The boxing ring of the kitchen is full of choosing which battles to engage and those to which you turn away. It is full of days ruminating about the ass-hat wearing cook that refuses to wear a chef coat. Take that punch and look to the other corner. When it comes raise time, though, the war will be won while his battle has been lost. The seafood delivery comes in with questionable mussels, the driver insisting the quality is “exceptional.” That gets a body blow as the mussels go out the door and the sales rep gets an early-morning wake-up call. The manager interferes with the goings on of the kitchen symphony? That definitely gets a roundhouse kick to the spleen. I will deal with my crew; don’t you dare come into the sacred Arena of Cookdom and spew vitriol whilst wearing a tie, a short-sleeved button down and carrying an iPad. And what the hell does it matter to me that Yelper’s ridiculous opinion of what my grits dish is supposed to be? He modified it beyond recognition of anything I was formulating in the kitchen, yet insists on voicing his displeasure in a very public way. I can’t engage that, though. It lends volume to his feeble voice that deserves to be slowly and most assuredly suffocated out of him in the dark of the night under a heaping pile of bubbling, cheesy grits. I have to duck that punch and avoid Yelp for a week so that their post slides down under some less pretentious reviews that are grounded in fact rather than by hallucinogenic insight imparted by damaged frontal lobes sauced in Grey Goose and Percosets.
Clashing with waitstaff is as timeless as cooking itself. Us versus them. Animals versus Cooks. Gratuities versus hourly. They will lie about kitchen errors, scorn the cooks for any slip-up, and cower behind their own trays to restore the virtue to their righteous tip. Cooks do it for the rush. So, yeah, there will be border skirmishes along the pick-up window. Don’t touch the food, disgrace the warriors facing the fire or otherwise engage the kitchen battalion and peace shall prevail. The waitstaff can bomb the bussers all they want to the amusement of Hector, Tommy and Jackie. And the conflict rages on. An owner getting in the way and bastardizing the food? Strife will ensue. And depending on the rules of engagement, an updated resume' may be the only outcome. That can be a fight worth losing. Surely there can be retreat, but surrender is not an option.
I don a battle axe by using my own sense of what is important rather than my usual fiery disposition. If it affects the guest, it is definitely a clash worth engaging. If you trounce one of the kitchen crew, right or wrong, you get a smack down; we stick up for our own - it’s cooks’ code. We may be tyrants, but don’t mess with la familia! Call it a temper, call it passion (the most overused word in our industry), either way you are going to witness carnage. If cooks ruled the world, all wars would end with a tequila round at the end of the night, some crude jokes and graphic references to bodily fluids.