I have been in the restaurant business for some little time now, and I've worked with some cooks who knew their stuff. Men who could have thirty entrees coming and going, AC[lightning bolt]DC raging in the background, people shouting orders from every angle, and make it all add up to perfection. Men with, as they say, chops.
So when I encounter pettifoggering incompetence in checks and a white coat, I make discreet inquiries. And I invariably find that said walking, shouting, waste of two feet of counter space is a recent graduate of one of the "culinary institutes" which have been springing up like twisted, urushiolic weeds.
I can only imagine the life of these graduates before they found their calling. Lying on the couch in their parents' basement, dreaming of a land of Cocaigne with rivers of Mountain Dew and Cheeto-trees, inhabited entirely by girls -- gone wild! And as they lift one orange-powdered finger to check out the blocked soft-core pr0n channel for a breast or maybe an elbow, there it is: Destiny. An ad telling them that they too can have a career, be respected, even worshipped. In two years, they shall be one of the elite, a fire-breathing no-holds-barred chef de cuisine with a tall hat and a knife almost large enough to compensate for Nature's cruellest jest.
I do not know if these institution teach micro-managing and dim unpleasantness masquerading as a "firm hand". It may be that the sort of person attracted to this life possesses the necessary qualities from birth; that the statistics are simply the result of self-selection. I myself believe that both nature and nurture play their parts. Some are born self-serving, incompetent, lazy, rigid, stupid, and bullying; some have self-service, incompetence, laziness, rigidity, stupidity, and a bullying spirit thrust upon them. Doubtless it is drilled into them at everyone else in their kitchen will be just as fumble-fingered and thieving as they, and so cannot be trusted to boil spit.
But: I am not some n00b, to be screeched at. I know kitchens, and I know how to fit myself into them so that this machine can sing. I have put in my time, so when some two-years' study -- who not only doesn't know from monter au beurre but who couldn't pour Pinot Blanc from a boot if the instructions were on the heel -- gets in my face, the only thing keeping them from being taken apart piece by piece, cleaned, dressed, and wrapped neatly for display is my innate good humor. Said humor is just about dried up.
So culinary institute grads, just out of school and looking for work: I am sorry that you were lied to. I am sorry that instead of the five star French restaurant in which they assured you they could find you a place you ended up here. But so help me God, if you get uppity with me one more time, you will find out how fast I can put you down. Right out of school you are not an asset. You are worthless. Nothing you do could not be done as well and faster by a well-trained chimp, except PETA would get ticked off. So please, for both our sakes, stay out of my way.
P.S. Why, yes, I do blame Anthony Bourdain.