NYTimes article- Dining Out 1-17-07- Daniel Boulud
While I haven't finished the article (to be honest, only read about a 1/3 of it and plan on finishing it during my lunch hour), it certainly made me think about highbrow dining in New York City. As a NYC foodie AND a Social Worker, maybe I should be more attentive to the treatment of workers at the restaurants I frequent AND the restaurants I would love to try just once. Then again, as such a public figure, I wouldn't put it past Boulud for being an easy target.
Thoughts on the article?
I am admittedly biased, as when I lived in New York I frequented Daniel and got to know Chef Boulud a little. He is NOT a racist. He IS a perfectionist.
To me, the most telling line in the article was, "At one point, they say, Spanish was banned among employees; only English and French were allowed."
Uh, Daniel is a French restaurant in an English-speaking country.
Many French restaurants ONLY allow French to be spoken in the kitchen.
Hang in there, Chef Boulud. Don't let the a-holes get you down.
That's the protesters' story. Later in the article, it says:
"A manager did tell workers they shouldn’t speak Spanish at the restaurant, but that was a mistake and was corrected the same week, said Brett Traussi, director of operations at the Dinex Group, which oversees Mr. Boulud's five restaurants and his catering company."
Also: "Many Bangladeshi staff members at Gramercy Tavern, where Mr. Colicchio used to be the chef, had the potential to be excellent waiters, but were not familiar with wine because, as observant Muslims, they didn’t drink it."
Agree. The chef is a perfectionist. Something that most minimum-wagers can't deal with. If he were a racist he wouldn't be hiring the people who are whining in the first place.
restaurants, especially chef-owned high-end dining, (in which i've worked for the last 17 years) are notoriously difficult and demanding environments.
i finished the article, and yes it sounds like they're picking somebody who is high-profile to try to make a point. sorry, but i don't think it's a restaurant's responsibility to teach someone english. if a worker shows initiative and drive, they get promoted. often times that means learning things (like english) as quickly as possible.
i worked with a breakfast waiter who constantly complained because he never got promoted to dinner. he was a very strict muslim and refused to touch or serve alcohol. um, how could he effectively wait tables at dinner?
if boulud is a rascist, he wouldn't be ultimately hiring native spanish speakers. he's french, it's a french restaurant. diners "like" hearing french accents in that environment. further many of these european waiters have been to school, and/or have experience with far higher levels of service. sorry, but yes, they will get moved up the chain more quickly than those whose skills are not as polished.
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