I’ve also been thinking. Wayyyy too much. And now, you shall all be subjected to it. For those who don’t care, but do like fudge, instructions are below. If there are spelling or grammatical errors, sorry, but I can’t be bothered to proof read. It’s 5 am.
It’s true I’ve been known to look a people who are just entering the kitchen trade and tell them to suck it up.
The hours are long, the pay is shit, and no one cares how tired you are, how much your feet hurt, that your back aches, that you are screamed at all day for not being good enough, that you have no friends, you smoke too much, eat too little. I’ve stood there and validated this industry.
I don’t want to do it anymore.
Our brigade started with more commies than skilled staff. Generally, in other industries, this is exactly how it should be. The cogs grind away doing the millions of minute tasks and the management do little but look over their work and yay or nay, and the top makes the money for overseeing. Kitchens require heavy middle management, the Chef the Parties. They do a majority of the work, supported by the Sous Chefs, who deal with the most difficult tasks, guarantee the CdPs are doing their jobs, and troubleshooting. There is a hirearchy that is supposed to be adheared to.
Which means, if a Commis fucks up, the CdP tells them. If the CdP fucks up, the Sous tells them. If the Sous fucks up, the Head Chef deals with it.
And who ever is above you is respected with a “Yes, Chef” or a “No, Chef”, depending on how in the shit you are.
I don’t remember learning about the hierarchy. It was touched on in school, yes. Maybe I figured out the “Yes, Chef” response when I went to Le Cordon Bleu to see a class, before I signed over my life to cheffing. Most things come to me through observation rather than questions. And what confuses me in observation I google.
The new generation of people moving into kitchens are maybe not so observant, and I need to accept that. But I have a good deal of respect for them, awe maybe, for choosing at such a young age, especially considering the rumour that cheffing is the second most stressful job (after a surgeon — and no, I don’t believe this, but many chefs do).
These people, the Commies, may not know much. They may not work fast. But Commies, from what I recall, aren’t supposed to be like that. Unfortunately I think that they are almost always taken advantage of; the fun kitchen jobs never fall on them. They are usually in a corner surrounded by sacks of potatoes, reminiscent of the Alice the Whaler cartoon with the original Mickey Mouse sitting in the hull peeling madly. Something that tends to get lost in the madness of, say, a new restaurant, is that commies aren’t there to be slaves, they are there to learn.
I remember the frustration of being unable to learn because there was too much happening. Too little organization. No sleep. No staff food. That’s why I went home and taught myself there. One cannot assume everyone is going to be so willful or self reliant. It’s not fair. When someone is told they are going to learn and grow in a job interview, it’s everyone’s responsibility to teach them. Especially since everyone should be taught how to do their job.
I try to talk to them. I try to teach them, to answer their questions. And every time I do this, they are screamed at to go slave away at something. Granted the work needs to be done, obviously, and I don’t think kitchens should be about standing around chatting, but people need to know why they are doing things and how it should be done. Screaming THIS IS SHIT and walking away won’t cut it. Maybe it did in the 70s, 80s, 90s, but now people are brought up with the idea that they can be whatever they want, they can be happy.
Is there anything wrong with that?
For a while I thought there was, that it was an unreasonable demand.
Now I’m not so sure. There are enough places now that are rising above the chain quality of boil in a bag garbage. Many good chefs who care about ingredients, who respect the environment and respect their paying customers, who aren’t about to lie about ingredients or trick people into paying more for shit, who want to pass on what they know to young, bright-faced, curious people who want to know how to cook properly.
If you’re young. And you want to cook. And you want to experiment. And make people happy with delicious food. Quit your job in the shithole and find the place that makes you feel at home while at work, somewhere where you can feel proud to say you work. Don’t settle for less.
Here’s my fudge recipe. It’s not hard, it doesn’t involve smarts. It’s good, the waitresses eat more of it than the customers, so that means it’s tasty, yes?
200g Butter, cubed
175g Dark Chocolate, chopped
Milk, butter, sugar. In a tall pot. Medium heat. Boil. Once it boils turn it down to med-low heat and let it bubble away for a while. It will take an hour or so, but don’t go by the time. Use a thermometer. And stir frequently. If it catches a bit, don’t worry about that too much. The dark chocolate will darken it so you won’t be able to tell, and I highly recommend passing it through a sieve before setting it anyway. Just don’t let it burn or the flavour will be fucked.
The magic fudge temperature is reputedly 238F, or soft ball stage. I disagree completely. If you want sweet crumbly hard shit, by all means cook it that far. If you want nice, soft, smooth fudge, cook no further than 236F, 237F if it is raining. Be careful checking the temp and the mixture is hot (clearly) and will spit and burn your hand/arm. When it reaches the magic 236F, remove from the stove and immediately pour into a large pan. You have to stir fudge as it cools. The agitation causes the sugars to crystalize. Fudge needs the sugar temp and the crystal development to set properly. Stirring it in a roasting pan or another large sauce pan will help it cool down quicker, thus avoiding the dreaded fudge arm.
Stir the fudge for about 5 minutes, then add your chocolate. Adding it too soon can cause a burned chocolate flavour. If the fudge doesn’t start setting immediately after the chocolate is added, it was not cooked enough and may not set fully. When it gets thick but the ribbons relax somewhat after 10 seconds, transfer the mix to a greased or parchment lined 8-10” tin. Let set at room temp, cut, and stuff in face.