Real chefs vs. Food Network "personalities"

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
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    norcal
    #1
    I have lived in a tourist town for most of my life, and in the nearly 50 years I have seen many a chef work in a restaurant or own one. I had my first job in a kitchen.

    Though I live in a small area, there are a few restaurants that have gained some exposure from the Food Network (and other such specialty networks), and one local chef (a trained chef, that is) got an offer from the TV entertainment giant.

    He turned down the show, as did other real chefs all over the world during the rise of that network. I would usually hear the same complaints from chefs and food experts that the show was fluff, or entertainment, or about personalities that would do well in front of a camera.

    Out of curiosity, over the years, I looked up many of the personalities and was shocked to find out how many were not chefs, or even trained cooks.

    One such person who is normally called a chef (do to high profile on TV) was trained as short order cook (maybe) and came down to a restaurant in my area and hosted a TV special. Recipes were faxed down from his staff of well over 100 people who handled the travel plans, PR, lighting, sound, security, etc. and the local chefs had to do the work. Though the event claimed the so-called chef turned celbrity was going to cook his dishes and feed the ticket paying audience, the fact is he did not do any cooking outside of a demonstration. He flew in, did the TV special, and flew out and many locals were disappointed to say the least.

    The worst part of what I have seen with this attitude of celebrity chefs is that not only are many not chefs, many don't even cook anymore nor did they ever cook in their career. Go to almost any local restaurant and you will see a bio of the chef and his/her recipes even if the said chef is long deceased and I find this trend of non-cooking fake chefs a scam. I understand law firms or accounting firms who may have the names of long deceased founder/partners, but restaurants?

    This cult of personality is even more shocking when one sees the bulk of the work around where I am done by illegal immigrants (yes, I am in California), who have the skills no doubt, but cook for a "name" who doesn't cook, or like mentioned before, is not even alive or active in the food industry on the kitchen side of things.

    I looked even further to see the local ads for the restaurants in my area and even in restaurants that feature great Hispanic head chefs, the ad leaves them out and shows the owner's wife, or son/daughter, claiming that this non-cooking person is the "chef". I know some of these people and while some of them have stepped foot in a restaurant, it wasn't to cook. The racism is blatant, and when I found out from the wife of a Hispanic chef that many chefs make ten dollars an hour, or even less (as little as $20 dollars a day, cash under the table), I was floored. There's an area near the employment department for the state where you can easily find an illegal immigrant trained and ready to work in a kitchen of any cuisine. I am not so against a cook trying to make a living because they don't happen to have a green card, I just don't like that they are exploited for twenty bucks all day.

    Being a minority and having heard stories about my father, aunt, and grandparents spend time in a World War II relocation camp for "Japs" as they were called, even if they were born in the United States, I have to say the racism I have seen in the chef/restaurant community against Hispanics is the worst I can think of since before the Civil War.
     
  2. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    Birmingham, AL
    #2
    Could it be that the role of head chef is more administrative, and as such he has more to do than getting down in the trenches, as it were?

    I really don't see it as all that different from the law firms like you mentioned. Sure, you're going to get the guy with his name on the door if you have to show up in court, but if it's just documents and whatnot, chances are a paralegal or a junior associate is going to be doing the heavy lifting, and the boss signs off on it.
     
  3. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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  4. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816

    DeaconGraves

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    #4
    You didn't see the racism card being played in the last paragraph?

    I keep trying to write a response to this and can't. It's going in way too many directions. All I can say is that I'm flabbergasted that someone feels scammed when they walk into one of a dozen Emeril's located in the country and think that Emeril would actually be there.
     
  5. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #5
    For my brother's birthday a couple years ago, we went to Emeril's restaurant in MS (now closed). Not only did Emeril happen to be there, but when he heard it was someone's birthday, he came out to greet us personally and cooked for us himself. He was also gracious enough to pose for some pictures with the birthday boy.

    Still, the guy whose name is on the door may not be there on any given night, but it's still his recipes and creations.
     
  6. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #6
    In all honesty, I didn't make it that far.
     
  7. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
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    norcal
    #7
    I guess I made a big messed up post. :)

    Basically what I was trying to get at is that "Why so many Hispanic head chefs, but the media/newspapers/weeklys in my area not showing them in the restaurant ads but some non-Hispanic person said to be a chef when aren't?" Are the restaurants here scared to show a chef who may be Mexican? I had a friend who worked as a busboy in his dad's restaurant (and they are white) and when the ad shows the restaurant, they feature the son as the "chef". This pattern is played over and over and it may fool the tourists, but us townies in the small village know better.

    There seems to be an anti-Hispanic sentiment in California, and especially in small towns like where I am from, and I hope we don't enact laws similar to Arizona.

    I hope I wasn't trying to pull out a race card per se, but just how as a minority I see that there is racism in the restaurant community where I live and I find that disturbing.
     
  8. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816

    DeaconGraves

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    #8
    Wait, so let me get this straight. Friend is white. Dad chef is white. Friend is labeled as the chef in the ad. This equals racism?

    I've never been to where you live and so I can't say whether or not there's racism in your kitchens. All I can say is I don't care who cooked my food as long as it's good. :)
     
  9. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #9
    Paul Bocuse was famously asked once: "who is cooking at your restaurant when you aren't there?"
    to which he answered "The same who is cooking when i'm there"
     
  10. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #10
    Executive chefs can cook, they just don't. They direct others.

    Not a tough concept to grasp.
     
  11. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #11
    I agree with that. I don't care who cooks the food as long as it's good.

    There has been a large influx of Hispanic immigrants in my area for about the last 30 years and the largely white area (and the Asians and African-Americans) have been far less than hospitable.

    And to answer the question of the executive chef label, in my small town of 1500 people, but with a few really good restaurants, those sons, daughters, wives, and other relatives who are listed in the ads as head chefs don't cook. They may come over to my house for dinner, or we may play golf or tennis, but it's weird that they get called "chef" when they don't cook. This town is so small we all know each other.

    When somebody is a cop here, all ten of them, they went to police academy. The few lawyers all had to pass the bar. The CPAs here had to pass the CPA exam. Anybody with a college degree had to earn it and take classes. The certified ASA mechanic had to earn that title. It's only these so-called "chef's here, and on Food Network, who get deemed that title is what pisses me off. I have been to almost all the 30 or so restaurants in town and I know many of the people who cook there. There seems to be this deep seated belief that advertising the head chef, if he is an illegal alien, and many are, as something bad for the restaurant. Eventually, most of the illegal aliens at least get a green card or have a child born here and they stay here permanently. At least Rachel Ray makes a stink about this and always lets her listeners know she is not a chef, celebrity chef, or anything with the title "chef" in it. :)

    I would like to post the restaurant guide but I would probably get sued and it's not a great idea in a town that is less than a square mile.
     
  12. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #12
    Having a show on TV isn't the ultimate success story. Those people are usually hired simply because they test well in front of a camera and can prepare food that looks pretty on TV. Experience isn't everything in those cases.

    I wouldn't expect an executive chef to cook anymore than I would expect a police chief to sit in a patrol car and pull over speeders. In most cases, people in these positions have worked their way to get there. (Not to say there isn't some cronyism or politics involved.)
     
  13. 63dot, Jun 17, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011

    63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #13
    Yes, maybe in a middle sized to large city. But in my very small town, I can safely say they don't cook and have not cooked. Did they manage their parents' restaurant busing tables or worked as a host/hostess? Yes. Was it hard work? Sure. But let chefs be people who actually cook.

    At least the chef impossible chef from Food network who cooked for presidents and the royal family (but who actually didn't in a later confession) or the plastic vegetables they have in the background on Food Network sets are more genuine than the "chefs" in my small town. If a head chef is a Mexican guy, why not give him credit? Am I being naive, or could it be the restaurants are scared the INS will come down hard on them? Yeah, like that really happens around here. :rolleyes:

    Some locals have stated that the reason behind keeping the Hispanic chefs a secret is that tourists may be scared of e-coli. What proven connection is there between e-coli and illegal immigrants? Is it something in their bloodstream that is going to infect the food? Some of the comments of the non-Hispanic community towards Hispanics have been downright mean and scary.

    It's pretty much the running joke around here. A similar small town (bigger than ours) voted in a black lab for mayor as the few interested parties already served their terms and wanted nothing to do with being mayor. A name had to be put in the mayor spot so at least the pet wouldn't back out.
     
  14. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #14
    You wanna know who's in the kitchen? Read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
     

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