Good Chef, Bad Chef

When I tell someone I attend culinary school, more often than not, that person conjures an image of a chef yelling at a student while flames are engulfing half the stovetop. (I blame this on food reality shows.)

How accurate is this? Yes, it does happen. Often? Not so much.

From one night at the French Culinary Institute's restaurant, L'Ecole: My group is working on searing some hangar steaks while the more advanced students are preparing some lamb chops. As the restaurant got busier, more orders for the lamb dish flew in.

"Why are you guys so slow?!" yells the other group's chef.

"Sorry, chef," one student replies under his breath.

The students start chopping a little faster, moving pans across the stove and their hands are maybe even a little shaky.

"I want you to work faster," the chef screams. "Do you want me to cook for you?"

OK, so this doesn't happen very often. I could tell you stories of chefs who praise you frequently, joke with you and display an endless amount of patience as they show you for the tenth time how to properly quarter a chicken.

My take on this is that the kitchen is a high pressure place. You will have chefs who have temperaments and others who could care less. I'm still figuring out the best way to deal with various personalities in the kitchen. The best I can do is focus on my work and just do what the chef tells me to. If you have advice, feel free to respond.

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