I’ll admit, I used to think that owning your own restaurant would be the most amazing experience. Getting to design menus and create a dining experience seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. Then I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, which immediately made me think twice. I love books that go behind the scenes and Bourdain did not disappoint. He provides a detailed account of the messy and chaotic environment of the kitchen and his own experiences with different restaurants. He also provides some interesting and useful information such as, when not to order seafood (Never on a Monday, as it’s normally left over from the weekend), and never to order your meat well done.
One of the ironies is, that in this book Bourdain looks down “celebrity chef” culture, but in recent years, has become a the same kind of celebrity chef that he so despises in his writing. I don’t really consider him a sell-out though. He’s a talented chef and a great writer, so gaining that celebrity status should not come as a huge shock.
But basically, don’t open a restaurant.
“Hell is Other People,” especially for a waiter. Dublanica reiterates Jean-Paul Satre’s famous words in this blog-come-book, which details his experience waiting at a high-end restaurant. Nothing in this book really shocked me, and I like the conversational tone that Dublanica writes in. He’s funny with the perfect amount of self-deprecation acknowledging that he is guilty of being a terrible manager on more than one occasion. After reading this book however, I do think that I have an ounce more respect for waiters. While I am a solid tipper and have never made a scene in a restaurant, I have been upset when a waiter’s attitude wasn’t great. Steve Dublanica peppers his book with scientific data regarding surveys done on waiters, which often find that the mentally unstable are often attracted to waiting tables. While unsure shy, Dublanica attests to this by describing people he’s worked with as chronically depressed, or addicted to various substances. According to Dublanica, waiters have a hard time holding their life together outside of the workplace, and sometimes the cracks start to show at work. I’ll probably think twice now before simply passing off that waitress as a bitch.
This book basically furthers my theory that if every person were forced to work in customer service for at least one year, the world would be a better place. While I wasn’t a waitress, I did work in customer service as a ticket taker in a stadium for a summer trying to make extra cash. The venue I worked at had a strict no re-entry policy, and designated smoking area. The ticket takers were in charge of enforcing this policy, and therefore it was often a group of 20-somethings that bore the full brunt of corporate nicotine-craving rage. I now have an understanding of how much it sucks to have deal with other people in that position, and I generally treat those in the service industry with the respect I would have wanted to be treated with. If everyone worked in customer service, maybe we’d all be a bit more respectful.