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Potty-mouthed chefs in view of guests?

curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 11:58 AM

Dining out at a highly-acclaimed restaurant with an open kitchen last night and was struck by how vulgar the chef was! Cursing at his staff constantly, and not just the cooks in the kitchen. Am I just being too sensitive? What do you all think about this?

And to make it relevant to the Boston board, I've been to a fair number of open-kitchen restaurants in other major cities and have never been taken aback as much as I was here. What's up with Beantown? (or Camberville in this case)

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  1. jgg13 RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 12:04 PM

    Craigie on main? :)

    1. hiddenboston RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 12:12 PM

      It also happens in LA, at least based on a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode I once saw, LOL.

      Seriously, though--I very rarely see (or hear) this in Boston-area restaurants. I'd just go somewhere else, as there are plenty of places where this doesn't happen.

      1. r
        roro1831 RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 12:25 PM

        At Shopsin's in NYC the customers may get cursed at

        3 Replies
        1. re: roro1831
          bushwickgirl RE: roro1831 May 7, 2010 12:42 PM

          "customers may get cursed at"

          What? Well, that's not nice, unless it's part of the restaurant's schtick. How fun.

          There normally is quite a lot of cursing in restaurant kitchens but I think to be professional one has to carry onself in a professionall manner; cursing should be toned down in an open kitchen. I guess old habits die hard for some chefs.

          1. re: roro1831
            EWSflash RE: roro1831 May 7, 2010 06:36 PM

            Remind me not to go there. I'd be too tempted to fling a glass of water in the offender's face.

            1. re: roro1831
              LiviaLunch RE: roro1831 May 14, 2010 07:52 PM

              I was so happy when Kenny told me to go f*** myself, in his old Village location, before Trillin's article was published.

            2. invinotheresverde RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 01:28 PM

              Just to play devil's advocate: why is a chef cursing at his staff such a big deal? They're just words, right? I suppose if there were young children around, parents may not want them to be exposed to such words, but kids at "highly-acclaimed restaurant"s are probably few and far between.

              Anyhow, all chefs I know have trash mouths.

              13 Replies
              1. re: invinotheresverde
                EWSflash RE: invinotheresverde May 7, 2010 06:42 PM

                So do I, but I find it uncomfortable to overhear. The verbal abuse part is the worst part of it. I don't know how chefs have managed to be expected to be abusive to their staffs, anyway. It's like listening to a narcissistic adult temper tantrum. Spare me.

                1. re: EWSflash
                  Lizard RE: EWSflash May 8, 2010 02:27 AM

                  I think it's interesting to see how quickly the use of vulgarity is interpreted as abuse. I'd like to think of these in different ways. Namely, if it's just vulgar language, I don't mind at all, In fact, I really enjoy some top swearing and anything that is particularly creative will potentially enhance my experience. But if I am forced to witness abuse and workers berating one another, my feelings change.

                  1. re: Lizard
                    smartie RE: Lizard May 8, 2010 06:14 AM

                    yes if you hear the chef in conversation with a line cook and it's 'yadayadayad that is so f***ing funny' then that might be ok.

                    But any boss berating staff in front of customers, clients or patients is not a laughing matter. Irritation is one thing but to belittle and scold when done in public is unacceptable. Now would someone please tell my boss these are the finer points of management.

                    1. re: Lizard
                      alanbarnes RE: Lizard May 8, 2010 07:16 AM

                      +1. An employers can be incredibly demeaning and abusive without ever getting close to George Carlin's "seven dirty words." On the other hand, a chef can drop the f-bomb in every single sentence without being abusive.

                      1. re: Lizard
                        EWSflash RE: Lizard May 8, 2010 10:15 AM

                        'yadayadayad that is so f***ing funny'
                        wouldn't run up any alarms occasionally, although gee whiz, TRY to watch your mouth, anyway. But if you read "Kitchen Confidential" or ever watched Gordon Ramsey do anything, you know what I'm talking about. Gutter language and verbal abuse go hand in hand, especially in a restaurant kitchen.

                        In the absence of verbal abuse, read through a few of these posts and substitute loud flatulence for cursing, and you might get a better idea of how I feel. And flatulence is funnier than a garbage mouth, usually, maybe not so much in a restaurant.

                        1. re: Lizard
                          PeterL RE: Lizard May 8, 2010 11:49 AM

                          OP said "cursing at his staff". That's verbal abuse in my book.

                          1. re: PeterL
                            alanbarnes RE: PeterL May 8, 2010 11:58 AM

                            I dunno. "Don't take that plate until I've finished the f**king garnish" certainly constitutes cursing at the staff, and is undoubtedly vulgar, but I'm not sure it rises to the level of abuse. On the other hand, "you moron, anyone who's even marginally competent should be able to see that plate isn't ready to go out" is not vulgar, but it's certainly abusive.

                            1. re: PeterL
                              iluvtennis RE: PeterL May 9, 2010 10:16 AM

                              I'm with you on this. Cursing or not, i don't like to see bosses get attitude with the staff in front of customers. It think it's unprofessional. Take care of your issues away from customers, please.

                        2. re: invinotheresverde
                          PeterL RE: invinotheresverde May 7, 2010 07:34 PM

                          Because I go out to dinner to have a good time. I know they have trashy mouths, but I don't want to hear them when I am out trying to have a good time.

                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                            PeterL RE: invinotheresverde May 7, 2010 07:37 PM

                            Because I am out trying to have a good time at a restaurant. To witness verbal abuse is not my idea of a good time.

                            1. re: PeterL
                              invinotheresverde RE: PeterL May 8, 2010 08:31 AM

                              Swearing and verbal abuse aren't synonyms.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                PeterL RE: invinotheresverde May 8, 2010 11:51 AM

                                OP said "cursing at his staff". That's verbal abuse.

                                1. re: PeterL
                                  invinotheresverde RE: PeterL May 8, 2010 08:30 PM

                                  See alan's post above.

                          2. s
                            smartie RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 04:37 PM

                            I always wondered how Ramsay gets away with it on TV, not only on Hell's Kitchen but also on Kitchen NIghtmares.

                            I would not like my dinner interspersed with swearing from the kitchen.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: smartie
                              Sarah RE: smartie May 7, 2010 04:56 PM

                              ...not from the kitchen...not from a neighboring table...

                              1. re: smartie
                                PeterL RE: smartie May 7, 2010 07:36 PM

                                Its a TV show.

                              2. EWSflash RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 06:34 PM

                                Listening to verbal abuse of any kind is VERY offensive to me, whether it's vulgar or not. If I'm paying for a meal I should be able to expect a pleasant atmosphere, or at the very least a non-hostile one. I swear like a sailor myself, but I try not to lob f-bombs at innocent bystanders.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: EWSflash
                                  cuccubear RE: EWSflash May 10, 2010 07:29 AM

                                  Yeah, I don’t want to hear someone getting beat up verbally in public either. Take them out back or into the freezer, but not within earshot of customers. A real turn off.

                                2. PeterL RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 07:35 PM

                                  Ruth Reichl wrote about this in one of her books. She went to a restaurant early and witnessed the hostess being abusive to her staff. That turned Reichl off completely about the restaurant.

                                  1. JerryMe RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 7, 2010 08:20 PM

                                    OK - Here's the scenario - Working a labor job and I need to use the can (restroom). Make a run to the nearest fast food restaurant (I don't remember which one), use the facilities and decide to purchase SOMETHING cuz' I don't want the pb&j that I packed for lunch. Get in line and listen to the manager? boss? totally dressing down one of the crew members. Threatening her with his finger in her face and telling her she would be fired. She was asking a legitimate question (can I take an order for lunch ilo breakfast?). I sincerely lost my appetite (and I was really hungry and didn't want pb&J)

                                    So, Yes! It is disrespectful, certainly ruined my appetite even in a fast food resto.

                                    I've been a waitress and a dishwasher. I remember the repercussions when you pissed off a chef / cook / boss / manager. I don't think it adds to the 'atmosphere' in any way and it certainly would make me want to take my appetite and dollars elsewhere.

                                    1. thew RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 8, 2010 12:09 PM

                                      there are no bad words.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: thew
                                        FoodFuser RE: thew May 8, 2010 01:39 PM

                                        Then my early years of having to eat Ivory Soap to wash out bad vocab was just a futile exercise is sudsability, rather than subsidizing a fluent adulthood?

                                        Cussin' in restaurants is just one more reason to open our homes to friends and family as we explore the journey of home-cooked food.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser
                                          thew RE: FoodFuser May 8, 2010 02:27 PM

                                          yes. it was a waste of soap, and misguided parenting, in my opinion

                                          plenty of well rounded, intelligent, articulate people "cuss"

                                          1. re: thew
                                            Lizard RE: thew May 9, 2010 12:39 AM

                                            Agreed with Thew. Once upon a time, I was told that the use of curse words demonstrated an absence of a verbal imagination. Then I encountered Charlie Brooker (real person) and Malcolm Tucker (fictional character from The Thick of It) and realised that this could be an art form whose eloquence is indisputable. %$£@-ing poetry.

                                      2. susancinsf RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 9, 2010 11:08 AM

                                        Interestingly, Jon Stewart asked Mario Batali a very similar question when Batali appeared on his show this week (referencing Gordon Ramsay). Batali's response was basically that in his opinion an abusive, yelling, cursing chef was a chef who lacked confidence in his own ability to lead in the kitchen....

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                          thew RE: susancinsf May 9, 2010 03:20 PM

                                          which is very at odds at what people who work for batali say about the way he runs his kitchen. he isn;t a pussycat in there, by all accounts

                                          1. re: thew
                                            susancinsf RE: thew May 9, 2010 03:31 PM

                                            not 'being a pussycat' and being abusive are two different things, of course. That said, it may not be at odds. Perhaps he just knows himself well.

                                        2. b
                                          beevod RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 11, 2010 07:31 AM

                                          I don't mind a cursing chef. It's when he's also holding a cleaver in his hand that I start to back off.

                                          1. toodie jane RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 13, 2010 07:49 AM

                                            In my experience, people who use curse words, f-bombs and the like, in public areas are doing so because they like to hear themselves use "power" words. They like the attention these words get them. It makes them feel strong.

                                            Big words, little....?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: toodie jane
                                              thew RE: toodie jane May 13, 2010 08:02 AM

                                              nonsense. language is language, and it all has uses

                                              1. re: toodie jane
                                                alanbarnes RE: toodie jane May 13, 2010 10:47 AM

                                                As Clarence Darrow said, "there are damn few words in the English language that people understand. About 20. So we damn well better use every damn one of them."

                                                1. re: toodie jane
                                                  EWSflash RE: toodie jane May 14, 2010 09:17 PM

                                                  Well, I agree with you.

                                                2. b
                                                  beevod RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 15, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                  I'd send the chef to bed without supper.

                                                  1. Chemicalkinetics RE: curiouscatwithninelives May 15, 2010 08:33 AM

                                                    Like Chef Gordon Ramsay, huh? I heard this is not abnormal in closed kitchen either.

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