"Can I Get a Heard That?"
What happened to cooking old school? A lot of people these days say that cooking isn’t what it used to be? Well, with everyone pushing the limits on what we cook and how we cook it, no wonder we have strayed farther from the true meaning of cooking. Take a look at some of the food that's made these days. It should make you think. Goat cheese foam? It's not even cheese anymore at that point. So why call it that? It's a foam that's goat cheese flavored. Not to mention this whole deconstructed phase. Fuck it. People want an experience I'll admit, but they don't want to have to put the dish together themselves. Some people aren't that smart. Face it, some people shouldn't have knives in their hands. It's like going to a sandwich shop and ordering a sandwich, and they give you all the ingredients for you to make it yourself. How many times are you doing to go back there? Probably none, let's be honest here. You are going to go to the other places that put it together for you. So many people laid the groundwork for the food industry as we know it today, and all you're doing by overcomplicating food is pissing on their graves. I'm pretty sure Julia Child would beat the shit out of you with her rolling pin for fucking up seared duck breast. Shit imagine if she met a vegan, that would be a fun conversation. Nothing against vegans, but I don't think that Julia Child would agree with their food choices. She's the queen of butter, not seasoned tofu. Good luck trying to get her on board with trying to switch from beef to a squishy cube of disappointment. Something else that I've noticed over the years is how lazy some "chefs" have become. Listen, creating a buffet line doesn't make you a chef. Especially when you boil the steaks until they are damn near leather, and then let them soak in what you call "au jus" which is just beef base cubes that you added water and onions to. That's not a buffet line, that's a disgrace and sin against the kitchen gods and you should go play in traffic. I'm joking don't do that, I'll get sued. But at the same time, if you did do it, that's again, kind of on you as well. So maybe consider different life choices that don't cause you to be in shitty ass situations such as adding canned cheese sauce to already pre-bagged chips and calling it homemade nachos.
The art of cooking is simple at its core. All it takes is some kind of story you want to tell. Most people miss that point, and others fabricate it well. It's hard to tell the fakes from the real OG's, but if you've been in this line of work for a while, you'll know. For me, it's all the yelpers, Instagram people who say they can cook but can't, and so-called chefs who say that a sugo is the same as a stroganoff. No, they are not the same at all. A sugo is a thin red sauce. Whereas a stroganoff is a cream-colored sauce that contains sour creams. Please explain to me how those two opposite sauces are the same. They aren't, and you know it. And by telling me that the customers don't know the difference is appalling. And not to mention a disgrace to the kitchen you're standing it. Don't claim to be a chef when you have no idea what it takes. It took me years to perfect both of those sauces to a point where I was comfortable replicating them well, on point, each time. And because of all those years of practice, it only took me a few seconds to tell that you're full of shit. Having money doesn't make you a chef either. Hell, most chefs know all too well what it's like not to have any money. And that's how you can tell the most passionate chefs from the shitty ones. This is part of the reason that chefs are such assholes sometimes. You have these people out in the world who destroy what you've taken months or years of hard work to put on the table in front of them, in seconds. Like I get that you have to have some losses to make the wins count. But I gained my losses with the times I failed at perfecting something. And as far as the wins, they are they, I'm just humble and not bragging about them like an asshole on the internet. Maybe if you would pay attention to detail like you claim to do, then you'd see the perfection I strive for. But no, you just want to remain to be a cock-knuckle. This type of lifestyle isn't for the faint of heart. Which is exactly why you can't do it. You have no heart. Go back to yelp and hide behind your online curtain.
To those of you that push yourselves to the limit and back every day, know that I fucking love you and what you stand for. But don't be arrogant. You know when you're doing it too. So, stop being an ass. I saw a show flipping through the channels late one night. (And yes, I still channel surf. It's a thing from the '90s, and it’s fun so shoot me.) Anyway, I came across a chef with some public access channel cooking show. Now let me tell you, that was the best shit I've seen in a long time. I'm not sure who's idea it was to give this person a cooking show, but they didn't look like the wanted to be there. I don't remember exactly what they were making. Which makes me think, I'm not even sure they knew what they were cooking. And the plating was terrible. I feel like if you would have put Helen Keller on a line, she could have done a better job. Now, I don't claim to know their sacrifice in doing that show, but please do some research next time before filming. Don't embarrass yourself. In the kitchen, it's all about preparation. And that involves researching the recipe as well as your other mise en place. And yet, here I sit kicking ass and taking names without a show. But we won't count that as a win, will we now? Can I get a heard that? People like this are terrible for our way of life. But at the same time, they do make us look so much better. So maybe a needed evil? Either way, I know plenty of people that can cook circles around them. And out of all of those people, every single one would take the challenge if someone ever dares to step up and provoke them. Shit, I'd pay to see that.
But I do feel like we have come a long way with food. Sous vide in a bigger thing now, and I'm glad that it is. Most people don't know that it's been around since the 1800s but wasn't used until the 1960s. That's one hundred and sixty years where nothing was heard of as far as sous vide. Ah, but is that the case, or is it that real chefs are humble and don't share everything? We may never know. But then again, do we have to know? No, we don't. All we need to know is how it came to be, and how to come close to mastering that art form. That's it. And from what it seems like to me, it took 160 years to master it. And that's a long time to not be respected. So, to whoever says that sous vide is a crime, know this: you're an asshole. Stop being an asshole. Your mother raised you better. And you know it. The real crime is that we ignored its value for so long. I mean take a look at barbequing. It's extremely primal and basic. And it gets used in all sorts of ways and vast varieties these days. Now just imagine what could happen when sous vide is used that way. Not saying it’s not already, I'm merely pointing out what it can be if we give it the respect it deserves.
But let's not get off-topic here. The real shit going on behind the curtains is the real issue here and everyone knows it. From selling coke in the back-prep room to people doing whatever they have to do to be able to prove themselves to a bullshit chef. The cooking lifestyle is something that can be a very stressful thing if not handled properly. I knew this prep cook that would burn himself each time he fucked up. Now that's was intense, but he was the most chill person I knew there. Being chill or not doesn't change the fact that he had a collection round, self-inflicted burn marks on his arms. At first, I thought he paid his dues on the fryers. And I'm sure that a few of those burns may have been from that, but only a very select few. Now, when I think about making mistakes in the kitchen, my mind goes straight to finding a solution. Which is where the idea of learning from your mistakes comes into play. My logic here more than likely stems from years behind the knife. Over the years I've unknowingly switched from making mistakes to a problem solver. It's all about learning now in my mind. And I feel that spending my time cooking has made me into a monster. But now that I can navigate through the bullshit of the kitchen life, I feel like I can solve almost any issue in my way. And if for some reason I can't solve it, I am wise enough to find someone who can. Isn't utilizing the tools and things at your disposal part of being a good cook? Exactly. But one issue that I can't seem to solve is butts in seats. This issue is becoming a pandemic almost nationwide. Those "fresh" home meals sent to your doorstep aren't helping this at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about people learning how to cook. But let's face it, that stuff isn't fresh. It's frozen, then thawed out and mailed to you. But hey, it's cheaper right? Well, that depends on the situation. Would I ever eat one of those? No, because I'm not a fucking idiot. I know how to cook, and I know how to read. Newsflash, all they are doing is the mise en place for you. If you're good at this and aren't lazy, you could save some money just doing it all yourself. So, is being lackadaisical the issue here? Is that why people won't get off theirs assed and come eat some good food? Or is it the economy's fault with the cost of living skyrocketing? We are never going to get a straight answer on this. Ever. the blame will be pushed around, others blamed, you get the idea. This is a situation where the narcissist blames the victim for Stockholm syndrome. You know and have all dealt with it. The event where the person starting the issues, tries to manipulate everyone else around them, then when almost being caught or close to being caught, they point out the victim's placement and claim that's what is happening to them. These types of insane people are fun. And yes, that is insane. And it happens a lot more in this line of work than you think. This is a textbook example of some of the drama that starts in kitchens and why. And sometimes the grand reveal at the end of all the bullshit usually isn't worth all the hassle. And it’s usually the drama that tears a kitchen apart. Hell, it tears any kind of family apart if you let it. But you'll find drama anywhere if you go looking for it. So why not just cook some badass food, and not worry about shit except your heat level on your sauté pans? Most of the kitchens I've worked in, I've always tried to keep my nose down and did what I had to do. But there are those places where you get sucked in, and it's terrible when all is said and done. Thank the higher powers that be for weed. I'm not sure I'd be alive without the medical purposes of cannabis. Laughing heals people. Know that shit! A smile can make your whole day change in a second. So, go out and make someone's day! We have enough shit to worry about in the world. And let's face it, work sucks sometimes, but you can let the negativity win. If you do, then the outcome will be negative. It's as simple as that I promise you.
When we finally admit that our lives highly depend on our ability to take personal accountability for our actions. But this is a hard thing for us to do because we are all children of the kitchen gods. And most of our actions and thoughts are out of either boredom or survival. In a professional kitchen, there is no in-between. If there was an in-between, that would probably be a good time to clean or prep, or even better yet a smoke. There is nothing better than a fucking cigarette after getting your ass handed to you during a brunch rush. Fuck brunch. I'm pretty sure that the people that came up with the idea of taxes thought about a meal for just them and called it brunch. Those self-entitled assholes. And then wouldn't you know it, more and more assholes wanted to feel the same way. And so, brunch was fucking born. Damn, I hate brunch. But I must say, that's where a team comes together. It’s one of those times where no one cares, all that matters it’s surviving the rush to make it to that smoke break. I don't know how many times; I've put the wrong sauce on a plate and didn't give a shit before it went out. I just didn't care. After all the years of doing this, I started to hate it. And hate it I did. I started imagining a life without it. All the time off, no weekends or late nights, no more cooking! What was the purpose of it? Was it all just because I needed a job? I did like parts of it. But for the most part, it was starting to agitate me at the end of the day. So, fuck this lady wrong sauce. She's a self-entitled ass-hat anyway. Fuck, I bet you she drinks decaf. This is the point where instead of getting mad at the server for catching your mistake, you bond over it by asking is she has the "I want to speak to a manager haircut". If the server laughs, they get a free pass today, if they don't know you know who you're bumming a smoke off of. And that people are how the line cooks judge you. It's kind of like a jail in a sense. Whereas, smokes, sharpies, and towels are all currency. We all have been in situations where we need any one of these more than money. Because we became cooks because we love money, right? I bet you did. I bet you thought this life was going to be all rainbows and cupcakes, didn't you? How pissed are you now?
So, take it from me, just keep your head on straight, love those around you, and stop being a dweeb. No one likes a dweeb. Be like me, be ugly AND outgoing. That way you can get away with people not wanting to look at you directly in the eyes as they lie to you. It makes it easier that way. But hey, being outgoing makes it easier for them. Maybe they are distantly related to the people who came up with brunch. Who the fuck knows? Rather, who gives a shit? Laugh at that. Sip your coffee, spark that J, or do whatever you've got to do, do go about your day. Because you're about to kill service today, and you don't even know it. Who cares if you hate brunch? You still have to cook food. So, let's do it in style. And be bad-asses. Can I get a heard that?
Rodney Lienhart is a Chef formerly of McKenzie, TN but is now working and residing in Lansing, MI area. Starting at the young age of 7 years old. He worked his way through the ranks in his mom's kitchen in the hills of Tennessee. With a background in southern, Italian, French, and nouvelle cuisines, he uses what he knows to learn more about what he doesn't. When he isn't putting a flame on a sauté pan, he can be found reading and researching about what makes people tick. A massive overindulgence in psychology has led him here to share what he has witnessed in his experiences. Make sure to keep a close eye one of his video is coming out soon. In these videos, he will be closely working with Wayhot sauce and Krystilion CBD on future recipes and concepts. You can follow his story and insight into the world of cooking food and adding the health benefits of CBD to his dishes on Facebook also on Instagram @chef_rodney_117.