Amuse Bouche: The Kid Just Gets It
It was a night after service and I was having a couple of pints with my Chef’s at the time. I was in my early twenties and still didn’t have a fucking clue as to what I was doing (even still trying to figure it out honestly). After service you still have the adrenaline going from the dinner rush flowing through ya. Most nights when you’re out after service, you end up talking about how it all went. What went wrong, what was awesome, and for fuck sakes what was with that straight shot group of 20?! Thankfully, on this particular night, it was a great service and we were excited to talk about the food we served and what we had accomplished!
Everyone is sitting at the table of our local pub, but in my little corner I’m with my Executive Chef and both Chefs de Cuisine. We’re just shooting the shit and it’s an awesome time. I’m just listening to what they have to say and taking it all in...until I decided to open my mouth. At this point I was greener than goose shit, but I still had only ever been a cook. I was still in the early stages of my growth in this industry. So I start talking and adding onto the points that they were making. For the life of me still to this day, I don’t remember what I said. But I know that I went off for a minute or two just saying what I felt at the time (with a little help from the labatt five-o). As I finish my spiel I take a sip of my drink and think, “Ah shit Ty, you just made an ass of yourself again didn’t ya?” Only to see my Chef take a minute, pat one of my CDC’s on the shoulder and tell him,
“See, this kid just gets it”
Now I’m a little older, slightly wiser, and have been through the ringer a couple of times and still came out with minimal damage. Hence why I still love what I do each and every service. But the fun thing about being in this industry is being on the other side of that conversation. Seeing those young cooks come up. They’re shy and don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing when they start. If you think you do as a young cook, than this thing about ‘just putting food on plates’ will become a lot more difficult than you think.
It takes time. You don’t have all the answers and Chefs will not expect you to. Often times, you already have the answer that was taught to you, maybe sometimes without you even knowing it. But it’s really cool to see a young cook come into their own; to see them making the right moves and work with the right speed. See how they evolve their mise en place from novice to boss level. Or when they show you a plate and you sense that they’re starting to realize how to use the flavours and ingredients they’ve been working with for a period of time. It all starts to come together and is a beautiful thing.
Chefs see everything you’re doing! Don’t get it twisted. It’s when they see this evolution happening in young careers that they will recognize you more. They see the effort, and there’s not many things that top a Chef’s “happy list” more than seeing initiative and hard work. But overall, it’s more than that. It’s having the understanding on what we do each day; for ourselves, for each other grinding on the line, and for our Chefs. It’s the respect for the craft, the animals, and the produce that we are so lucky to create with. Always stay attentive and always have that respect.
“This kid just gets it” was one of the best compliments in my young career and it still sticks with me. I have the pleasure of working with some young cooks now that I would say the same thing to, as I know Chefs around the city would feel the same with their apprentices. You gotta put the work in. I want each young chef to be told that someday. My Chef at the time might not have realized the impact it had on me, but it is most definitely not lost.
I tasted a dish by a young cook the other night that hit every note to what our style of cuisine is. That’s why I thought about this story, and wanted to write about what that memory brought back for me. I told them how impressed I was by it and how they hit it out of the park. For the young cooks out there, it’s a lot of hard work to make your way in this business. But Chefs will recognize your talent when it comes through what you put forth. Don’t just talk at your Chefs, have a conversation. Talk about food, life, and how to be better each day both on and off the line. I’ve always said how fun this gig is, and as I myself progress each day, I’m excited to see the young ones come up and succeed with me.