In 1964, two years after I arrived in the US, I was lucky to land a waiter job at a restaurant run by the owner, Mr. Harvans. He was an eclectic and consummate chef, dedicated to the craft. A few weeks into my job, he learned about my interest in western cuisine and saliently began teaching me the fundamentals. Mr. Harvan’s commitment to excellence in all areas of the restaurant, his discipline, nurturing of the staff, and attention to details were admirable.
One evening, soon after the start of the dinner shift, he came out of his office visibly perturbed. Walking behind him was the newly hired receptionist, Mary Lu, in a low cut dress, and as she walked past, she left a strong trail of perfume. Mr. Harvans was mumbling his disappointment and shaking his head. He handed her a napkin and what appeared to be a small bottle. No harsh words were said.
Sheepishly, Mary Lu went to the lady’s room and reappeared with the napkin strategically placed and pinned to make her more presentable. A strong smell of man’s aftershave compensated for the overwhelming scent of her perfume. We overheard Mr. Harvans exclaim, “This is a family restaurant and the focus is on what we serve.”
Recently, while switching through the TV channels I came across the start of the Hell’s Kitchen TV show. Chef Ramsay had a big frown across his forehead as he spewed out three quick expletives in the first couple of minutes. Two teams of aspiring chefs were competing in this segment at a restaurant in Las Vegas. Amazing, an R rated cooking show.
I grabbed a pen and started jotting down the banter among the team members. Each of the bleeps is represented by #@*&.
I hate cooking for children
I don’t like children at all
She thinks she is a #@*& #@*&
Get off your #@*& horse
Shut the #@*& man
These steaks are #@*& big, not my fault
I #@*& quit, one of the chefs walk out
Can’t believe I #@*& up
Information would have been better #@*& earlier
My fish is dying
It gets #@*& bad
A child (customer) comments to his parent, “The chef is yelling.”
You got to be out of your #@*& mind
I’m going to nail #@*& guy
Last one was #@*& rare steak
I looked at the clock; the show was only half over. It appeared as if the student chefs were competing more for the number of bleeps than the preparation of the ordered dishes. I wondered what Chef Ramsay was competing for.
For a moment I thought the show should be renamed, ChefBulliesRUs. The graduating chefs then could spread their newly acquired bullying expertise to restaurant kitchens across the country. Bon Explétive.
Mr. Harvans would not be amused; I believe he would have sent everyone to the washrooms with a toothbrush and a piece of soap. What do you think?