The lexicon of the kitchen is unique all its own, but the colorful displays during recent episodes of Bravo’s Top Chef has the NY Times wondering if the garnish nouveau are sprigs of vulgarity drenched in censored beeps.
We’ve become well familiar with Gordon Ramsay’s course monologues. Anthony Bourdain pulled the curtain back on his kitchen antics in 2000 with Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. And with celebrity chefs seemingly falling off conveyer belts these days, can we really be shocked by kitchen culture?
For the media’s sake: yes.
Last month The New Yorker did a spread on the city’s latest culinary hero, David Chang, following the unveiling of his coveted fourteen-seat restaurant, Momofuku Ko. Even Times critic, Frank Bruni, found it such an ordeal making a reservation, that he turned to ranting on his blog to secure a table.
So what was revealed of Chang and his culinary genius on the maiden week of his fourteen-seat establishment? Well, mostly that the man is overstressed –an understatement– and that “no one gets angry like [he gets] angry”. All this committed with swarming profanity.
For those experienced with the kitchen atmosphere, a chef’s tirade or cook’s meltdown is not an anomaly. Tempers are often easily ignited. Sometimes if tension is kept solely to verbiage it’s a good day. Yet, seasoned chefs insist it’s not the constant in every kitchen either.
Tom Colicchio, former executive chef of Gramercy Tavern and host of Top Chef, admitted concern over the trend on his show. “You read Rolling Stone and you don’t see rock stars curse like this…it’s recent, too. It’s something you’ve seen just in the past year.”
The industry has only recently begun to receive such celebrity fascination, which causes one to wonder how much drama is real and how much is for the upkeep of spectacle?
We’ll let the expert, Mr. Bourdain, field this one:
“I’m making a living at it… I do a lot of speaking engagements and sometimes I feel like I’m being paid to curse in front of people who haven’t heard it in a while. I’ve been pushing it and pushing it and have unloaded like a marine in front of a vast roomful of blue-haired ladies, and they seem to get it.”