Thomas Keller things we should redefine “chef” to be “worker” instead of “celebrity”. 

A friend thought it to be nonsense, because it’s all about ego. I disagree… I think it’s more about neuroses.  People enter service, hospitality, etc because they want to be validated, coupled with wanting to provide experiences. Ego exists before and after entering the machine…. but I think it’s not the kind of ego driving unskilled labor into kitchen in hopes of being a celebrity chef…. the $10 an hour for all is incredibly democratizing and acts as a powerful wake up call to those who have delusions of grandeur.

The tasting menu is less ego, and more like “you guys are coming because you trust me, and I totally dorked out at the market today and got way much of these interesting ingredients”.

I agree the ego thing is a complex beast…. but all of us are aware it’s there and attempt to suppress or alter how it exists.  I do think most of these guys think of themselves as workers, like a carpenter or master craftsman, rather than finicky and troubled artist.

Funny thing is that, even though they fancy the idea of being a hard working everyman, they are complex primadonnas that couldn’t possibly be a wheel or garde manger, because they’re compelled, and too innovative, overwrought, and driven.  There’s guys that want to go home at the end of the shift, and there’s one compelled to destroy their lives while trying to manipulate or experiment with product.

It’s like the nature of art…. there are those who want to be artists, and then there’s people with mental disorders that simply compel them to create art, regardless.  You can see this in chefs… the one who wants the notoriety while pretending to brush it off, or the awkward one who doesn’t know how to deal with notoriety because he hasn’t spoken to someone in 10 years as a hard working sous alone in a brigade…..

Ego is impossible to defeat, who says it should…. but being aware of it can help you shift it around to where it can be used most effectively.  I assume that includes interviews with the media.

I’ve had overwrought, pretentious food from a chef that says “I am the everyman and just a hard worker” where it’s $200 a tasting menu for what is 13 courses of watching the chef work out his issues on a plate.  Then there’s something like Bouchon, or French Laundry, both of which are uproariously expensive, and have also included some of the best value I have ever had in upscale fine dining.

Along with that…..

The perception of luxury value is so fascinating! Prince concert= $250 dollars, bottle of Cristal champagne for $300, dinner for two $600.

As a commodity, it’s interesting to think that people would mock one another for each others preferential luxury goods.  You spent how much on a concert? You spent how much on champagne? You spent how much on shoes? ON DINNER?!?!?

But those same people buy the other luxuries…  when it’s your luxury it seems so reasonable.  But when it’s someone else’s, it seems absurd.

I guess what’s one person’s luxury goods, is another man’s hell. Quoting Milton poorly.


For myself, experience will always trump “stuff”… especially when a luxury car depreciates in value by 50% in a year or so….  learning a lot about the draw of luxury goods in this Quora thread…

About Uncle Fishbits

I'm.. just this guy, you know?

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