December 9, 2019
Cocaine in kitchens, the widespread impact of a South Park episode on Yelp and review culture. A chef brings Geth behind the scenes of restaurant kitchens and then gets deep and reflective.
193 — Philosopher Chef
[00:00:05] CHRIS: Hello to everybody sprinting through the woods. It’s Beautiful Anonymous. It’s one hour, one phone call. No names, no holds barred.
[00:00:14] THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one-on-one. I think it would be more fun and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:00:28] CHRIS: Hello, everybody. Chris Gethard here. Thanks for listening to Beautiful Anonymous. Hey, if you’re in San Francisco, don’t hit the fast forward on the intro right here. We’re doing a live taping and we haven’t been doing many live tapings lately. San Francisco Sketch Fest is having us out doing that, and they’re also very kindly doing a tribute to the Chris Gethard show panel where me and a bunch of the other people from the show are going to be there showing clips and having a Q&A celebrating a thing that was very special in my life. So feel free to check that out, too. No pressure. ChrisGeth.com. Okay. This week’s episode I looked at the clock at one point was like, oh, wow, this flew by. This guy’s a chef. And I think we all know you can tell from TV these days, there’s so many cooking shows, so many personalities that it’s like, oh, that’s like a hidden, high pressure world with its own systems in place. And you don’t really know about them if you’re not actually working in that world. And it was just cool. Just cool to hear his perspective. And then also he started talking about his philosophy on faith and politics and why he wants to prioritize being a human. It’s really cool. And he also tells us how much cocaine is consumed in kitchens. Anyway, enjoy the call.
[00:01:44] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful/Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
[00:01:52] CHRIS: Hello.
[00:01:56] CALLER: Hey. How are you doing?
[00:01:57] CHRIS: I’m pretty good, I took a, I took a red eye two nights ago.
[00:02:00] CALLER: Is this Chris?
[00:02:02] CHRIS: Yeah, this is Chris, man. I took a red eye–
[00:02:03] CALLER: You’ve been going back and forth, L.A. and New York, right?
[00:02:07] CHRIS: Ooh, a whole bunch. It’s good because I’m working. But, uhh, taking, you know, I’m acting like a crazy person. They’re bringing me out to act on a show that I can’t talk about yet, but I’m excited to tell you about later. And they’ll fly me out and be like, you’re only filming for one day. And I’m like, well, I got to fly back cause I gotta get back to my son. So then I’m staying in L.A. for like 20 hours. One night I stayed there for 14 hours. That’s insane behavior. Anyway, that’s how I’m doing. How are you?
[00:02:32] CALLER: I am well, and your life is completely different from mine. I’ve flown once, I’ve flown once in my life, so I don’t understand the back and forth kind of lifestyle.
[00:02:43] CHRIS: Really? You’ve been on an airplane one time?
[00:02:45] CALLER: One time. And when we landed it bounced on the runway and I have been terrified ever since.
[00:02:52] CHRIS: So you wouldn’t even take the flight home. Would you rent a car, get a train?
[00:02:56] CALLER: Well, we flew home, but after that it was, uhh, I try to drive everywhere I can now.
[00:03:00] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:03:02] CALLER: Umm, not to give locations away, I just go up and down the United States, about twelve hours is where family’s at, so…
[00:03:11] CHRIS: Oof!
[00:03:12] CALLER: That’s not a horrible drive, but–
[00:03:13] CHRIS: Pretty…pretty bad–
[00:03:15] CALLER: It’s nice to see the scenery because, you know, America is absolutely beautiful.
[00:03:18] CHRIS: It is, it is. It’s incredible. And you can have house roads.
[00:03:22] CALLER: I can’t I can’t lie right now. I’m very nervous. I listen to your show all the time. I just can’t believe I got through. So, just trying to calm my nerves right now. I’m sorry if it’s a little awkward right now, so.
[00:03:35] CHRIS: Well, first of all, you’re killing it. There’s no need to be nervous. I don’t really see you. What’s the worst that can happen at the end of the day? You know, you’re talking to a guy who, uhh, I mean my son vomited on my face a couple weeks ago. Like it’s, we’re good. Nothing to be scared of here.
[00:03:54] CALLER: Okay. Well, it’s…I’m actually a chef. Umm, being a chef you see a lot of crazy things, sometimes some crazy people as well. And I’ve just got some stories I’d like to get out there and and hopefully bring some laughter to the world.
[00:04:11] CHRIS: That’s awesome. I’d love to talk to a chef. That’s like a whole–I like that because it’s like, there’s so many, uhh, so many like shows about cooking now and where you see chefs in action and as judges and stuff. But it’s still kind of a world that plays by its own rules. And there’s a lot of sort of behind the scenes stuff most of us will never know. I think it’s cool.
[00:04:33] CALLER: It’s definitely a world that is glamorized on TV. But when you step into it, most of the time you’re stepping into a wolf den and you’re starting as a pup and hopefully you’re getting ready to be a master wolf, who can you know now lead a pack to do the same thing in the kitchen. It’s, it’s, it’s a rough and tumble world. But at the same time, you know, it’s a certain breed that loves it. So…
[00:04:59] CHRIS: That’s cool.
[00:05:00] CALLER: But, uhh, first thing I wanna get out there is, uhh, I have met and I’ve seen so many stand up comedians talk about Florida, and I’ve heard the cliche of Florida, and I have to tell you, the craziest people I’ve ever worked with all from Florida.
[00:05:20] CHRIS: All from Florida, all the crazy people are from Florida. A lot of, are there are a lot of crazy, are there a lot of crazy Floridians in the kitchens of our restaurants and we don’t even know the threat that we’re under?
[00:05:32] CALLER: I wouldn’t say threat. I would say amusement for the kitchen staff. But day to day in the kitchen is never the same. You’re always getting something different. And I’m sure you can relate to that, because you’re a new father and have a show going on and doing this, I’m sure every day is completely different for you, so.
[00:05:52] CHRIS: It is. And I can’t complain about that. It’s pretty fun. I’m lucky, I have a good life where I get to fly all over, I want to make sure I don’t come off like a complainer about a very good life. So. What makes the Florida people so crazy? What are they doing back there in those kitchens that we should know about? Is it fair to call them kitchens, is that how chefs refer to them?
[00:06:12] CALLER: Absolutely. Yeah. Kitchen is plenty fine.
[00:06:15] CHRIS: Oh, before we get into that, can I ask you, like chef is a title, right? Like people call you chef, like a student would call a teacher, a professor. Like you’re not a teacher, you’re a professor. It’s a sign of respect, people say thank you, Chef.
[00:06:28] CALLER: Yes, sir. Yes. Yeah. That’s exactly how it works. And now I’ll drop the sir, now. I am from the south, but I don’t want to give the…I know that some people find it, especially from the north, find it disrespectful.
[00:06:39] CHRIS: Oh, no, no. To be called sir?
[00:06:43] CALLER: Sir.
[00:06:44] CHRIS: I love it. I don’t think any…is that a northern stereotype that we don’t like being called, sir?
[00:06:50] CALLER: I’ve heard a lot of people that have moved to the south who say, “my father is sir”, or “I’m too old to be called sir”. But it’s just a sign of respect among peers. Yeah.
[00:07:02] CHRIS: Yeah, no, I’m into it.
[00:07:03] CALLER: People my age, they call me sir.
[00:07:04] CHRIS: I’m into it, sir. I’m into it, chef.
[00:07:07] CALLER: [laughter]
[00:07:09] CHRIS: How do you, how do you go from being a cook to a chef. Who certifies that?
[00:07:15] CALLER: Honestly, it’s whatever. You get to be a sous chef, which, “sous” is “second”, it means you’re the chef’s second hand. Or you get to be a executive chef. You run a restaurant. You run that kitchen. Once you achieve that title, like once you achieve that position, then you are Chef. Before that, you’re just line cook or there’s different positions that are mostly French words like “garde manger” is a French word. But basically it means like gardener, you’re making salads, you’re making vinaigrette, things like that. Cold sides.
[00:07:53] CHRIS: Wow, it’s a whole culture here. Okay, I wanna make sure we say it really quickly, though. Well, what’s up with these Floridians? What makes them nuts?
[00:08:02] CALLER: I don’t know what makes them nuts, but I know that it’s definitely something that’s in the culture. And I have to say, I’m at work right now. But I’ve told them I’m taking an hour off real quick to talk to you, so. I’m just going in the restaurant to grab my coffee real quick. But it is a…it is something that is definitely a culture thing. It’s definitely almost like a New Jersey, no offense, New Jersey guido kind of thing…
[00:08:33] CHRIS: Mhmm, mhmm.
[00:08:34] CALLER: …where it’s just wild and crazy, Jersey Shore. I don’t know if there’s an explanation for you for why that’s that way.
[00:08:42] CHRIS: I have my theories.
[00:08:45] CALLER: Well, for me, I guess the theory is that it’s hot and it stays hot. And that can kind of drive people crazy sometimes.
[00:08:53] CHRIS: Yeah, yeah. And can I ask, are you, are you an executive chef?
[00:09:00] CALLER: No, sir. Not right now. I’m actually working under a chef right now, but I was before. And this is a different job that I’m now working. So…
[00:09:13] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:09:15] CALLER: And I’m actually at, I’m actually at a — no, not going to name it, but a in-general smokehouse barbecue restaurant, so…
[00:09:23] CHRIS: A smokehouse barbecue…
[00:09:23] CALLER: My job entails rubbing meat, putting any kind of protein on the smoker, making sure that it gets proficient smoke, taking it off when it’s, when it’s ready. Preparing ribs. Turkey, we do turkey. Things like that.
[00:09:38] CHRIS: And the executive chef designs that menu, right? They go and break it all down and then they team up with other chefs they respect and like at your level, who are all about executing that menu. And then the sous chefs are there to provide for your needs in the process. Is that how it goes?
[00:09:54] CALLER: Yes, sir. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And the, the chef, mostly when he’s doing the menu, it’s all about price. It’s all about making sure that you can make the most money off of what you’re putting on your menu.
[00:10:04] CHRIS: Uh huh.
[00:10:05] CALLER: And that you’re putting things that go on your menu…it’s very, it’s it’s detailed. But, you know, you don’t want to have something on your menu that you only use for one item. So that’s when you go to restaurants, you’ll see they use the same sauce on multiple dishes or they use different jam they have on multiple sandwiches, or something like that so that they’re not just using one product for one item.
[00:10:28] CHRIS: So that’s it. I’ve never thought of that because I bet it’s also a matter of storage, right? Like you don’t have room for endless amounts of stuff, so you better get creative.
[00:10:36] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:10:37] CHRIS: Yeah. Because it’s like, uh…
[00:10:39] CALLER: And here’s the other–
[00:10:40] CHRIS: Yeah, go for it, tell me something else–
[00:10:41] CALLER: Here’s the other thing real quick. It’ll blow your mind because this blows everybody’s mind. If you look at a menu item on a menu at a restaurant, if you, for the most part, this is a tool, if you divide by three, that’s what it cost the kitchen to make that item.
[00:10:58] CHRIS: Really?
[00:11:01] CALLER: If you see something on the menu is nine dollars, if you divide by three to make easy math, that cross the kitchen, three dollars to make.
[00:11:07] CHRIS: That’s what they spent on those ingredients.
[00:11:11] CALLER: Generally, yes, sir. That’s that’s that’s the goal for a restaurant is to keep it at that at that level.
[00:11:15] CHRIS: And you have to pay whoever is involved in back there and preparing it, you have to pay the server. So there’s some of the markup and then after that is the profit. That seems fair to me. That seems fair, actually.
[00:11:26] CALLER: Uh huh.
[00:11:27] CHRIS: It’s shocking to hear at first, and then when you think about it, you’re like, oh, no, that’s just, yeah, that seems like smart money. Yeah, that seems like smart money management. Yeah.
[00:11:35] CALLER: But now that we’re into the restaurant, there was a guy that I have worked with, no names mentioned, does not currently work with me anymore. But Fourth of July came around this year and he had a firecracker go off in his hand outside of work…
[00:11:54] CHRIS: Ooh.
[00:11:55] CALLER: …thankfully. And he he was a dishwasher and he came in, and this was a Floridian, and he, uh…stereotypically looked like Joe Dirt.
[00:12:08] CHRIS: OK.
[00:12:09] CALLER: Had a long mullet.
[00:12:10] CHRIS: Any Florida listeners are getting progressively more furious about this. I’m letting you know.
[00:12:15] CALLER: No offense to any Floridians. No offense there. I’ve met plenty of great Floridians. Love Disney World, not too afraid of alligators. I think it’s a great place.
[00:12:25] CHRIS: I love the Everglades.
[00:12:26] CALLER: I would not not go there.
[00:12:27] CHRIS: Love the Everglades. Love the Keys. There’s a great fruit stand down near the Everglades called Robert Is Here. Great place.
[00:12:33] CALLER: Oranges are wonderful.
[00:12:35] CHRIS: Florida has a lot going for it. That being said, every Floridian knows there are, as you said, Joe Dirt haircuts down there.
[00:12:42] CALLER: [laughter]
[00:12:43] CHRIS: OK, so this guy blows his hand off, comes back to work.
[00:12:46] CALLER: And comes back to work the next day and has a heavy prescription of painkillers.
[00:12:53] CHRIS: Uh oh.
[00:12:55] CALLER: Proceeds to walk outside and to pass out, fall asleep, however you want to describe it, into our wood ash pile, where we dump old ashes from the wood that we used to smoke barbecue.
[00:13:09] CHRIS: Eww…that’s sounds…[laughter]
[00:13:10] CALLER: Yes.
[00:13:11] CHRIS: Disgusting.
[00:13:12] CALLER: Well. Well, my my manager, the Chef walks out there and was very kind about it and woke him up and said, “you know, if you want to go home and go to the doctor, whatever, I’ll give you a ride.” You know, very nice about it. And we are on a very busy highway, not to mention the highway, a very busy highway. And the guy proceeds to get up and run across the highway without looking either way. And somehow Frogger’ed his way across the highway…
[00:13:42] CHRIS: [laughter]
[00:13:44] CALLER: …and dropped to the other side where there was woods for as far as you could see, ran into the woods, and I have never seen him since.
[00:13:51] CHRIS: Really? That’s how he went?
[00:13:52] CALLER: No. Nobody I work with I’ve seen him since. It was…that’s how he quit. That’s how he quit for sure.
[00:13:58] CHRIS: Was he running south? Maybe he ran back to Florida.
[00:14:02] CALLER: It was not the right direction.
[00:14:03] CHRIS: Maybe he ran back to Florida.
[00:14:08] CALLER: [laughter] It may have just been a calling. I have, I have no idea where he went. But it is one of the more interesting stories that I have been involved in because when I say not looking and running across, I mean not looking and running across and somehow did not get hit by cars. I don’t know how it happened.
[00:14:29] CHRIS: I do want to applaud your use of “Frogger’ed” as a verb. I thought that was very funny. I also want to clear for anybody who’s listening and trying to place the phrase, Joe Dirt was, of course, the 2001 David Spade classic where he plays a guy with a regrettable mustache and haircut.
[00:14:46] CALLER: Yes, yes. And if you can imagine, Joe Dirt running across the highway…
[00:14:51] CHRIS: I can.
[00:14:53] CALLER: …while being high on painkillers.
[00:14:55] CHRIS: Yah.
[00:14:56] CALLER: It was, it was very interesting. It was very interesting.
[00:15:00] CHRIS: I got–
[00:15:01] CALLER: And–
[00:15:01] CHRIS: Oh, yeah–
[00:15:02] CALLER: I’ll–
[00:15:02] CHRIS: Go for it.
[00:15:03] CALLER: Yeah. Go ahead, please.
[00:15:03] CHRIS: No, you go for it. Then I got a million questions for you.
[00:15:06] CALLER: OK, I got one more Florida Floridian story real quick for you. Umm, I worked with this Floridian. Umm…no true evidence, but me and my co — this is in a different restaurant — but me and my coworkers at the time were convinced that he had killed somebody or people in his life…
[00:15:26] CHRIS: [chuckles]
[00:15:26] CALLER: …because when we asked him where he was from, he said Florida, and then like eight or nine other states. And it was just like, oh, OK.
[00:15:36] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:15:37] CALLER: And when he quit, he left and said, “I’m going to this state,” which was a state that he had not previously mentioned that he was from.
[00:15:44] CHRIS: Now, have you researched it to see if all of these states don’t have the death penalty? That’s what Ted Bundy did.
[00:15:51] CALLER: That’s actually…I never thought of that.
[00:15:54] CHRIS: Let’s go ahead and look that up. Go ahead and look that up.
[00:15:56] CALLER: He was about 5 foot 5, bald, bald head and a giant devil tattoo on the back of his bald head.
[00:16:05] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:16:07] CALLER: And it was actually terrifying. But…
[00:16:09] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:16:10] CALLER: Yeah, it was real kind of…we were kind of convinced. And not to judge a book by its cover, but I worked with them for six months. So I kind of read the book a little bit.
[00:16:17] CHRIS: Well, look, you never want to judge a book by its cover, but when someone permanently draws a devil on the cover of the book…it’s not like you can’t…you’re not gonna unsee that.
[00:16:28] CALLER: But at the same time, it does make the book more interesting, doesn’t it?
[00:16:31] CHRIS: Certainly does. Now, look, we’ve slammed Florida enough, I would say. Let me ask you a couple questions about being a chef, because this is a whole world and I want to know about it.
[00:16:41] CALLER: OK.
[00:16:41] CHRIS: I’m excited.
[00:16:42] CALLER: Absolutely, anything.[00:16:43] CHRIS: So, you know, a lot of a lot of creative people work in restaurants. They’re servers, they’re bartenders, because flexible hours, things like this. I never did it because I’m such a physical klutz. And also I have a high level of anxiety and I always got the sense I would not be able to keep up with that pace and that anxiety, that pressure. When we’re out there in a restaurant…talk me through it. Like, how hard are you bracing yourself for the dinner hour? When does that hit? How long is that window when you’re working at maximum capacity? And is it like, is it like like a military level efficiency back there where everybody’s just going, going, going for a few hours at a time?
[00:17:25] CALLER: Well, see, I’m I’m the same way as you. I have high anxiety, but I found working in the kitchen I could focus on one or two things, three things at a time. And it actually helped reduce anxiety because I was constantly moving. I wasn’t thinking about things. I was just reacting to things.
[00:17:44] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:17:45] CALLER: Serving, I couldn’t do it because I just, I can’t talk to groups of people. I just. I just, I’m very awkward sometimes, so it doesn’t make for a good server, for anybody.
[00:17:55] CHRIS: I can’t and I can’t–
[00:17:56] CALLER: But–
[00:17:57] CHRIS: I can’t deal with, the Irish Catholic in me can’t deal with the idea of anyone being upset with me. People get upset at servers. I’ve had servers–
[00:18:05] CALLER: I’m the same way, I’m the same way.
[00:18:06] CHRIS: I’ve had servers serve me literally a meal I did not ask for. Something that was clearly meant for a different table, and I will eat it rather than make them feel bad. I have done that. I’ve eaten a meal that was not intended for me. Because I don’t want to make a server feel bad. So when you’re back there, though, so you’re just, here’s your two or three things, go. And then everyone else in that room has their two or three things, go. Am I imagining this right?
[00:18:34] CALLER: Yes, and I played sports growing up, I played football, basketball and baseball. I mean, I played everything. And honestly, being in a kitchen is almost like being on a sports team. You’re on your team, you have your job. And if everybody does their job the right way, you win. It all works out fine, and the game plan goes as you as you scripted.
[00:18:54] CHRIS: You’re a cog in the machine.
[00:18:54] CALLER: But as soon as somebody doesn’t — exactly. And as soon as somebody doesn’t do their job, or as soon as somebody falls behind, it’s somebody else’s job now to step over and be a teammate and help them. And it is kind of militaristic, but it isn’t as regimented. It isn’t as if…it’s like you said, it’s more artful. It’s more…sometimes you just have to fly with things, and you just have to make this work, and you have to make that work. Or if you don’t have this sauce, you have to, because we have people come in all the time and say, “can I have this type of sauce?” that we don’t have on the menu, and I will say, “yes, I will make it real fast,” and just whip it up. And there you go.
[00:19:30] CHRIS: And you have to know that off the top of your head? They come in–
[00:19:34] CALLER: Either that, or now in the age of Google, it’s wonderful. [laughter]
[00:19:37] CHRIS: Oh, so you can you can bust out the phone and go, alright, I can make this thing.
[00:19:41] CALLER: Absolutely. But the most important thing that I do want people to know that are listening, I know that phones are bacteria vectors. I wash my hands before I use my phone. I wash my hands after I use my phone before I make your food and I wear gloves. So I promise you that I’m up on the issue.
[00:19:58] CHRIS: A lot of hand sanitizer flying around in kitchens.
[00:20:01] CALLER: A lot of hand sanitizer, a lot of gloves. Lots of soap, high, like high industrial soaps.
[00:20:07] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:20:07] CALLER: Just making sure everything is clean all the time.
[00:20:09] CHRIS: Yeah. Because you got the health board coming in.
[00:20:11] CALLER: Absolutely. I mean, that’s the one thing, when they come in…if you are ever at a restaurant, another restaurant tip, if you’re ever at a restaurant when the health department comes in for that restaurant and you see people panicking, you should walk out.
[00:20:27] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:20:27] CALLER: Because that means they’re not ready for their check.
[00:20:30] CHRIS: Yeah. That means they’re the types of people that…they try to floss right before they go to the dentist, in other words.
[00:20:36] CALLER: Exactly.
[00:20:37] CHRIS: They don’t floss every night that you know.
[00:20:41] CALLER: Yes. So they’re trying to clean things right before it happens. And I’ve seen it happen before. And I will just, “OK, I see. Thank you very much for the service, I’m out,” because it’s–
[00:20:49] CHRIS: Now–
[00:20:50] CALLER: Because it’s just, it’s a sign.
[00:20:51] CHRIS: Let’s segue into something similar.
[00:20:54] CALLER: OK.
[00:20:55] CHRIS: And I’m not certain, I’m not certain…you know, you’ve indicated the general region you’re in. I don’t know the city you’re in, if there’s like a restaurant scene there. And if your restaurant’s a part of it. I once read an article…I think it was in The Washington Post? I think. It’s fascinating. It was about how Washington area restaurants deal with food reviewers. And it’s these high end restaurants. And it made it out like, if I remember right, it was like, reviewers try to make sure people don’t know what they look like, because people have mechanisms in place. There are restaurants that keep books with photos of reviewers so that they can be…and all the maitre d’s know who they are. There’s stories repeated–
[00:21:36] CALLER: [laughing] You are hitting so many buttons right now.
[00:21:38] CHRIS: They try to track–
[00:21:38] CALLER: You’re hitting everything right on the head.
[00:21:40] CHRIS: They try to track the movements of these people so they can get like a half hour head start if they realize they’re headed in their direction. Is that is that stuff you’ve dealt with?
[00:21:48] [TAPE RECORDER SOUND EFFECT]
[00:21:50] CHRIS: This reviewer culture, it’s a real thing. It’s intense. You’re gonna wanna hear all about it. It’s fascinating stuff. Speaking of reviews, many of the people who advertise on our show advertise products with tons of five star reviews. So check these out. Use the promo codes. Helps the show when you do. We’ll be right back.
[00:22:09] [AD BREAK]
[00:22:12] CHRIS: Thanks to all our advertisers, we’re back to share the high pressure world of dealing with reviewers. Let’s go. Is that is that stuff you’ve dealt with?
[00:22:22] CALLER: I won’t mention it. And I worked in the back where we did hot food. So I didn’t roll sushi, but I worked at a sushi restaurant that was rated top 25 in the country nationally.
[00:22:34] CHRIS: Wooof, we’re talking like Michelin star level?
[00:22:38] CALLER: It wasn’t that high of level, but it was it was right there. I mean, it’s fine dining. Twenty dollars a roll, like expensive, nice stuff.
[00:22:46] CHRIS: So you’re–
[00:22:47] CALLER: Good, good sushi.
[00:22:48] CHRIS: Is it fair to say it’s a restaurant where maybe the chef is chasing a Michelin star? That type where the chef can see it and say, ooh, okay.
[00:22:55] CALLER: It’s the type of it’s the type of restaurant where they can go to Japan and say, we want a chef who’s been trained and they can bring somebody back because that’s what happened when I was there.
[00:23:04] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:23:05] CALLER: They brought back a chef who is in his 60s and was a sushi master.
[00:23:08] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:23:09] CALLER: So they’re trying.
[00:23:10] CHRIS: So talk to me about this reviewer culture.
[00:23:12] CALLER: But at this restaurant, it was the most fi–, it was the finest dining restaurant I’ve ever worked. And behind the hostess stand, there was pictures of every local reviewer. Multiple, from angles, so they could tell. There were names for every one of them. So if they did come in, they could say, “how are you doing Ms. or Mr. So-and-so?” It was like a table put off to the side that was just for reviewers, VIP owners, people who would– celebrities who would come in. That’s their table. So it was the best of treatment for them. But there’s also a culture of people who are not reviewers who go into restaurants, dressed, finely dressed like they are a reviewer and say, “yeah, I work for so-and-so paper,” and the hostess doesn’t want to be the person to say, “well, let me fact check this real quick,” or “let me…” So they get to sit at that table, they get the finest food, they leave for free without paying and they’re not a reviewer.
[00:24:18] CHRIS: Really? Because I’ve also read that some reviewers will go in under aliases because they want to pay–
[00:24:24] CALLER: Yes, they will.
[00:24:25] CHRIS: And they want to make sure that they’re not getting service that doesn’t represent everyone’s experience.
[00:24:30] CALLER: But that restaurant, you’re you’re just not getting past them without somebody knowing who you are. Unless you’re wearing a wig and a different type of, you know, beard or whatever.
[00:24:43] CHRIS: Do they do that here? Would they do that?
[00:24:46] CALLER: I have no idea. I would not put it past them. In the city I was in, there was a reviewer who was famously harsh, even on great restaurants. The person was out– it almost seemed the person was out to find the bad instead of taking the good. Or balance the good with the bad. It was always just harsh. And that person has a lot of influence on the city. So that person would never get by without wearing a wig and whatnot, but it’s definitely a culture that is on its own.
[00:25:28] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:25:29] CALLER: It’s definitely it’s definitely culture that I’ve seen…again, I mean, there’s just…there’s a lot of there’s a lot of craziness. There’s a lot of..it’s one of the…we were talking about it with one of my chefs the other day, and we told this young kid, we said “before, you want to get into this industry, remember this: the food and beverage chef industry has the highest rate of divorce, drug addiction and depression.”
[00:25:54] CHRIS: Wow. Well, I’ve always heard I was going to try to find a classy way to bring it up. But since you brought it up, I have heard from friends of mine who do work in restaurants in New York. And, you know, I have friends who work in high end places, fine dining places in New York. I have heard that kitchens and cocaine can go hand-in-hand. True or false?
[00:26:17] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:26:18] CHRIS: Cocaine is just a thing in kitchens.
[00:26:20] CALLER: I have, I have seen chefs at restaurants, not be named, who would after the hours or before, right before the dinner rush would happen would line up cocaine on a stainless steel counter that we had for storage food and would just blow it off there. And luckily, I’ve never had the problem. I’ve luckily had the will to say no thank you every time. But I’ve seen people go into holes and down roads that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
[00:26:54] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:26:54] CALLER: And, you know, it’s it’s dark stuff. I have friends and people I’ve worked with who…that aren’t with us anymore.
[00:27:02] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:27:03] CALLER: You know, drunk driving is a huge one.
[00:27:04] CHRIS: Right.
[00:27:05] CALLER: Because you’re staying late after work and you’re drinking at the bar–
[00:27:08] CHRIS: And you’ve been stressed out for hours, so you want a shot.
[00:27:10] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:27:11] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:27:12] CALLER: Absolutely. And one, one turns to two. I think there’s a Modest Mouse song that says “one, one more 20 more” or something like that. You know, it doesn’t end. And that’s exactly how it works for some people. You know, you take one, two, three. It’s just…I’ll drive home ’cause I do it every night. And…it’s just it’s it’s a big problem. It really is, and thankfully, though, there are a lot of groups in the area that I work for, a lot of generous owners of restaurants that are high class restaurants who have started N.A. groups, that have started A.A. groups that are specifically just for restaurants. And no offense to anybody, but they don’t have a religious affiliation. So it’s something that people who…there’s a high rate of atheists in restaurants that I’ve noticed as well, which I’m as I am as well, but…
[00:28:02] CHRIS: So if you get, if you start working in a restaurant where there’s a high pressure kitchen, you generally don’t believe in God afterwards? [laughing] You’re living an extra existentialist nightmare that chases faith out of your life.
[00:28:16] CALLER: I don’t…It’s funny that you say it that way. I don’t know if it’s that. I just think it’s like…I think it’s a lot of people who found this as their last option. And so it’s a lot of people who got cast out. I’ve worked with a lot of people who were outcasts. They got cast out by society. They were people who didn’t get a chance in high school, that didn’t get lucky with, you know, college…that didn’t get their associate’s, and it’s just the easiest thing to get into…to start cooking or to be a server. I mean, it’s…and I think that that kind of, and I don’t I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way at all, because, again, I’m an atheist. I I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But I think that people who don’t have a lot can find it hard to believe.
[00:29:05] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:29:05] CALLER: Because…why why would you, when you see people who have more? And if God was…if I believe in God, why isn’t he taking care of me kind of thing? You know? Umm…
[00:29:17] CHRIS: I feel like there’s a lot of truth in that right?
[00:29:17] CALLER: [unintelligible]
[00:29:20] CHRIS: The people who don’t have much–
[00:29:21] CALLER: What’s that?
[00:29:22] CHRIS: I think there’s so much truth in what you just said. The people who don’t have much in this world, I feel like very often they’re either the most faithful or the least. And I get it. When you put it like that, I’m like, I get it, I get it. You go to one extreme or the other. That makes a lot of sense. And I never thought about that, that a lot of people who come work in restaurants, they’re not people who went to culinary school. I imagine you did if you’re a chef. But there are people who–
[00:29:51] CALLER: I actually didn’t.
[00:29:52] CHRIS: You didn’t?! So you’re like a renegade.
[00:29:54] CALLER: I actually didn’t. I’ve actually just…keep my mouth…My motto is Training Day motto from Denzel: Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. You’ll learn something.
[00:30:03] CHRIS: Really?
[00:30:04] CALLER: And I try to do it every day. I try to just, even people who are…because the other day I had somebody who was below me, who just, he kind of told me he was like, dude, I was kind of down. And he was just like, “dude, to me, your life is great. Like, why the hell are you complaining?”
[00:30:19] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:30:20] CALLER: And that’s one of those things where it was just like, yeah, like, he’s right. Like, why? Why am I complaining? This is stupid. Like…we’re about to…I guess we’re kind of going down a different path of getting deep, but. I’m not very political. I lean left, but my thing is….I don’t understand when America became this place of people who either want to play victim or want to drag people down, and it’s just…we’re all Americans and we are all in the same boat together and we’re all trying to get to the same place and not helping each other and not understanding each other’s point of view, whether right or left. You know, whenever you hear somebody on the right say something racist and people just say he’s a white supremacist, instead of just saying, how can I reach him to make him see things our way? Like the right way. What can we do to save this person? Because to me, I see a lot of hurt behind what he’s, what that person’s saying. I don’t see bigoted, evil, racist. I see somebody who’s hurt and trying to take it out on somebody else.
[00:31:27] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:31:29] CALLER: And I think I think we get caught up, a lot of times…just reaction instead of thought.
[00:31:34] CHRIS: Well, I’ll tell you, last year I did a whole tour of the south and, granted, I’ll say this. I’m playing the cities, so they probably tend to be the bluer bubbles, right?
[00:31:48] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:31:49] CHRIS: A lot of my fan– I’m lucky that I’ve been doing this long enough, I’ve built a little bit of a fanbase. Those are people coming to me. So these are people who probably, you know, they like my viewpoint enough to buy a ticket. So they they probably, you know, are leaning more towards me. That being said, a lot of these shows were in clubs. Clubs aren’t always like that. Clubs, a lot of times it’s just local people who go, what are we gonna do tonight? Let’s go out to the club. They got good mozzarella sticks and maybe we’ll get a laugh or two. And did clubs in Atlanta, in Huntsville and Nashville, and I realized every city we went to and every club we did, everybody was so nice to each other. And, you know what I started saying on stage, I go, right now at this point in history I’m supposed to come down to Nashville and Alabama and Georgia, and I’m supposed to think everybody down here is like a gun-toting, close-minded hick, and I’m an artist from New York City, and you guys are all supposed to think that I’m some sensitive snowflake looking to encroach on traditions and blah, blah, blah. But when I talk to any people face to face in any of those cities, what we are with each other is kind, laughing, shaking hands, enjoying each other’s company. And that’s people I met at shows, that’s people I had meals with, everywhere. Strangers on the street. You know what I think? I think at the end of the day, Facebook is making a lot of money by furthering this dialog that we’re all supposed to not like each other. I think there’s a lot of money being made off of that by certain companies out there.
[00:33:21] CALLER: Oh, there absolutely is. And all of these social media sites, I mean, their the whole purpose at this point, which they realize is to just create the vision because it creates anger. And anger is a stronger emotion than happiness.
[00:33:36] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:33:36] CALLER: It’s easier to get angry than it is to get happy.
[00:33:39] CHRIS: Now I–
[00:33:39] CALLER: Because–
[00:33:40] CHRIS: Oh, absolutely. Finish your thought.
[00:33:42] CALLER: I would just say, I mean, if you even if you look at the news media their, their motto, if it bleeds, it leads. That’s proof of it. It’s easier to just see something that makes you mad and just latch onto it instead of, again saying, we’re all Americans and we live in a great country and we all have it amazingly great. Even if you aren’t doing amazingly well, you still probably have it great compared to somebody in a different country in the world.
[00:34:10] CHRIS: Absolutely.
[00:34:10] CALLER: Which is something that we should be proud of and we should talk about more.
[00:34:14] CHRIS: Absolutely. And…following this train of thought, I feel like there’s a lot of these storylines that that that were fed where, you know, maybe you’re pissed off at your boss. Or maybe maybe your kid’s getting bad grades, and you’re getting called in for these teacher meetings, or maybe you got laid off, and you got another job that you don’t like as much as the one you’re, the track you were on. And and you’re having a hard time. And then you go on a computer and you can go down a wormhole that goes, hey, rather than be mad at your own life, why not get mad at this other group of people that you don’t even interact with? Why don’t you get mad at the fact that trans people want to use certain bathrooms? Why don’t you get mad at that instead, and you’ll find corners of the internet where you can just be mad about that? I think there’s a lot of that going on. I think there’s a lot of that going on. Why don’t you get mad at what this politician said, or why don’t you get mad…it’s… And we’re being kind of directed into it so that we keep clicking links, man. That being said, I do want to say I’ve gone down this road before in the show and people always point out a lot of social movements, also driven in a positive way. There’s a lot of countries where people have risen up against dictators by connecting on social media. There’s a lot of places where there’s stories that need to be told and they’re being suppressed and they come out of social media. There’s movements where people unite in our country. So I understand the value of them, too. But the dangerous side is very real.
[00:35:43] CALLER: It’s it’s almost as…I think the only fix that you could have for social media, and I’ve heard people say this, because I think a big problem for social media is people getting banned and people feeling like I got banned because of this and not getting a reason. And I don’t know, I don’t really use social media all that much because I try not to bring anger and hatred into my life. I try not to get mad about things that I can’t control. But the biggest thing for me is if you just had… Unlimited Twitter and you just said here is a special room for Twitter. You can join this regular Twitter. And if you do something that we say is wrong, then you’re banned. Or regular Facebook. And if you say something that we think is wrong, you’re banned. But if you go to R rated Twitter, whatever they want to call it, then you can say whatever you want. Your opinions are out there. Nobody can ban you. It’s all for free. It’s free speech, whatever. And just have two different rooms and just say, you know what I mean? And control…the media that way. Control the narrative that way. Instead of bringing it to me, have me have to go to it.
[00:36:55] CHRIS: Now, you might be an atheist–
[00:35:56] CALLER: Does that make any sense?
[00:36:57] CHRIS: You might be an atheist, but are one philosophical chef, my friend.
[00:37:01] CALLER: [laughing]
[00:37:03] CHRIS: Now, do other chefs…is there a stigma that you didn’t go to culinary school? Are there other chefs that don’t want to accept you because you didn’t go to school for it?
[00:37:10] CALLER: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, I’m sure there’s a small percentage and I’m sure you have people who write in and say, or whatever, and say stuff. But again, you can’t get mad about things that people, say you can’t control. I would hold my ability up against anybody who went to culinary school. And if they don’t want to accept me because of that, then…I just want work. I’ll go somewhere else. That’s fine.
[00:37:32] CHRIS: And if you get the job done–
[00:37:32] CALLER: Like you know, it’s one of those things.
[00:37:34] CHRIS: It’s one of those cultures, too, can you get the job done? Then you got a place here. It’s a meritocracy.
[00:37:39] CALLER: And that’s how I feel about jobs in general and college in general. I don’t mean, I know you said it in the last episode, you don’t wanna, or the teacher episode, you don’t wanna talk bad about college…
[00:37:48] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:37:50] CALLER: …And I’m not talking about about college, but it’s…I feel like if you are qualified for a job and you could do a job, why do I have to court for college to prove that I can do a job?
[00:38:02] CHRIS: Unless it’s a job that needs it–
[00:38:04] CALLER: It’s a–
[00:38:04] CHRIS: If you’re going to be an engineer building our country’s bridges. Yeah. I want you go to college. I want that.
[00:38:09] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:38:10] CHRIS: But if you–
[00:38:11] CALLER: Absolutely.
[00:38:12] CHRIS: I feel like if my kid graduates, high school and goes, you know, I don’t really know what I want to do, then I feel like it’s fair to at least have a conversation of going, “Well, do you need to go spend some time in the real world and figure that out?” and then when you figure that out, if it is something that needs that, maybe you go.
[00:38:28] CALLER: I got you, I got a funny story for you is, uhh I actually went to college for two years, to not be a chef. Then I went to college for two years to be a teacher. And I went to school and I got to the point where I was doing an internship at a at a school, they called it like a teacher student program. And the school I got assigned to was where my brother was in school. My little brother was in school and I got assigned to my little brother’s classroom.
[00:38:57] CHRIS: Oh, no.
[00:38:57] CALLER: To be his, to be the teacher student aid, and everything was going fine. And it was all wonderful. And it was great. And we went on a field trip and, sorry Sally, we went out on a field trip, and we had them getting in a line, and my brother didn’t want to listen to me. And I said, “Little bro, get in line.” And he turned around, and the field trip in front of five different schools that were all at a play ,just said, “fuck you!”
[00:39:25] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:39:28] CALLER: And every single teacher’s mouth dropped. And I started laughing so hard. Every teacher looked at me like I was just…it was it was bad. And then–
[00:39:42] CHRIS: Was that the day you went and became a chef? Was that the day you were like, ahh I can’t do this?
[00:39:47] CALLER: To be honest, I was already working a job in a restaurant part time while going to school. And that was it because uhh…
[00:39:55] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:39:56] CALLER: Well, that wasn’t the exact reason. But that was one of the reasons because–
[00:40:00] CHRIS: Oh that’s so funny.
[00:40:02] CALLER: I, uhh, I couldn’t do it. I’m actually planning on never having children. So I’m going to ask you what being a father is like.
[00:40:12] CHRIS: It’s–
[00:40:12] CALLER: Because I hear everybody say that it just completely changes everything about you. But…
[00:40:17] CHRIS: Okay, here’s the bullet points, and then I want to get back to the chef stuff because I have a lot of questions. I want to make sure I do like a lightning round with you chef stuff, because I feel really ni–, it’s cool that we’ve got these philosophical directions. Okay, here’s the thing. Everybody talks about how exhausting it is to be a parent. How hard it is, how there’s all these nightmares. And I think the thing that’s such a shame is they do not tell you that it is legitimately so fun. It’s really fun. Kid makes me laugh. It’s exciting to see him do new things. I will tell you so honestly, and for years, I didn’t want to be a parent. I was so scared. Am I gonna…am I a stable enough person? Is that fair? When I was at the height of my depression, is it fair to bring a kid into a world with that foundation? Am I gonna pass it on to them? A lot of fears. But I can tell you it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been very lucky and I’ve lived a life where I’ve done a lot of cool things and it’s hands down the coolest one.
[00:41:19] [TAPE RECORDER SOUND EFFECT]
[00:41:21] CHRIS: Pause there. It’s totally true, having a kid, coolest thing I’ve ever done. Second coolest thing, I used to have P. Diddy’s number in my phone. Alright. Pause for some ads. Check them out. Use the promo codes. We’ll be right back.
[00:41:35] [AD BREAK]
[00:41:40] CHRIS: Let’s get back to the show. I also have hung out with Method Man twice. That’s pretty cool too, anyway. Yeah. Let’s get back to the show. But I’ve been very lucky and I’ve lived a life where I’ve done a lot of cool things, and it’s hands down the coolest one.
[00:41:54] CALLER: I just…I am not against children. I’m not against babies. I’m not against being a parent. I’m just, for me right now, I would, I feel like I would not be a good father and I would never want to do that to a child.
[00:42:08] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:42:09] CALLER: Because that is just the worst thing somebody could do.
[00:42:11] CHRIS: And if you get there someday, I highly recommend it. And if you don’t, it’s nice to hear that you have a head on your shoulders about it. Now was Yelp the worst thing in your life? Has Yelp ruined everyone’s lives when you work in restaurants?
[00:42:26] CALLER: At first, yes, absolutely. It was the worst thing and people hated it. But now that the public has caught onto it, it was really honestly, Chris, the turning was the South Park episode about Yelp.
[00:42:39] CHRIS: Amazing.
[00:42:41] CALLER: After that, people people stopped listening to it. They stopped getting mad about it. They stopped taking it seriously. And it’s made the world a better place for for kitchens and restaurants.
[00:42:51] CHRIS: Amazing.
[00:42:51] CALLER: It really has.
[00:42:52] CHRIS: Question two: you work in the world of barbecue. I love barbecue. I stopped eating meat in 2016. One of the things I miss the most is brisket. There’s a restaurant in New York called Hill Country on 26th Street, I love it. I miss it. I miss going. When I go to rest– barbecue restaurants, I only have to get sides. Is there any movement in the world of barbecue to start using meat alternatives, specifically things like the Impossible meat or Beyond Burger?
[00:43:19] CALLER: Not that I’m aware of yet. Something that I have been aware of is smoked tofu. I’ve seen people do that. I’ve seen smoked and fried tofu. I’m not a big fan of fried foods in general, but I work around them so much. And I just I try not to eat it because it’s, so much a day is bad. But I have seen things like that. I don’t know about the Impossible meat.
[00:43:43] CHRIS: You sound like you are in general not into this. And it’s okay if you’re not.
[00:43:48] CALLER: Oh no, absolutely–
[00:43:49] CHRIS: But the way you’re saying smoked tofu, I’m sensing you going like, “I’ve seen…I’ve seen smoked tofu.” Like, it doesn’t sound like there’s, an enthusiasm to it.
[00:43:58] CALLER: No, like at our restaurant, I do all the time as specials, like smoked vegetables that we will then sauté afterwards. And they are…I mean you just get a smoke flavor on them and then sautéing them in butter and they’re they’re fantastic. But it’s just not a big part of our clientele base. We don’t get a lot of people coming and saying, can I get something vegetarian?
[00:44:22] CHRIS: Fair. Because it’s not why you go to your place.
[00:44:25] CALLER: Yeah, it’s clear. Yeah, exactly.
[00:44:27] CHRIS: Okay. Next question, may I?
[00:44:31] CALLER: Go ahead. Yeah, absolutely. Shoot.
[00:44:33] CHRIS: No need to get political. I know you don’t want to. I just want to see if this is your experience. I once read a quote from Anthony Bourdain, rest in peace, who said something along the lines of, if you are someone who enjoys going to restaurants, just understand that you can’t also be someone who dislikes Mexicans. Because many times Mexican workers are the backbone, are the backbone of your dining experience.
[00:44:55] CALLER: [laughing]
[00:44:59] CHRIS: He said something along those lines. I’m not trying to be reductive. If I misquoted, I’m sorry. And I’m really not.
[00:45:04] CALLER: No, no–
[00:45:05] CHRIS: But he said something along those lines.
[00:45:08] CALLER: He is absolutely correct.
[00:45:10] CHRIS: Let me look up this quote…He is?
[00:45:16] CALLER: He is absolutely 100 percent correct. The…and I know that my right-wing friends aren’t gonna wanna hear this, but the best workers that I have, and that I look for during our busiest times of the year, are all Latin. They work harder than anybody that I can hire before. They are very respectful to everybody that works there that I’ve come across. I’ve had no problems with any kind of, quote unquote, criminality. And I just I couldn’t I couldn’t speak higher for allowing people who want to come in this country and work, to work. Legally.
[00:45:59] CHRIS: Here’s what Bourdain said. And I’m so glad to hear you say that, because I live in a neighborhood that is, as I would say, majority Hispanic. And I’m like, everyone here…And there’s a lot of people, you know, you hear that a lot of my neighborhood has has an illegal presence. But everybody just seems like they hang out with their families and go to church. Like, here’s what Bourdain said. He said, “The bald fact is that the entire restaurant industry in America would close down overnight and would never recover if current immigration laws were enforced quickly and thoroughly across the board. Everyone in the industry knows this. It’s undeniable. I know very few chefs who’ve even heard of a U.S. born citizen coming in the door to ask for a dishwasher, night cleanup or kitchen prep job. Until that happens, let’s at least try to be honest when discussing this issue.”
[00:46:47] CALLER: Well, let me tell you one thing, he’s absolutely correct. And if you’ve ever wondered how a bar, or a restaurant that has a bar, or a dance club, or whatever it is, is cleaned up overnight and gets ready at Saturday brunch? It’s most likely because of that. It’s most likely because of undocumented workers. Umm….it’s it’s it’s vital to the industry. He’s absolutely 100 percent correct. I mean, I don’t know what else to say about it. He’s just right.
[00:47:23] CHRIS: And I’m not…again, you were someone who said don’t like going political, I only bring it up to say that quote, opened my eyes to say, hardworking people are here. Let’s show respect for hardworking people. Next question.
[00:47:33] CALLER: Well, it’s not…
[00:47:34] CHRIS: Oh you wanna–
[00:47:35] CALLER: It’s not even that I’m not, it’s not even that I’m not political. It’s just that the way I stand now, especially in our climate, is I try not to join. I feel like a lot of people who are political have joined a sports team. Yeah, they are there on the blue team or the red team. And doesn’t matter what either side does. They’re going to root for their team to win the game. And I just I don’t want to be a part of that system.
[00:47:58] CHRIS: Yeah. I’m with you on that.
[00:48:00] CALLER: I want to be part of a system that that’s all based on merit. And if you’re a good human and you can do a good job, I want to vote for you. So.
[00:48:08] CHRIS: May ask you another question?
[00:48:09] CALLER: But, yes. Absolutely, please keep going.
[00:48:12] CHRIS: I am–
[00:48:13] CALLER: I would rather you steer the boat than me.
[00:48:15] CHRIS: Well, there’s just so much I wanna hear because your world fascinates me. I’m from New Jersey. New Jersey notoriously is the home of diners. Best diners in the world, 24 hour diners. You can show up at these places, three thirty in the morning, and if you want to order Eggs Benedict with lox instead of bacon or ham, you can do that. If you want to order lobster tails, you can do that. If you want to order spinach pie, you can do that, or if you want to order a vegetable lasagna you can do that. How do diners do that? That seems in the in the restaurant world, where diners are the opposite of fine dining…does this impress you as much as it impresses me?
[00:48:53] CALLER: For sure. And here’s here’s another little tidbit for the chefs out there, or people who want to be chefs. If you want to be a chef for a living and you want to do it growing up and work in a fine dining restaurant, you have to start at the bottom. Go get a job at a Denny’s. Go get a job at a Waffle House or a diner or whatever it is that’s around you. A Waffle Hut…I don’t know what they have up north that’s big, but get a job at a place like that. Learn how to crack eggs, learn how to cook bacon to order. And I guarantee you, you will be at a fine dining restaurant in 10, 15 years.
[00:49:28] CHRIS: Wow. Is it true that eggs are the hardest thing to cook?
[00:49:32] CALLER: Yes. Abso– eggs and rice.
[00:49:36] CHRIS: Rice. You’re saying rice, eggs and rice are the hardest things to cook? How come? I’ve never heard rice.
[00:49:42] CALLER: Rice is hard because it is either…for people who are foodies, for chefs, they will find it either overcooked or undercooked. It’s very hard to find the perfect balance where rice is fluffy, but not sticky. And it’s not crunchy or even a bit al dente. But again, it’s not sticky and it’s not runny or it doesn’t stick together. It’s just a perfect fluff. It’s very hard to do perfectly.
[00:50:11] CHRIS: I would imagine–
[00:50:12] CALLER: I even sometimes still mess my rice up.
[00:50:13] CHRIS: Really? Even though you worked at, I was going to say you worked at a very high end sushi place. I would have to imag– is rice like, did they treat rice like like a movie scene where you’re trying to defuse a bomb?
[00:50:23] CALLER: Yes, well, when you’re when you’re working at a sushi restaurant, too, you also have a rice steamer that you’re using to cook all of your rice in and you want to overcook it a little bit. So that is sticky.
[00:50:34] CHRIS: Oh, so it’s actually easier.
[00:50:37] CALLER: It’s actually easier because…well it’s process, what you want to do in a fish restaurant, you have to wash your rice. So when you cook it, before you cook it you have to run it under cold water. And you want to run it on under like a bucket or a mixing bowl and you want to wash the rice until what’s coming out under the bowl is clear water. And that means you’ve gotten all the starch out of it. So when you cook it, it’s going to be stickier and they’ll stick your rolls when you roll up.
[00:51:02] CHRIS: Now, have you ever heard of Dan Barber’s restaurant called Stone Barns at Blue Hill?
[00:51:11] CALLER: I’m sure I have.
[00:51:12] CHRIS: This is a place where you go in–
[00:51:13] CALLER: It sounds familiar.
[00:51:14] CHRIS: I went one time. I splurged. My wife and I went with friends of ours. You go. It’s farm to table, but you’re eating at the farm. And they come out and they explain it all dish to you. And what went into it. They served as a salad made of weeds they picked from in between their sidewalk cracks and it was the most delicious thing I ever had. They brought out bread and, dude, they they talked to us for 10 minutes. These little cubes of bread and everybody had their own waiter, holding a plate with a cube of bread on it. And they’re telling us, oh, people used to, you know, grow their wheat in the same way that brewers grow barley and and try to get everything to a certain strain. And now big corporate bread making has made all the wheat the same. And it’s…and we’re working with a lab at a university in Washington to get back to a customized wheat. And I’m sitting there going, just give me the bread! Give me the goddamn bread! It’s the bread. And then I bit it, and I was like, oh, I’ve never had bread. I’ve been eating Styrofoam my whole life. I’ve literally never tasted bread. There’s things like that.
[00:52:17] CALLER: If you have Italian wheat or European wheat, it’s completely different than American wheat. We have so far evolved and geneticized, our wheat to the point that it’s tasteless and basically useless nutrient wise.
[00:52:34] CHRIS: And do you see this with other foods with corporate farming today? Do you see this with corporate farming?
[00:52:40] CALLER: I mean, I have family in Ohio and my uncle is, was, a USDA inspection officer. And he had some horror stories for me, I don’t want to share anything because I don’t want to freak people out.
[00:52:55] CHRIS: [laughing] Well, maybe he can call someday.
[00:52:55] CALLER: [unintelligible]…that you don’t know what I’m talking about, but…
[00:52:56] CHRIS: Oh, boy. Now, tipping, does that extend to the kitchen staff, or is that just for the upfront servers, bartenders, et cetera?
[00:53:06] CALLER: That’s just for the upfront for the most part.
[00:53:08] CHRIS: Wooh.
[00:53:08] CALLER: Some high end restaurants, they will share. But for the most part, as a kitchen staff, you’re making hopefully a decent wage. Enough to provide yourself, because servers, especially where I work, they make $2.10, $2.12 an hour. So their tips are what they need to make their hourly wages.
[00:53:28] CHRIS: What?!
[00:53:31] CALLER: Yep, $2.12 an hour.
[00:53:33] CHRIS: $2.12 an hour to serve other people, man, this world we’re living is nuts.
[00:53:40] CALLER: And that’s why the worst type of people in the entire world, and if you’re listening, I’m not going to apologize. The worst type of people in the entire world are people who go into a restaurant, and no matter what happens, don’t leave a tip. Unless the server cusses you out, you should always leave a tip. Because that person may be having a bad day. Something may be going on that’s not their fault in the kitchen. There may be something that, you know, the drink machine’s broken or head chef walked out in the middle of a shift, which I’ve seen before. Head chef left in the middle of the shift and quit.
[00:54:14] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:54:15] CALLER: So now, the kitchen is just like Ichabod Crane running guideless with no head. And they are just lost. You know, it’s just it’s not always their fault. And you just can’t do that to people.
[00:54:27] CHRIS: I’ll tell you that. And I’m no hero, but when I lived, I spent about…six or seven years…one of my best friends from college, we moved to New York together. He worked his way up as a server and he’s now in this in the fine dining realm. And I would go out with him. And he, like you, militant, was like, we are overtipping everywhere we go. And it was just his policy as someone had worked in that world. I found a very eye opening and now even the worst service I get I’ll still tip like 15 percent because I’m like, you still got to pay your rent. You still gotta put food on your table.
[00:55:02] CALLER: Absolutely. I I don’t want to clap in the phone, but I’m clapping in my head for you. Thank you. That’s that. You are a hero for that.
[00:55:10] CHRIS: Nahhh…
[00:55:11] CALLER: There’s a lot of people who, who, there’s a lot of people who get good service and do not tip, still.
[00:55:16] CHRIS: Yeah, that’s that’s not cool. That’s not cool.
[00:55:20] CALLER: But–
[00:55:20] CHRIS: And I don’t want to get on a high horse, and I don’t want to go political again.
[00:55:24] CALLER: [laughing]
[00:55:25] CHRIS: But to keep–
[00:55:25] CALLER: Go ahead.
[00:55:26] CHRIS: I don’t even feel like this should be political. And it’s almost…it’s almost like a sick trick that they’ve politicized this. To me, it’s just simple logic that the server running around all night, handing you your food, gets two dollars and 12 cents an hour. And then people who make literally 50 billion dollars a year don’t even have to pay taxes. I just don’t see how that is a political issue. I don’t I don’t see how you can be a human on earth and look at that and not go, that’s not right. So on a basic level–
[00:56:01] CALLER: Yup.
[00:56:01] CHRIS: That’s not cool.
[00:56:01] CALLER: Servers have to report their ta–, report their tips.
[00:56:05] CHRIS: I know.
[00:56:06] CALLER: So if they get caught lying about how much they did get tipped out, that’s that’s tax fraud.
[00:56:11] CHRIS: They should at least be able to, just as a policy, keep that under the table. And at the very least…
[00:56:17] CALLER: And just say, you’re paying me, sorry Sally, you’re paying me fuckin’ $2.12 an hour.
[00:56:21] CHRIS: Yeah!
[00:56:21] CALLER: What the hell do you expect from me?
[00:56:22] CHRIS: Yeah. You don’t also get to take a half of my tips. You don’t have to tax the crap out of my tips. Oh, my God. Ugh. Wild stuff. OK. Your favorite dishes to cook. The things that when someone orders it on menu, or off– are there things that come in with off menu orders? Because I imagine often that’s annoying. But are there some things where you’re like like, ahh, that’s a smart person who ordered something cool? And I’m glad I got to cook it.
[00:56:46] CALLER: I don’t have any specific examples, but I do find myself all the time. I used to work at a restaurant that was breakfast, lunch and dinner all day. 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. And we had endless toppings for anything. So many options for sandwiches and salads and whatnot. And people were allowed to customize whatever they want. And I would find myself all the time being like, that’s a great idea. I’m going to do that. Probably the best. Actually, I do notice off the top of my head, ’cause I still eat it regularly, is blueberry bagel with cream cheese on one side. Blackberry jelly or blueberry jelly on the other side…
[00:57:29] CHRIS: Ooh.
[00:57:30] CALLER: A sausage patty
[00:57:32] CHRIS: Ooh.
[00:57:33] CALLER: And a piece of provolone cheese.
[00:57:35] CHRIS: Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo!
[00:57:36] CALLER: It sounds weird, but it is amazing.
[00:57:39] CHRIS: So you have two–
[00:57:40] CALLER: It’s amazing.
[00:57:40] CHRIS: –two types of cheese and you’re mixing smoky breakfast sausage with jam. Yeah.
[00:57:48] CALLER: Yes.
[00:57:49] CHRIS: That sounds counterintuitive to me, but you’re sw– and when people put in these customized orders as a chef, is there any part of you that’s going, I gotta write that down? Because that was amazing and I gotta to use it someday.
[00:58:01] CALLER: Oh, yeah, for sure. And there’s times where it’s like that turned into a special sandwich because somebody had a good idea. They don’t know that it became our special for the day, but I know that they came up with it.
[00:58:11] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:58:13] CALLER: There’s one guy. There’s one– I’ll give you a real quick story. There was a redneck guy that came into one of the restaurants I worked at, and it was the one where you could customize anything. And he told the server, he thought it wasn’t on our menu. He told the person, I will do my best southern accent, “I want a bird dog.” And she said, “what?”, and he said, “a bird dog.” And she said, “what’s a bird dog?” And he said, “it’s a hot dog bun with two chicken tenders, two pieces of Swiss cheese, honey mustard and then and bacon on top. And you can bring it out to me.” Like, he didn’t say it like that, but that’s what that’s what he ordered. And that the next day was a special for the day. It’s like, that’s a great idea.
[00:58:59] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:59:00] CALLER: It’s a it’s a bird dog.
[00:59:02] CHRIS: I feel like a lot of parents listening to this just went, “oh my god, a combination hot dog, chicken fingers? I will feed that to my kid.” Is that true? I’ve also heard that even fine dining restaurants will quietly keep chicken fingers on the menu because chicken fingers are one of the only reliable things that can get a tantrum-throwing kid to sit down and eat.
[00:59:21] CALLER: Oh, at, our rule at the restaurant I work at now is that if there’s kids at the table and they order food, send that out first. Get it out A.S.A.P..
[00:59:28] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:59:29] CALLER: Make sure that kid is eating before everybody else so that they’re happy. And if they want something else, well, we’ll send that out as well later on.
[00:59:37] CHRIS: So even at a fine dining place, it’s like out there are even a fine dining place you like not we’ll cook a grilled cheese real quick for you. No problem.
[00:59:44] CALLER: Yep. Get it out there.
[00:59:45] CHRIS: [laughing]
[00:59:45] CALLER: The sushi the sushi restaurant I worked at. We had chicken teriyaki and there were so many times I cooked chicken breast sandwiches, just plain with cheese on it. Here you go. For like kids and whatnot.
[00:59:57] CHRIS: Amazing.
[01:00:00] CALLER: It’s always reliable, always reliable. But any other questions that you have about the restaurant industry? Because I I have more that, if you if you ask.
[01:00:10] CHRIS: Got it. Well, we only have two minutes left. This one flew.
[01:00:14] CALLER: We have two minutes?
[01:00:15] CHRIS: Two min– I have a question for a lot of us listening out there, because you’re a chef. I am a truly terrible cook to the point where I don’t try. And I live in a neighborhood legendary for food, so I eat out all the time. Where do I start? What are the things that are gonna make me gain confidence?
[01:00:30] CALLER: First, I want to answer one of the questions you asked before, then answer. My favorite thing to cook is chicken marsala. I love it. There are so many variations and it’s it’s an easy thing to cook. The best place to start, try low heat. Don’t go too hot too fast. That’s a common mistake is just turning up the stove on high and put the pan on. Second thing, lots of butter. More than you think that you need. And just try seasonings. Look online. There’s a there’s a thing I always use that I haven’t posted in the kitchen, it’s a flavor wheel. And it will have spices, and on the opposite side of the spice it will show what it pairs with. So if it’s like orange zest, it pairs with fish and seafood. If it’s butter, you want to pair it with some zest. Then you got some lemon zest for your lobster, whatever, you know? It’s just one of those things where if you pair it well, anything can work.
[01:01:27] CHRIS: Food wheel…is that something I can buy, or is that a chef’s only…
[01:01:32] CALLER: Well, last thing, I guess I want to get out there real quick if we have time, is I love your show and I’ve actually never heard any of your standup jokes before. I have Spotify and I don’t think you’re on Spotify.
[01:01:43] CHRIS: I am on Spotify. Oh, God, my career–
[01:01:46] CALLER: You are on Spotify!
[01:01:47] CHRIS: Yeah, I have two albums on Spotify–
[01:01:48] CALLER: Oh my gosh…
[01:01:49] CHRIS: And I’m putting on another one in a week or two. Oh, God damn…
[01:01:52] CALLER: Chris, I promise you, I have time. It’s what I’m gonna do right now. I’m going to the kitchen, put it on,
[01:01:57] CHRIS: Even my fans…
[01:01:58] CALLER: I have to listen to it now.
[01:01:59] CHRIS: Even my fans…outright fans of my work…No, it’s this is the state of the world. Listen, I’m going to give you an extra minute because we got 15 seconds left. But there’s one question I’ve been meaning to get to.
[01:02:10] CALLER: OK.
[01:02:10] CHRIS: And I mean, no offense, maybe you might be you might be you might have a six pack and be the most chiseled…
[01:02:15] CALLER: You don’t have to pre-empt it.
[01:02:16] CHRIS: No, it’s, it ties in the question. You might be like chiseled, six-pack, greatest looking guy in the world, like Brad Pitt level. But when you’re a chef, do you get a date out of your league a little bit, because people, cause hot people are like, wow, this person is going to cook me some dope ass food in the morning.
[01:02:31] CALLER: Well, I’m 5’10”, 140. So I’m pretty skinny. My role is never trust a fat chef because he doesn’t work hard.
[01:02:38] CHRIS: [laughing]
[01:02:39] CALLER: He’s not working hard enough to burn those calories off. But I will say cooking gets, if you’re going to be a chef, do it because women love it and there is lots of opportunity just to…you want me to have, I’ll have you come over tonight and cook you dinner, bring a bottle of wine and you are set up, my friend. Chicken marsala and some wine. You got it. You got it good.
[01:03:04] CHRIS: It’s like you–
[01:03:04] CALLER: Make sure you cook those eggs good too.
[01:03:06] CHRIS: It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and then you take the fish, and then you take some butter and you pair it with some lemon zest because that’s where it matches on the food wheel.
[01:03:13] CALLER: [laughing]
[01:03:16] CHRIS: Alright–
[01:03:17] CALLER: That is the best way to end this podcast. I love you, my man, take it easy.
[01:03:19] CHRIS: I love you, too. I hope I get to eat your food someday. Thank you, my friend.
[01:03:22] CALLER: Hey, remember, don’t let the negative things get in your life. Stay focused and be positive.
[01:03:27] [TIME’S UP SOUND EFFECT]
[01:03:33] CHRIS: Chef, thank you for everything. We learned so much. We learned so much. It was really cool to pick your brain. Coulda talked to you for another hour. That was a fun one, thanks for letting me do it. Hey, everybody, don’t forget that Beautiful Follow-ups is up on Stitcher Premium right now. Sign up with the code “story” and get some money off. Go check out all those follow ups. They’re good. Thank you. Jared O’Connell. Shellshag, thank you for the music. We’ve got shows coming up, including a live taping in San Francisco. ChrisGeth.com for tickets. You like the show, go to the podcast, rate, review, subscribe. See you next time.