Professional Status

In my post about my great trip to Washington, DC with my son over Memorial Day weekend, I was a bit surprised to see a couple of fairly snarky comments posted. I believe the comments were directed toward me from something I wrote in my “review” of The Mint, where I said, “The chef appeared to have a pedigree of having worked at a couple of Rocky Top Hospitality establishments, which might be a fine job, but it’s not something to base your resume on.”

Obviously, I offended one reader in particular, who posted the following: “Very nice post. Lucky for your son you don’t have an embarrassing job like Rocky Top chef.”

A week later, he posted this: “Imagine how they spend their weekends….actually I can’t say anymore sarcastically…just wish you would apologize for your rude comment, or at least comment further.”

I obviously struck a nerve with this individual, and I didn’t realize why until this morning: he thought I was saying that a chef who worked at Rocky Top had a demeaning job. And you know what? I may be guilty as charged.

I certainly had no intention of offending anyone. I really try to be nice on this blog (even to Greg Cox most of the time)! However, in trying to make a point, I screwed up.

I was only trying to say that even though a chef at Rocky Top might be a fine job, it’s not one that makes me think of “creative chef.” Rocky Top is a successful restaurant group, but it’s not one known for innovative cuisine. It’s a pretty corporate group. In saying that, I did not intend to demean anyone who works there. But I probably did, and for that, I apologize.

We all make a living, whether it’s as a chef, a lawyer, a bricklayer or an engineer. How one makes a living makes one no better than another, however, there will always be a perceived hierarchy within each job type. The lawyer who works at the big firm will typically be thought of with higher regard in the bar than the sole practitioner. Not always, but usually.

The chef heading up a Michelin-starred restaurant will garner more accolades and attention than the line cook at Denny’s. It doesn’t mean that the Michelin chef is a better person than the line cook, but it certainly comes off as being a bigger accomplishment.

Similarly, someone who graduates from the Culinary Institute of America is going to be looked at as having been better trained than someone who completed the culinary program at Wake Tech.

In each of these cases, it does not mean that one person is better at their job than the other. It gives them the benefit of the doubt, but that’s it. Most importantly, it does not mean that being the classically trained chef makes him or her a better PERSON than the Wake Tech grad.

And so, dear readers, I truly meant no harm in my statement that working as a Rocky Top chef is nothing on which to base a resume. I apologize to all the Rocky Top chefs who put in the long hours, serving delicious food to the folks of Raleigh. Thanks for understanding.

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7 Responses to Professional Status

  1. Dana says:

    I honestly cannot figure out how Rocky Top is making it. We like the $5 menu at Hi-Five, and I’ve had a good, but incredibly loud meal at Red Room. The other places were just insanely boring and not cheap. Why would I go to Michael Deans when, for the same price, I can go to Bloomsbury Bistro?

  2. “It doesn’t mean that the Michelin chef is a better person than the line cook”

    It DOES mean, however, that the Michelin chef is most likely more skilled than the line cook. It’s no offense, since I LOVE Denny’s and IHOP. Heck I even worked at IHOP for 4 years.

    My husband actually worked at Michael Dean’s and we went to all of the Rocky Top restaurants (since he had a discount). Though the food was ‘fine’, I was APPALLED at what we got for what we spent at Michael Dean’s. (Having eaten there before he started working there.) It was bland, flavorless food and I was sick that I had wasted our money there ($100 for a celebratory evening).

    I did enjoy Bogart’s quite a bit but I think the opinion stands: Rocky Top Restaurants are not ‘high’ quality. They are medium to medium high quality with, in the case of Michael Dean’s, disproportionately high prices.

    They knew it, which is – I think – the reason they developed 1705 Prime. I haven’t had the courage to go there yet because I can’t stand the thought of making another $100 mistake where they are concerned. We are not wealthy and our money is precious.

  3. So sad Dad that you continue to put your foot into it ,although you are trying disparately to apologize to whomever it was that you had offended.
    Here’s a tip- keep everything in context.
    The line cook who puts 100% of their energy, creativity and love(the magic ingredient) in to a grilled cheese is equally as gifted a Michelin chef who puts out a $250 plate; in context.
    It could well be argued that the grill cheese with love is often a LOT better than the pretentious 250 plate that comes with all the stress of the entire kitchen as a side order and not a speck of love anywhere to be found.
    Cooking is an art, there are all kinds of art. All to be appreciated in context.
    If you categorize/critique food according to technical merit alone- you’re likely to stay mighty hungry!

  4. Fuzzy says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with myperspective on the post above.

    I grew up in Fuquay when it was Fuquay Springs, and the Grill cheese sandwich at Elliot’s Pharmacy in old downtown is *exactly* the same as it was over 40 years ago. And I love it. And it is one of the most comforting of the comfort foods I know.

    So I understand about grilled cheeses and love and context.

    What I disagree with boils down to 2 things:

    a) the snarky holier-than-thou condescending attitude to Varmint.
    b) the despicable assumption that Art is all relative, that there are no absolutes, that you can’t or shouldn’t judge Art on technical merit, the underlying subtext that making judgments at all is offensive and that anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone elses.

    BA-LONE-Y

    Myperspective’s comments are out of line, taking shots at successful people in a much more offensive manner than he/she/it implied that Varmint does. The michelin chef is probably a michelin chef and no longer a line cook *because* he cares about what he does. I haven’t read a post by anyone here that judged food by technical merit alone, another brash and wrong assumption.

    Listen Varmint. Getting trolled by trolls is just part of the scene when you post on the internet.

    I understood what you meant the first time you said it. I thought it was awfully nice of you to try to clarify, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness and self-examination as represented by your above post, but the trolls just want attention.

    Even though I violated the moral of the story just now, I did it because I want to reassure you that you’re doing fine, keep up the good work. Oh, the moral?

    MORAL — Don’t feed the trolls.

  5. Lurker says:

    Varmint didn’t say anything that isn’t based in reality of how the world actually works. If you’re offended by it, I can only think that you went to school during the “everyone must have high self esteem so we’re all the same” (which is complete BS) period of public education or something instead of the more reality based periods of competition and gaining a competitive advantage so that you could rise up in the world.

    Do you not think that at least some of the Rocky Top chefs aspire to become Michelin chefs? Granted, as you rise up in the “food chain,” the opportunities become fewer which is somewhat the point – you have to be good at what you do to reach the upper eschelons.

    JMO.

  6. Rafe says:

    I think his point is that absent first hand knowledge of a person’s capabilities, you must draw inferences based on what you know about them. If you’re trying to figure out if someone’s a good chef, you look at where they’ve worked in the past. Not rocket science or controversial.

    If I get two resumes from programmers, and one has been working at Google for five years and the other has been working for the state government, I’m probably going to guess that the one from Google is more skilled. There’s certainly a fair chance that the guess is wrong (that’s why you interview people), but you have to start somewhere.

    The fact that someone pretends not to understand this dynamic strikes me as disingenuous.

  7. Or that they’re a tad ‘tetchy about it. Maybe it struck a little close to home?

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