It’s A Bad Week To Be A Reality Chef And A Critic

Pepinby Steven Doyle

This might be a bad week to be a chef, or a chef’s critic, depending on which side of the kitchen stadium you are sitting.  The week began with a column penned by Jacques Pepin where he took a major chunk of reality chefs to task. Although not mentioned directly, much of the hullabaloo seemingly took Gordon Ramsay, king of the F-Bomb, to task.

The information that Pepin laid out was lined with a heart-felt indignation over the fact that on these programs chefs demoralize their staff, something that is hardly done in reality. Pepin went on to say in his article, “For the good of his or her restaurant, the chef should be a role model, an educator who probes and advises his cooks”.   

Pepin added, “The cruel rivalry and conflict depicted in Hell’s Kitchen may be good for ratings, but it is unjust to dedicated cooks and unfair to the trade. In my opinion, nothing good enough to eat can be concocted under such conditions”.

Extreme Chef - Tesar

Today  we see another side of the drama when chef John Tesar lashed out at Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner for what he perceived as a misguided review of his new steakhouse restaurant, Knife. Eater Dallas has a blow-by-blow view of what transpired beginning very early this morning. But it all culminated with Tesar banning Brenner from any of his restaurants.

I tend to agree with Tesar that Brenner sides on the pedantic, and her personal take over-shadows her understanding of what a particular dish should be rather than accepting what is presented by the chef. When a food critic publicly confuses Frito pie for a bad batch of nachos, or is allegedly caught plagiarizing a BBQ list (see: BBQ-Gate), we all need to shake our heads a bit and question our reading list.

On a happier note, which we are much more accustomed to on craveDFW, Chef Pepin sends a note explaining his rant on Daily Meal. Read in its entirety.

Many of you may have seen my article in the Daily Meal. It was certainly not my intention to insult Gordon Ramsay, who in my opinion is a very good, professionally trained chef, or anyone else for that matter. And I understand well the demands that television has put on him and others like him to create excitement.

For me, the point is that the world of the truly professional chef is a controlled, disciplined and respectful environment. Aspiring young chefs who consider entering the culinary trade get a false impression from these programs which are for entertainment.The only real reason to become a chef is because it fulfills you, and makes you happy to please people through your food. If you are dedicated and work hard with integrity and commitment, and if a little luck is on your side, it may happen that you gain some notoriety for your efforts. However, much more likely is that you won’t. But, if you enter the trade for the right reasons, you will still have a happy and fulfilling life. -Jacques Pepin

Truer words have never been written. Everyone go out and grab a great meal tonight.


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