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Wait a second now - regarding Top Chef II - kitchen manners? are you kidding?

I've read the thoughts... but where does every one seem to get this idea that a professional attitude is the rule in restaurant kitchens?

Back-stabbing, nasty, ugly, churlish, sometimes even homicidal behavior happens behind the doors you never travel through... nor would want to. I say this from personal experience. It's nasty in there. So people are ganging up on someone? So what? That's nothing. I knew a chef who had to leave his previous job and move to another state because of getting pissed off at a waiter and dousing him with hot soup.

Just because you feel things should go a certain way, does not mean they're going to. Expecting some kind of manners in a kitchen is just naive. It's a zoo. A crazy, effing, mess of a sometimes wonderful, sometimes suicide inducing, mostly crazy-making place to be.

These people are kittens compared to some of the people I worked with. Honestly. Spend a week back there. See if you don't feel the same way.

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  1. Amen. My most vivid memory is watching a grill chef - armed with a carving knife - chase the sous chef through the kitchen immediately before lunch service (lovers tiff).

    Any time you introduce a group of creatively driven humans to a high-pressure, time-compressed environment you're going to see some pretty interesting psychology.

    1 Reply
    1. re: artgeek

      I've worked in a kitchen and the chef where I worked would never have put up with stupid behavior like someone chasing someone with a knife. If we were caught walking around without the knife pointing down, it was bad. Yes, there was backbiting and personality issues..and yes, a dishwasher did hit a line cook once, but the chef wasn't there at the time. :)

      My mom always owned restaurants, and believe me, none of that crap went on there. I doubt Thomas Keller would put up with it.

    2. So its a good thing that the show is perpetuating the Kitchen Confidential stereotype, sans the coke? I think people were hoping that it was not such a cliche.

      Also, Harold, the winner from Season 1, never once laid into anyone, nor got into a hissy fit during his rise to his season's win. Maybe he's different when working the hot plate, but he was classy on the show.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Rocknrope

        I see your point but I sincerely doubt you've ever worked in a kitchen. Some things are cliche simply because they're true.

        1. re: bryan

          Actually I have, in my parents restaurant which they owned for 25 years, but not as a cook. And I did observe alot of the behavior you describe and others have experienced. I wasn't so much disputing what you said, I think it's just always disappointing when people use their profession as an excuse to act like a jackass, particularly when they're being viewed by millions.

          1. re: Rocknrope

            My dad owned a restaurant when I was growing up, too, but I don't ever remember seeing this kind of drama in the kitchen. Maybe it was the kind of place it was--definitely not "fine dining"--but folks just didn't act this way. I worked in the kitchen for awhile, myself (granted, it was at 5:30 a.m., so maybe folks just didn't have the energy for drama then), and was in & out of the kitchen when I worked in other parts of the place. I never remember seeing such bad behavior, or hearing such language.

            But I was talking to my dad about this at Christmas time, and he said the cliche and what we're seeing on TC with the chefs drinking a lot was true to his experience. He had to get at least a couple of folks into rehab while they worked for him.

        2. re: Rocknrope

          I don't think they are perpetuating a steretype, I think this type of acting out is fodder for die in the wool reality show lovers. Let's face it conflict sells.

          1. re: Rocknrope

            [quote]
            Also, Harold, the winner from Season 1, never once laid into anyone, nor got into a hissy fit during his rise to his season's win. Maybe he's different when working the hot plate, but he was classy on the show.
            [/quote]

            At least not on the air.

          2. And yes, too much unnecessary drama, but otherwise, no one would tune in. Cat fights and rudeness are what make ratings.

            Us personal chefs have been contacted numerous times by the scouts for these different shows. Myself only twice, others maybe more. The first time, I was interested because the payoff was $50K, so when I responded, they sent me a questionnaire to fill out.

            What they WANT to see is turmoil and disagreement in your household. This is not only desired, but mandatory. My husband was going to file divorce papers if I pursued it any further. At what price integrity, or lack thereof.

            1. Tracy L and personalcheffie are right on- this is a reality show first and last, and somewhere in between there is a little creativity and execution in the kitchen.

              1. There's a real difference between on-the-job quirkiness, or even bad behavior, and behaving badly and humiliating others in front of television cameras. I worked in a business where people often lost their tempers, used all sorts of colorful language and sometimes tortured others, presumably because of pressure or personality quirks. This is quite different from contestants on a reality show, who claim to be accomplished or professional, tormenting others (or worse, one selected scapegoat) in front of a film crew and, ultimately, a national audience. And, as others have said, all this while performing what appears to be some mediocre feats in the fake kitchen.