Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blogging From Hell: Turn up the Heat!

It's summer and all my favorite shows are on hiatus. Thankfully, the NBA playoffs weren't on last night either, so I didn't have to watch that peanut head Tony Parker dribble around the Cavs (flat footed much?). But, being cable-free by choice means we only have a smattering of channels from which to choose. I chose FOX, and dove headfirst into Hell's Kitchen.

So, this FOX show...it's popular. It's sensational. It's something to watch on Monday nights. Honestly, I don't think any of these contestants have what it takes but my early favorites are Rock because he's calm under pressure and Brad, because he's already a Sous Chef in a high volume market and should be accustomed to pressure.

As an ex-unhappily married restaurant widow, I know firsthand what kitchen life is like so I can say unequivocally that Chef Ramsay is no joke. My ex was just like Chef Ramsay in the kitchen - he yelled, he screamed, he threw things (sometimes food, sometimes knives), he berated the staff and he walked around with a gigantic chip on his shoulder. And, everyone, even the restaurant owners, deferred to him because chef's are temperamental and, bottom line, they are the reason people come back to a restaurant night after night. It pays in spades to keep the chef happy because if the chef is unhappy, then the food sucks, and so does restaurant revenue.

Chef Ramsay's "tough love" is really good prep for the Hell's Kitchen contestants. My ex trained professionally but these contestants (one from the Waffle House!) need a boot camp experience to get them up to speed. Executive Chef's work very, very hard to earn and keep their spot at the top of the heap. It requires attention to detail, excellent management skills, and excellent culinary knowledge. Not everyone is cut out for the stress of that lifestyle and most marriages do not endure because the restaurant is a jealous mistress; she gets him for holidays, for evenings, and for weekends. Special occasions are a big deal in the restaurant industry; they are usually banner days by accounting standards.

But, the perks? Oh, the perks are lovely. Free food, free wine, big tips (yes, chefs get tipped), private events, unlimited access to restaurant amenities (like ski passes, pool and tennis club membership, use of the private box at sporting events) are creature comforts that kept this young wife company - for a bit. Then, too many holidays, birthdays, and nights alone and that was that. I divorced him. A heart attack at age 36 forced him to quit for good. Now, he chases a different dream, he's softened a bit with age, and, I must confess, our daughter has the most exquisite party food. And, someday, when I finally open my own restaurant, I won't have to look too far for my Executive Chef.

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