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Why are Chefs so Rude?

Why are Chefs so Rude?

Why are chefs so rude and do they really throw things at you in the kitchen? 
These are questions I have been asked by guests many times. 

Hope they weren’t referring to me or something I did? Better hope not...for their sake!

I have always answered these questions by pulling from my experiences in the field and it usually goes something like this:


“Some of them are (rude) and yes, there were some, when I worked in larger kitchens, who used your space to aim whatever they were holding and see how close they to you they could get it without requiring a hospital visit.”
“So I guess my answer is yes, some are BUT they are not all like that and mostly it is definitely a thing of the past.”

 

Am I telling the truth? Well yes I think so but there is always a but…
Ego? Attitude? Big head? Call it what you want, there’s still a bunch of them out there and in my linear world one goes with the other. Ego, big headed attitude = Rude

 

I can’t lie; I have worked with a fair share of chefs that have been rude. I can’t say I was endeared to them, maybe the opposite, I steered clear of them and their attitude. It was harder to steer clear of the ones who threw things at you, that just scared the shit out of you.

 

Certainly there is a stigma behind the “rude chef”. How they get by in today’s employment climate I’m not sure. Maybe they are hidden away from public eyes or surrounded by a fantastic staffing structure that makes up for the bad penny that has such talent he/she can’t be re-trained or let go. For sure some of the worst offenders are amazing chefs and many employers are still afraid to tackle the rudeness for fear of loosing their superstar, many are not I’m happy to say.

If you divide “chef rudeness” into two halves it’s a bit easier to understand.

The first half is customer related:


As much as I’ll agree that chefs with ego or attitude are a pain in the ass, I’ll venture to say that often there are other factors in play when they are dishing out the profanities. 
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone rudeness to customers, I think it is unnecessary but often it’s the customer who forgets he or she is a guest.
They may be a paying guest but manners can be and often are forgotten by a customer who thinks they can say what they like to you and still be right.
If I had a camera every time a guest was rude to me it would make for incredible viewing. I bet if the people dolling out the rudeness saw themselves they would be pretty sheepish.
Chefs, the good ones anyway, have pride in their craft and work hard to make every detail of their dishes or their kitchens work. The service deadline alone brings enough stress to warrant a bit of profanity, but to have a tactless customer criticise what may have taken 150% effort and energy to produce is bound to test the boundaries the mildest mannered chef. I know, I’ve been on the receiving end of that and it’s pretty darn hard to bite your tongue.

 

The second half is work mate related:
Any chef who is an asshole to you in the kitchen is most probably treating you like they were treated when they were training. A time when apprentice chefs were made to do the worst and most demeaning jobs in the kitchen….and be thankful for opportunity. It wasn’t unusual for apprentices to spend their entire shift peeling potatoes, taking out the trash and if there was time, cleaning the deep fat fryer that was still hot from service.
Times and working conditions have moved on since then, thankfully, and while in my opinion it is still necessary to start at the bottom, learn the roots of the kitchen and grow through the ranks to become a knowledgeable chef it is our approach as roll models and employers that mould tomorrows culinary superstars. Empathy, constructive criticism, nurturing and respect all play a part in how chefs will act tomorrow.

 

So, why are chef’s so rude? 
It might be for show in some places or something to get viewer ratings in the rash of culinary shows on TV. 
For the most part, rudeness is not an acceptable part of today’s service industry so rude chefs are a dying breed, especially in North America and Asia where customer service is paramount. 
Some parts of the world have a long way to go to dismiss what I call “arrogant chef syndrome”. Certainly where I live in SW France it is still an acceptable practice and I see them all the time. I am often left reeling in embarrassment after hearing guests’ stories about their less than glowing chef encounters.
Industry education and appreciation is the key and establishments just need to catch up and get with the times. 

Drink This: 

Bathtub Gin - Something to relax you after long day in the kitchen!

Bathtub Gin

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