want to laud the tenacity of this gang of marauders.