Getting it Just Right


 I am one.


Often confused with obsessive-compulsive behavior, there are several schools of thought that address it.

One is the idealist, the person who actually believes perfection is possible.

The other school posits that perfection is not possible.

Of the two, the former is way more palatable to me because at bare minimum, it leads to the pursuit of perfection.

The other school leads to feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and nihilism.

“Why should I even try?”

No contest.

I used to use a test to determine candidates to work in my kitchens in any capacity. I would place a plate in the pass-out window with ONE thing wrong, or out of place.

I looked for the fastidious cooks who showed a high level of pride in their workmanship.

I could teach them how to prepare classic French cuisine, but I couldn’t teach them how to produce perfect plates every single time. Their grandparents, and then their parents, were responsible for instilling that.

I also looked for team or individual sports in their personal histories. I found that the lessons learned from playing competitive sports translated directly to their work habits and ability to navigate different personalities and cultures in the restaurant.

Both our internal and external shareholders.

When I was apprenticing under French Master Renaud Defond, I had a problem cooking the croissants and pastries in the morning. My shift started at six, but like every single employee, I was there an hour before my shift started.

Chef wanted to ensure that people were putting his kitchen as the top priority in their lives.

Of course, I would wake and bake before work at 4am before heading in to the resort in Santa Barbara.

When I arrived, I was always the first, and only one in the spotless kitchen.

I had to make the croissant dough fresh per Chef, so he kept track of how many croissants were discarded at the end of the breakfast seating so he could see how much of a saboteur you were, preventing him from displaying his greatness to all as a direct affront to himself, and French chefs all over the world.

Invariably. I would burn the first sheet pan of pastries.

And he always caught me.

Despite never speaking a word of English (he would not answer or acknowledge you unless you addressed him en francais) there was no gray area in his kitchen.

Renaud’s way, or the highway.

Make no mistake, he was the best chef I ever saw, and he taught me things with spun sugar that allowed me to enter some pretty rare competitions. He was a technician and he held Auguste Escoffier in the highest regard.

Of the many things I gleaned from Chef, I was later able to incorporate the classical dishes he taught me how to prepare, and then I put them on intricate and colorful California cuisine plates.

It’s kinda how I made my mark on the west coast, having worked from San Clemente to San Francisco.

When I hit ‘em with both guns blazing, Northwest Ohio was knocked on their ass.

Got it just right.

Stay well.

Published by maddogg09

I am an unmotivated genius with an extreme love for anything that moves the emotional needles of our lives.

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