Big Brother- Mentoring in the Kitchen

Good morning, friends and neighbors!

In the space of a year and change, I have trained ten people in some way at my bakery. Some just to pick up a couple tasks left hanging while I’m gone, others to be assistants and stand-ins so that I can take a day off now and again. They were professionals, students, coworkers, wanna-be lifers. A few were just honestly curious- like the dishwashers that wanted to learn to pipe pate au choux, or the barista with some time to kill who wanted to try a couple recipes for themselves.

A bunch stuck around for a while- some got let go. Every one of them learned something though- and I learned that I’m really good at being a big brother.

Animated GIF of Uncle Iroh from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” sitting in front of a fire drinking tea.
Somewhere along the way, I was called the “Uncle Iroh” of the bakery.
Not gonna lie, that’s some high praise.
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Gettin’ Turnt in Comfy Pants

Good morning, friends and neighbors!

We get bombarded by stereotypes these days, and whether we buy into them or not is our own call. Age groups, races, political affiliations, and so on.

The trouble with stereotypes is that, to some degree, they all have a seed of truth.
“Jews become doctors/accountants/lawyers”, for example, because studying, analysis, debate, and intellectualism are a big part of Jewish life and faith.

Obviously, stereotypes are by definition generalizations, which are always foolish. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want me to represent them in court, or balance their books.

It’s an interesting thing, though, to be conscious of a stereotype of one’s own group and actively seek to embody it. The stereotypes can act as identifiers for the group- a way for the members to set themselves apart from others, and even revel in it.

Yes, I love lox and cream cheese bagels and matzo ball soup- #jewishastevye.

When joining a new group, though, those very actions can be interpreted negatively as being misinformed or “being a try-hard.”

Here’s a story from the kitchen of someone I know. It’s about how actively pursuing the stereotypes you think will ingratiate can actually alienate, the (hopefully) changing face of kitchen life, and how old souls spend their evenings.

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Masculinity: Handle With Care

Good evening, friends and neighbors!

In the process of… “researching” for the top 10 cocktails list, one of my friends from back home asked a very serious and pointed question:
“What, no Cosmos?”

If I’m honest, I’ve never had a Cosmopolitan. Besides the fact I’m not a huge vodka or cranberry fan (outside of martinis and/or scones), I rarely like my drinks too sweet. Those are all good reasons not to get a cocktail. There was also one bad reason- that it’s a “chick drink.”

Dude, go get one. Get good vodka in there, and report back”
Alright, but I bet I’ll get a funny look from the bartender.”
If you do, take a picture. Just get the drink- it’s like cranberry candy.”

So I did. I walked into a new bar that I had just found, bellied-up to the bar, loosened my tie a bit, and asked the bartender for a Cosmopolitan.
The bartender- a woman- didn’t make a face, but she DID pause for a moment before saying “Okay, you want that in a stem or a bucket?”

“Um.. a stem? That’s how it’s supposed to be served, right?”
Oh yeah- but some guys find stemware girly.”

I’d already been conditioned to think of certain cocktails as “chick drinks.” That was bad enough- but STEMWARE? Using the proper drinking vessel for a certain drink is “unmanly?”

Guys- if this is for real, we have some SERIOUS fragility problems.

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Guys, We Need To Talk

Good evening, friends and neighbors.
This post is dedicated to the women who have saved my life- they’ll know who they are.

This blog post is… well, it’s going to be a little rough. I’m going to be talking about kitchen culture, of course- but in particular some of the big problems with it. Ones that we ourselves are causing and perpetuating- the abusive, macho, meathead culture that we have glorified, and how it hurts our female comrades and ourselves. We have seen icons fall, and powerful culinary empires crumble, simply because the man in charge decided he was going to be a “guy” rather than a man.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would never EVER discuss politics on this blog, and I am holding to that. Regardless of the political twists that other pundits have put on the topic, this state of affairs transcends political philosophies- it cannot be allowed to continue.

This blog post is aimed mostly at the guys in the audience, and especially those who are frowning or wincing after that first paragraph. If this is a little much for you, then carry on- hopefully the next topic will be a bit more lighthearted, maybe with some goofy pictures or foodporn.
Guys, I hope you stick around though- because fixing this is absolutely 100% on us- all of us- and I will tell you exactly why.

I’ll start with one time I was a coward.


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