(2003-08-29) Kitchen Confidential

Just finished (Book List) Kitchen Confidential - Made me want to run up to LesHalles for lunch. Maybe next week. Instead I'm Cooking a lamb leg braised in red wine with onions, olives, tomato...

More of a collection of essays than a coherent book, but still a good inside look at the Restaurant Industry. (Related recommendation: Peter Greenaway flick "The Cook The Thief...")

Some bits that remind me of Hacker love of The Craft. I can break down line cooks into 3 groups: the Artists... the Exiles... the Mercenaries: people who do it for cash and do it well. Cooks who, though they have little love or natural proclivity for cuisine, do it at a high level because theyare paid well to do it - and because they are professionals. Cooking is a craft, I like to think, and a good cook is a craftsman - not an artist. There's nothing wrong with that: the great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsmen - though not designed by them. Practicing your craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable, and satisfying.

Also, on Over-Specialization: (Bigfoot) retained, among other deeply flawed outcasts who'd inexplicably sworn loyalty oaths and joined up for the duration, a Presidential Guard of blue-uniformed porters whom he had personally trained in the manly arts of refrigeration repair, plumbing, basic metal work, glazing, electrical repair and maintenance. In addition to the usual tasks of cleaning, mopping, toilet-plunging and porter work, Bigfoot porters could lay tile, dig out a foundation, build you a lovely armoire or restore a used reach-in refrigerator to factory specs. Nothing pissed off Bigfoot more than having to pay some high-priced Specialist for a job he thought he should be able to do himself.

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