Saturday, September 29, 2012

the last book I ever read (Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef, excerpt four)

from Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson:

When Georges Blanc offered me a full-time job, I knew it was time to go. To me, that was the equivalent to a diploma, proof I had been successful. But I was headed for different frontiers, ones with bolder flavors, to be made and consumed by a cross section of people who more accurately reflected the larger world and, for that matter, me.

It was tempting to say yes to Blanc; I had fallen in love with the spirit of the place, and with working with foods that were organic and seasonal before either became a trend. But the day he made his offer, I got caught in the walk-in refrigerator with a chef who decided to go off on his Japanese commis. The chef was a few years younger than the commis, and the commis, like most of the Japanese who came to work for Blanc, was an excellent worker, meticulous and fast. The chef was just a cocky guy showing that he was boss. He had not only called him a fucking idiot and an amateur, he had upended the commis's mise en place, creating a holy mess inside the refrigerator. And when his screaming wasn't enough to fully express his rage, he punched the guy in the stomach. Right in front of me.

The commis didn't say a word. He'd flexed his stomach in anticipation, practically breaking the chef's hand. The commis was going to be fine, but I remember watching this and thinking, OK, I've gotten all the training I need here. Time to go.

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