Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Rebuttal to "Cheffy Runs His Mouth About Gordon Ramsey and Kitchen Ethics"

A Rebuttal to “Cheffy Runs His Mouth about Gordon Ramsey and Ethics”

What Chefs and Culinarians had to say about Chef Mike’s “Gordon Ramsey and Ethics” article…not all of them good…ha ha..

My Cheffy Friends at Culinary Artists Chef It Up had quite a bit to say about this little CheffyRant/Philosophy…

The players are:
Chef Keith Angell- Indiana
Chef David Bulla- Pittsburg
Chef Tom Dinardo-Cleveland
Pastry Chef Heather Williams- NYC
Chef David- Montreal
And of Course,
The CheffyBoy…

Chef Keith, the co-founder of Culinary Artists, chides in first…


So when do I get to work with you? I have been reading your posts like these for years and you always make me wanna put on an apron and just destroy a kitchen with you.

The 3 stages of being a chef:
You perspire, you inspire and then you retire.

I wish I had a "you" 19 years ago... I need a young and hungry kid who is eager to learn the whys and hows of kitchen lore....a sponge.

Love ya Bro!

Chef K

Chef Dave from Canada says:

Well said, I hear people complaining saying if he ever said / done that to me I would let him have it well let them say that when they have a full board and the orders keep coming. And when you are finally done, and every thing has gone out and three hours have gone by and you just have a chance to hit the can grab a quick drink and it starts again. Well let them try. Two days ago I was working with a kid just started on the grill all of a sudden he was swamped and in panic mode I stepped in and helped him I did not let him sink I moved some one else into my station and helped him through it showing him how to run multiple orders and showing him how to let other parts of the team know where he is on his orders to keep everything coming when he was ready for it. At the end we all agreed that he rocked out and done well. At the end he went home all smiles

He is only 19 he has what it takes I just hope that he stays with some one who will help train him not push him aside when it gets hectic

Chef Dave in Canada.


Heather has quite a bit to say about Ramsey and the CheffyRant…

“I have to put my thoughts on this one....

For me, I can respect the fact that Gordon Ramsey is successful, and is a great chef as far as his cooking ability is concerned...but that is where the respect ends for me. Ramsey, in my opinion, doesn’t know what ethics are. he can can a lot of us out there. That doesn’t grant him the right to be verbally abusive towards people, throw childish temper tantrums because he doesn’t get his way, or belittle people so they feel like they aren’t even human. What gives?? I’m sorry...but for his behavior alone I can’t respect him as a chef. I can respect his accomplishments...just not him. I have worked with several tyrannical, maniacal chefs in my time...and I haven’t respected a single one of them. I was raised with manners. I respect people, and keep my cool because I know that throwing a tantrum will get me nowhere. I expect the same when it comes to the people who work with me in my kitchen. I despise chefs, that think that just because they are boss...that it makes them right...even when they know they are wrong. Bosses are people too, and can make mistakes. The minute all of us can realize this fact...we can be better bosses...and lead the way for a better industry. sum it all up...Why on earth should we give a crap about Ramsey...why not pay attention to those in our industry who are doing well and keeping their cool while they climb their way to the top??? You don’t have to be a tyrant to be a good chef.


Lisa Gabelle says:

I agree with you on that one. To a point. For me, I
work with some great bosses and even tho they throw
their tempers and stuff, they try not to take it out
on us employees. I'm really blessed to have great

Cheffy Sez: gonna reply to Heather first...

Shoulda known you were gonna  get worked up...

(Heather and Cheffy have a kind of ‘know each other’ situation and I know of some of the boneheads she has worked for...)

This is going to open up another can of worms, but I can't let it go...

When I walked into a REAL kitchen the first time in the late 70's, you didn't even talk to the chef, if he talked to you, you were honored...even if he was yelling at was an honor...

Things have changed...

I worked under the tyranny of the best Chef I have ever knew for years, if he quit and moved on, I followed him...why? Because Chef Roy may have been a tyrant, but I learned more when I was pissed off at him then I ever have from school, books or any other practical application.

I learned patience...I had to learn to deal with him...He was a mentor that took me under his wings and said that he would teach me "three pages short" of what he knew. I was his Student. He was my Teacher. I had a love/hate relationship. So did he.

When we quit being humble is when we quit learning...

I quit working with Chef in 1983. I call him still...

Now…That's Respect.

Today's Kitchen has so much changed...

There is no respect anymore...nobody thinks to walk into the Chef's
Office when he is on the phone and talking...I used to knock and wait until (and if) I was invited in...

And I am not even talking about the food...

It was just a respect we used to have for the Chef that I have now become....

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing...

OK...lost my mind for a moment, am back now...done with that tangent...

The point that I was trying to make was for us professionals, whether an Exec, a Pastry Chef, an Exec-Sous or whatever, a freaking prep/steward for all I am concerned...we make sacrifices for education. It’s pretty simple math…the more you know the more you’re worth…

If in your education you do not attain ethics or ethical standards then all you have is lost. If you have passion about your craft, regardless of the profession and you do not maintain an ethical standard and abide by your ethics for your craft then you lose...

Bottom Line...

In my day, putting up with shit and disrespect made me a better dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, chef and now a mentor...

Am I that way? No, not always, but I have my moments... I am a kinder, more gentle chef than my teachers, I am still effective, but I wouldn't change a day...

I didn't become a good chef by being a crappy dishwasher...

Cheffy gets Sentimental Page One....

Raspil gets into the conversation with some very good insights:

I used to think the same way about Ramsey, that he was just out of control and didn't care how he was talking to his crew (all I know is what I've seen on HK).  But if what was represented on Hell's Kitchen was true, that NONE of those cooks (ever) have been able to work the line to his specifications, then he has the right to bitch them out when they screw up.  It's his name out there.  Of course, because it's a reality show, they don't cast actual talent (it's obvious they aren't if they think a nanny or pastry chef can run a kitchen night after night), they don't even cast people who have worked on the line -- this makes for "good" tv, I guess, but bottom line is if HK wasn't on television and was a real place where people dine on a nightly basis and weren't getting appetizers or entrees after an hour, I think he would have the absolute RIGHT to fire his crew and find one who won't F him over during the rush.

They did cast "donkeys".  I don't believe for a second they have ever cast an actual line cook who knows what it's like.  Not anywhere on this planet will a sane chef hire any of those people who were on that show.  I sure as hell know I never would if that was the best they could do.

I worked for a chef earlier this year -- his kitchen was like boot
camp.  Did he bitch and moan?  Yes.  He also told me he wouldn't
have kept me around if he didn't think I had talent.  My goal was to
get three hours worth of work done in 1-1/2 hours and I eventually
got it.  He was hard but fair.  I think Ramsay is the same way.  He
can sense who might have something in there, a brain, talent, common
sense, speed, what have you -- only the strong survive.  Chefs need
strong people on their crews, not crybabies who can't work under
pressure.  if a person can't STFU and get their job done without
drama, then they don't belong in the kitchen.  It's the Chef's
kitchen.  They can and will run it as they see fit.  Don't like it?
Then quit.  But don't complain or criticize until you've been in
their shoes.  The last thing I want to do again is work with a bunch
of dumbasses who don't give a damn about what they're doing or are
so ignorant of how to work in a kitchen.  I was there in June and I
got a taste of how annoying it is when people don't do what they're

whatevs -- i've run off at the mouth again.  maybe I said something
worth a crap.


Bulla pops in with some “I Love You Man, BullaBabbles”


You know I love you, man...

I respect your background... and all the things you have gone through
to get to where you are now.

Yet, in my years of learning and doing, I have to disagree with you on
this point.  There is no room in the kitchen today for a tyrant.  You
may be able to put up with it and learn from it, but it NEVER makes
for a better kitchen, in my humble opinion.

Assholes are assholes.  Leadership is something more profound.  You
were in the Marines.  You know what it takes to have leadership
qualities.  Leadership is not equated with abuse.  A leader can find a
way to motivate and be firm without being abusive.

I am convinced that Ramsey has two personalities.  One on camera, and
one in the kitchen.  The Ramsey on camera is a dick, because he knows
he needs controversy to get TV ratings.  The Ramsey that runs
restaurants is probably a good leader, and knows how to motivate a
kitchen staff.  That is probably the key to his success.

So...  I don't like the camera version of Ramsey.

I am sure if I met him in person, he would be someone I would like.

Chef Bulla

Heather’s Back…and she ain’t done yet…

“…Ok...I think I lost my point somewhere in my last post....

I agree w/raspil....I don’t blame him for being irritated with the crew he had on that show...they were clearly not kitchen people. But at the same token, for those of us who get screamed at even when we know what we are doing, isn’t cool. Good chefs’ don’t lose their cool under pressure...ESPECIALLY good execs...PERIOD.

The dinner rush isn’t the time to lose your only makes things worse. When I was working under this complete ass of a chef, I would be sweating that line...deep into a rush...pushing order after order....something would happen...lets say for example we had to re-fire a steak because the grill got swamped and left a steak on too long...he would scream...which would throw the entire kitchen out of the loop and get us backed up. If he would have kept his cool...and held the steak on the cold side of the grill..until a order for that temp came in...then proceeded cooly with another steak while the rest of us held the prob right? It shouldnt have been...most places I have worked for wouldnt have issues for something like that. But rather...he chose to throw a tantrum...throw loudly guest could hear...which always screwed up the timing. That kind of crap is completely unnecessary. How many times my chef would come at me just to pick a fight...( I was the only I was "weak" to him, so he thought he could get away with it), and I would be deep in prep to set up my line...which meant I didnt have time to deal with his rants. When Im deep in prep to set up for service...I dont have time to babysit my boss because he wants to throw a tantrum about someone in foh or about how he thought it was my fault if we sold out of something...(I never did the ordering because Im a girl, therefore not smart enough for such tasks) but regardless...I had to take the blame. It was petty to me...and shouldnt be coming from the exec. I had one chef instructor when I was in school...who was tough...everyone feared him. He rarely gave good marks. He was German, came from a military background, and pretty much ran class like boot camp. I was one of the few who passed his class...with an A at that...but anyhow, I respected him...because even though he was tough, and rarely yielded for compliments or praise, and he was quite demanding, he NEVER yelled or lost his cool. I fully respected him, and learned so much from him, and was able to perform under the pressure he issued. Its the jerks that act like children I cant stand working for...especially since they have no reason to act that way...they dont have any amazing accomplishments or anything. Even if they did, it would still never justify that kind of behavior.

Oh and Cheffy...I wasnt hyperventilating...Im just not as good at writing as you are ;)

LMAO Mike! We totally agree 100% here. WHY IN THE HELL ARE PEOPLE


Chef Tom Dinardo had some valid points:

Mike I am going to agree with you on this post. I do believe Gordon
Ramsey is a fine chef and his record has proved it with all of what
he has done with his restaurants, etc. His television persona is for
the ratings. Has anyone who has sounded off about how much of a jerk
he is worked in his kitchens? Has anyone known or spoken with anyone
who has worked for him? How do we know that the way he is on a TV
show...a "reality" TV show, is the way he really is? I'm not saying
he is a peach to work for, because I don't know. I just know what he
has accomplished in this industry, and it's pretty good.

Hell's Kitchen is not directed whatsoever on the food. Yeah we see
the "chefs" make food, but is that what the focus is for the people
who watch it? No, they want to see someone dropping F-bombs during a
scream session...they want to see someone's reaction to his rants.
How will they handle it? Will they yell back...will they pass out,
cry, walk out, etc.
How many would watch the show if it was an ex-Sunday school teacher
telling the contestant that they over-cooked twenty prawns...and it's
OK, but you're not paying attention sweety. It's TV...that's all.

The new show, which is the same as his BBC broadcast, is the same
thing. Let's take this guy who has made the same network millions of
dollars in advertising revenue and send him around the country to
yell at some more people. Is he being a chef(?) Is he performing
what he does best on TV(?)...yes.
In a nutshell...if he was really like that 100% of the
would he be able to do what he has done globally by himself...why
would employees want to stick around and work for the guy if he was
really like that? He's probably tough, but very a very good chef and

I was trained under European chefs, they are a very different sort.
They do not care about offending anyone...they will fire you for the
simplist mistake and they don't care who you are or why you are
there. It's all about them and their food when it goes into the
dining room. I watched a chef I worked under smash 10 plated salads
on the floor, one by one, because he didn't like the organization of
the vegetables. Was is the right way to go about showing the person
who built them that he didn't like them? No...but the guy never made
them wrong again.

I learned more from him than anyone about food and running a
kitchen...including how never to act in a kitchen...and how never to
treat a fellow employee or my staff.


Tom, I agree with Mike too.

Some people just dont get it, and these are usually the younger
generation of chefs.

They have never been subjected to the atmosphere that you and I have.
They dont have the hellbent sense of urgency experiences or it was
your ass type of past that we have on our resumes.

They will never know what it feels like to "survive" an accomplished
asshole chef like you and I have. The graduation effect that we feel
so proud about. Like if we survived that bootcamp then we can do
ANYTHING feeling.

And we are better chefs for it.

I , for one, would NEVER trade getting yelled at and berated by the
best chef I have ever worked for anything! We learned SO much from
those chefs-I still talk to them til this day. Our
mentors....assholes as they were... ROCKED! Nobody could outcook them
and they knew it....and so did we. Thats why we stayed and endured.
Thats why we tolerated the verbal made us TOUGH!

Those were the good ol days my brother....

I see these kids nowadays bitch and complain because its hot in the
kitchen and I laugh.

They have no idea Tom....but we do.

I know I will undoubtedly piss some people off by this post. And Im
sure somewhere down the line so and so worked for a rockin chef who
was always cordial and mannerly. Thats great. I'm sure many cooks
learn just fine from politically correct chefs. I dont care who would
walk out if ever talked to like that-to me, you just cant take it.
Thats part of the "heat" in kitchens....and if you cant take the heat-
hit tha road Jack! But give me the Bobby Knight of chefs any day.

I dont wanna hear about who has the "right" to do anything to anyone.

Dont get this post wrong..I'm not being pompous or arrogant-I am just
very proud that I have seen in first person, chefs who make Gordon
Ramsey look like a purring kitten. Nobody can ever take that away
from us.

Chef K

I think times have changed and the chefs we trained under have
started to fade away. The chefs like us who had to survive these guys
are better now for having to be part of that era. And I know there
are "a$$hole" chefs out there today, but why do they have to be like
that? Do they have to act that way because they need to fill the void
of some things they don't know. There is more to being a chef than
booksmarts, cooking skills, etc. It's being a mentor, a coach, a chef
who gains respect from his/her employees because they are becoming a
part of their lives to launch them into the future chef they would
soon become.
I have and always will believe that respect is earned...not given.
Someone should never expect to be respected just because of the
position that they hold, it takes years to gain that. I hate it when
one of my current or former employees whine about the dishwasher or
prep cook not respecting them. I don't do what I do to demand
anyone's respect, but if I am able to gain the respect of my team
through coaching, training, and mentoring, then it's a win-win
situation. I win because it makes me feel wonderful to assist someone
in becoming what they want to be. When they become a chef and hit
their ultimate goal , they win. I just want to be a part of their
past when they look back on this in 10 years and realize I held an
important part in helping them get where they are.

I had a dishwasher while working at the country club back in the
early '90's who I trained to become one of my line cooks. It was easy
because he had no bad habits to prior training from anyone
else. He worked for me for the last three years I was at the club. I
ran into him while I was doing an event several years ago...A Taste
of Cleveland. I'm sautéeing scallops at our station and I feel
something hit me in the head...fluffed it off...I was busy. Again
something landed in my toque from above...a mushroom stem...I look up
and on the second floor of the place where the event was, were four
guys laughing. One of them was my former cook I hadn't seen in 10
years. He came downstairs, wraps his arms around me and wouldn't stop
thanking me for doing what I had done. He ended up being the sous at
a restaurant on the second floor of the mall where we were working.
He had to introduce me to his staff and his lead informed me that
everytime he had something to teach or show him, he always mentioned
me being the one who taught him this and helped him get where he was.
That's worth more than money sometimes.
OK...enough dribble...


Bulla’s Back…

Mike, Tom, Keith, and anyone else who thinks and environment like
Hell's Kitchen is a stomping ground for paying your dues...

I feel bad for you guys.

Your mentors beat you down and took time off your life, for what?

My mentor was a Chef that always had a smile on his face, always kept
the line calm, and always made it happen no matter what.  Could lead
by example and cook circles around anyone.  He was the guy who forced
you to work harder to keep up with his pace.  He was the guy who
inspired you to do something better because he could.  That is who I
want to be.  That is who I model myself after.  I only saw him get
really pissed off once..  That is when I told a front of the house
moron to "F*** Off!" after he screwed up an order.

There are not enough Chef's in this dysfunctional business that meet
this criteria.   The criteria is called "Professionalism."  WE are
professionals, aren't we?  The Chef's in this world need to start
acting like it.  Learn how to lead, instead of abuse to get results.

It was a far cry from the Chef that I had worked for before that
experience.  That guy would throw pots, yell, scream, push and shove,
and all the bullshit that nobody in their right mind would put up
with.  I put up with it.  Looking back, I should have moved on.

I don't think being proud of being abused is part of the job.  It's
part of the problem with this industry.  I have been through boot
camp, and that probably allowed me to stand up to assholes like this.
  But I don't need that kind of abuse from anyone, and I won't put up
with it.  I also will not dish it out.

Leaders are what is needed in this world, not tyrants.

I am not picking on anyone here.  You are all my friends.  I just feel
passionate about this issue.


Chef Tom replies to Bulla’s Thoughts:

I understand what you are saying, don't get me wrong, the chef I
worked for was in no way a hero in my life whatsoever. I would never
say that someone should work for, or if they haven't worked for
someone like this, that they missed out on anything special. I did
not respect this chef in any way, except for his culinary skills. All
I can say is that he gave me knowledge and the skills to do what I
needed to get the job done. He also, as I said, taught me to never be
like him. I'm not proud of him, but the fact that I survived him
which made me better.

I was glad that I worked for the chefs that followed him. They were
the "let's get down to business" chefs, pleasant to work for, they
were able to see in me the ablity to become what I have become and
they were the ones who knew my strengths and weaknesses and were able
to focus on those abilities that I needed to learn. I can say though,
that working for the arrogant European chefs gave me the ability to
see that I am in no way like them, I have self respect as a chef, I
understand people's feelings more.

As far as calling it would go as far as standing next to
you and telling you (loudly) that "you're not working fast
enough"...or "I've shown you this before...why are you doing it this
way". Yeah, he wasn't nice about it, but it never got to the point of
calling anyone names or degrading anyone by telling them they were
a "fat stupid cow" or "a f-ing idiot", like Gordon does for the TV
audience. Yeah, he smashed a bunch of salad plates because they
weren't right, but the guy that made them really did wrong and he
should have known after being trained for 2 months in that position.

Some chefs have different ways of managing, some by fear and
intimidation, some by support and reinforcement. The latter being the
best and most positive way to get what you want out of an employee.
Positive reinforcement is better than negative in many aspects, but
you still can learn from both methods. Negative reinforcment is not
the chosen path by most. They can still be a good chef, but it
doesn't make them a great one.
Keep the passion...

PS....Good thread Mike. This is what keeps the conversation going. Like
Dave said in his last post about being makes us look at
ourselves and draws out our feelings about important issues like this

Chef Keith reflects on Disney Kitchen Nirvana…

"My mentor was a Chef that always had a smile on his face.."

Dave I'm sorry but this sounds like a perfect, Disney "G" rated
kitchen Nirvana with positive Zen Chi energy just radiating calmness
and peace for the cooks would bust out a song and
dance like the Oompa Loompas do in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate

What would Anthony Bourdain say about this?

Testosterone free kitchens are what we have today. I dont know of too
many tyrants anymore. The kitchen dictator is a thing of the past.

Basketball changed and Bobby Knight is outdated.

Same thing happened to professional kitchens. The Chef is no more
judged by his abilities, notoriety or his accolades. It is merely how
he reacts to pressure, his attitude and candor in sticky situations.

Lets get one thing straight-I dont abuse anyone, in fact I am
probably too laid back. A chef has to be an asshole sometimes

You said you were passionate about this subject. Me too. I am not
saying that Nazi Chefs are the right way to manage a kitchen-but damn
were they fun to work with while they could get away with it.... and
like I said I learned so much from these guys. So were they a bad
chef after all? They merely said to people what all the other cooks
were thinking but didnt have the balls to say.

This entire country has changed. 25 years ago you could say anything
to anybody about whatever you liked and people just had to get over
it. Not anymore. Nowadays you cant fart without somebody getting
their feelings hurt and trying to file a lawsuit.

But what does it matter now? Those days are over and we all know it.
Dave, like it or not I am a product of that crazy environment. Just
because my one or two of my mentors were that crazy doesnt mean that
I have to be.... but my experiences are priceless.

Chef Keith

> Dave I'm sorry but this sounds like a perfect, Disney "G" rated
> kitchen Nirvana with positive Zen Chi energy just radiating calmness
> and peace for the cooks would bust out a song and
> dance like the Oompa Loompas do in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
> Factory.

LMAO!  Well, it wasn't quite that rosy.  But seriously, Dorothy called
the guy "The Muppet Chef."  I was the one being the asshole, spewing
forth the years of bad influence I got from a tyrant.  If I acted in a
way that was particularly embarrassing I would sit down and ask the
Muppet Chef what I could do about it.  Everyone in the front was
afraid of me.  He would say "That can be a good thing."  So, it wasn't
like the place was not without it's dysfunction.  As much as cooking
ability, leadership is a skill that I have tried to develop over the
years.  In my opinion, it is a skill that is sorely needed in every
part of society today.

> Lets get one thing straight-I dont abuse anyone, in fact I am
> probably too laid back. A chef has to be an asshole sometimes

Yes, but it's the way a Chef handles the situation where he has to be
an asshole that makes a difference.  If you have to chew someone out,
you don't want to belittle them on the line in the middle of service
in front of their peers.  You don't want to use abusive language.
That just creates resentments, and lowers morale.

I am sure you are a good Chef, Keith.  I never meant to imply that you
are abusive.  I hope it didn't come across that way.

> This entire country has changed. 25 years ago you could say anything
> to anybody about whatever you liked and people just had to get over
> it. Not anymore. Nowadays you cant fart without somebody getting
> their feelings hurt and trying to file a lawsuit.
> But what does it matter now? Those days are over and we all know it.
> Dave, like it or not I am a product of that crazy environment. Just
> because my one or two of my mentors were that crazy doesnt mean that
> I have to be.... but my experiences are priceless.

I am glad you have fond memories of those experiences.  Yes the world
is a little to PC these days, but think of how far the profession has
come in 25 years in this country.  There was no food network, or
reality shows about Chef's 25 years ago.  There were no news segments
featuring chef's.  There were very few culinary schools.  Fine dining
wasn't typically affordable to the masses 25 years ago.  Things have
changed so much.  Most for the better, some for the worse.

I have fond memories of my 1969 lime green Volkswaggon Baja Bug from
when I was a kid, but I wouldn't want to drive that thing today.

I understand where you guys are coming from on this issue.  I would
agree that most kids these days don't know what work really is, and
most have no desire to work.  That's the biggest change for the worse,
especially for our industry.

I think what set me off is that I feel Ramsey is causing damage to
this profession by misrepresenting it on TV.

I admit that I can laugh and be entertained by the show at times.
It's like a guilty pleasure.

That's my bottom line on Ramsey.


Dave...I think you are correct. I am always asked by non-foodies if
that's the way I run my kitchen. People that watch that show are
thinking that's the way chefs are treating their employees. That would
be my beef with that show.

I enjoy watching Top Chef. Although sometimes it's the judges that are
making me crazy. I enjoy some of the guest judges and I like Tom
Collichio (sp?), but some of his comments I question. A few weeks back
he made a comment about truffles not being from Italy. What? Rocco
DiSpirito was questioning that one too.

If Padma wasn't on the show, I probably wouldn't watch it. hahaha


Dave we definitely agree here.

Sure Ramsey is a brilliant chef in his own rights.

I just don’t like what he is doing to our industry. He makes the chef
position look bad by being such a jerk....unfortunately the ratings are

I would still love to work with the guy, but as far as projecting that
professional chef image I still look to Emeril Lagasse for that.

1 comment:

LOSER PAUL said...

Hello! :)