“When Life Gives you a Lemon.”

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“When Life Gives you a Lemon.”

What kills kitchen moral faster than the coronavirus on a rampage to creep into your dining room and steal all of your patrons? Bad managers, who think that they can run a kitchen when they have little to no experience inside the kitchen. That's who. These people should be ashamed of themselves. Problem is that they don't give a shit. For them, it's all about that paycheck at the end of the day. They don't dump their heart and soul into each plate of perfect sauces and impeccable proteins that are far ahead of their time. Instead, these people choose to take out their aggression on individuals slaving to make a name for themselves. To follow a passion, that once was lost but now is found. To make someone proud of them. The thing about us eccentric weirdos is that we never really know who we are trying to impress. Anyone who will pay attention to us in this very busy world. But it would seem that bad management is the only one paying attention and sometimes it's the wrong type of attention.

Let's face it, managers make good people and great employees quit jobs. It should be the standard that you train people to become ably enough that they want to stay. Yet, make it so that they can leave if the said person wants to this comes from the lack of recognition that employees receive for their contributions and good work. Some managers hire staff who don't seem to care about their employees and that's just terrible. A lot of them don't honor their commitments which are the worst thing you can do. How Is a person working under you or for you supposed to trust you and bust their ass doing a good job if you can't even keep your promises? And it would seem like that they always hire and promote the wrong ones.

Bad managers and shitty workplaces being more frequent have been a factor in deadening a cook's love and passion for the craft. We cook while staring at bumpers on our lanes instead of them allowing us to bowl without the constant fear of the gutter from a creative new way to roll.  Which is a bad demotivator for good workers who show up every day and dump their souls into what they do. The revolving door policy here is revolting why don't managers allow people to pursue their passions? Provide opportunities for them to pursue their passions ultimately would improve productivity and job satisfaction. Yet no one does it. And how come they always seem to fail to develop well-needed people skills? How is this not enforced?  If you want to be a good role model for future generations then you should become like the late Michel Roux. He created a movement. Born in a small town called Bourgogne in eastern France, in a room above his grandfather's charcuterie, he then moved to Paris after the war ended only to lose a great deal of his childhood before the age of 10. That does something to a person. Being around food all of his life, it's all he knew. So, it would make sense that he would later on an apprentice under Camille Loyal in Belleville. That's when he punched in. working over seventy hours a week, Roux got a taste of this life we all are living now. After a few years serving the French National Service, he almost gave up on his life behind the knife to become an opera singer. Lucky for us, he later opened a restaurant in England. A place that the French weren't very welcome food-wise. And that's where he started his movement and changed British cooking forever. Do you think that this humble genius made fun of someone for using the wrong sauce on an entree? Probably not. I'm willing to bet that he would smile and say: " Now we call it something different, a new recipe." That's the exact kind of person you want to have you back. Someone who isn't afraid to take risks for the right reasons. A lesson that would be learned from a life of inexorable ardor and voracious hunger for living. The exact blending of all these intricate ingredients has created the best recipe we know as misfits to follow to become the best versions of ourselves that we have left. 

So why is it that when we approach some of the people who claim to know what it's all about, they have no idea who this man is or was? And then once you use the argument that you don't know who he is, I can assure you that someone you know has been influenced by his culinary dynasty. All of this because he cared about what he did and the people. Not the money or greed created from capitalism. But the flavor of love in everything that you do. That's a true passion. Something so pure, that it can't be tainted but some of the bullshit that we call cooking today. Some of us have tried to recreate old styles and dishes, only to fail because we missed the reason for those iconic and mold-breaking concepts. We become so obsessed with becoming the best that we miss the ride along the way. And that is the most influential and beautiful part. The gift of life in what we do as cooks. The reasons why we push ourselves to the point of sheer exhaustion for the sake of the meaningless promises of a better life are redundant. They nothing but empty words used to move you along for someone else perpetual gain. Where did we go wrong? I'll tell you where it all turned to shit. It's when we all stopped caring about how our food tasted versus hot it looks. We worried too much about putting garnishes on plates that don't belong, or you can't eat. It then continued the moment we started tearing apart the recipes that gave us passion and purpose and making them into deconstructed piles of incomprehensible flavors. So, we thought that taking this lesson from our founding culinary fathers was the way to traverse a new path in food, we all took the idea and ran with. Which missed the point our founding fathers were trying to make. And by ripping apart the recipes, we ended going the wrong way. We shouldn't have been trying to take things apart, but instead, mixing in our own stories with the food at our hands. That's the whole reason for what they did. They adapted the flavors to express emotion is a specific moment in time through the use of flavors in food. To leave their mark on the foodservice industry as we know it. They knew that to help this idea grow into something sustainable and exquisite, you have to focus on the things that bring you joy. 

And yet joy is something that most of use in the cookeries across the world now lack. Is this because we are all ripping each apart to get to the top? And once you get to the top, you always end up falling back down to start the climb over again. Eternal proof that a person's arrogance is a culinary poison. That can and has ruined many dishes. It's the cooks that figure out the reason behind why they do what they do that, who realize they went win the wrong direction and take personal accountability that punches in and begins their rise back to the top. The best part of this is that this rise is much more difficult. You have to struggle with the same hardships as before, as well as the industry being much more cutthroat the second time around. Some who have a passion here succeed. Some die trying. And others fall short and lose passion. Many out in the world don't know the adversities that a cook struggles within their daily lives. Not just that, but that mental health issues as well that stem from this toxic environment that we claim to love, but only want to date part-time. Some of us just can't commit. And that's where the love dies. Although there are those chosen few that realize that this is a give and take. But one wrong step and the kitchen gods will just keep taking. But it’s how you create your ability to not give a shit about what others think that creates your brand of what we refer to as being cool. You can always tell the people doing a job for money from the ones doing it for a passion. The ones with passion are the cooks wiping the crusty old chalk line off from under their nostrils while pretending that their eyes are as big as dinner plates. No, they are the ones that are making moves in silence. For they know what they want to achieve, and what they have to lose in doing so. In the end, though, both the new school cooks and old-schoolers can share stories about doing anything it takes to get the job done. And that's what brings us together in a kitchen overall. 

Want to know what it’s like to be free? Imagine music turned up so loud that it almost drowns out the noise of the ticket machine as it prints off your demise. They say that you can’t hear nightmares. But the music helps. Imagine that everything is going smoothly, and the tickets are being cranked out and everyone in the kitchen is dancing and singing. Then suddenly the chef comes back and tells you to turn down Tupac’s California love because one of the customers is upset. This is why I would have told that table that my people back there deserve to listen to whatever they want, and that they are killing it during dinner service tonight. Something that Chef Roux would have been proud of. And that they will receive a discount on their bill, however for the love of my people back there, I’m not asking them to turn it down. Now, some of you will argue this and start ripping it apart and losing your mind over what I just said. To which I’ll reply, “How does it feel to miss the point?”  The point of what we do isn’t just to make money and feed people. It’s to share an experience with people so that they may remember the emotions felt during this point in time. The story of a great meal at a great restaurant could be passed down generation to generation through the spans on time. To prove my point, think about how foodservice got to where it is today. By the stories of great meals and how to make them, exactly. Don’t deprive anyone of the sacrifices of blood sweat and tears. You can’t take away their happiness. But you sure can taste it if you were to shut up and just enjoy yourself and stop worrying about all the other bullshit going on around you in the world. Take time to learn flavors, learn what they mean. And only then can you learn why they are in certain dishes and why that’s unique to the person preparing it.

All in all, don't be a bad mentor or supervisor. That kind of melody in life is just loud and obnoxious and no one wants to hear it. You're just saying the same thing that everyone else says. You just don't know why. So, it would seem that in being a piss poor icon, that you've completely missed the point and need to take time to listen to those who have given everything for their passion. For you'll never know what someone has had to sacrifice or endure to reach the point of standing in front of you as an immovable force to be reckoned with. Want to be the big fish in a small pond? That's fine, I can't stop you. But I can ensure you that I know how to catch, break down, and prepare really big fish. So maybe don't question my passion when you don't even know what I mean when I ask if you're a round or a flatfish. Now, if you don't mind, I need to get back to making you look better so that you can get a gold star for the day. Remember people we are in this together whether we like it or not. Take a look around you. Drink in the world and all of its wonders and miracles. It'll give you a reason to start taking the road less traveled. And it's at the end of that road where I will meet you and we can share a meal. I'm cooking though. I've seen you season things, and you have a very heavy salt hand. We are trying to season the dish, not make it match your personality. 

Repose en Paix Chef Roux. We can’t thank you enough for the lessons that you have given us. You dedicated your entire life to this lifestyle. We won’t forget the lessons you’ve passed down. Le service est terminé. Rest easy, we got this from here.

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 his videos 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


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