Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Knife Bag 5. OUI CHEF!!!!!!

You know the part in Pulp Fiction where Sam Jackson flips his wallet out onto the table and it says Bad Ass Motherfucker?

Ludo Lefebvre is that wallet.

Look him up online. Don't let the white teeth fool you. This is a man who runs marathons after training a few days, who comes to work after back surgery instead of nodding off on Vicodin like the rest of us weenies would.  He is polite, unassuming. He is a machine.

There are so many parts to being a chef. Cooking is only the first. You are the coach, the mommy and the shrink. You need to recognize different personalities and get each cook to want to be better with each plate of food they put out. You never want your team to be counting the minutes until they can leave. This isn't Subway. People can tell how much love got put into their food and that is a direct reflection of the team and it's leader. Ludo is exceptional. It is stunning to see someone who gets subtitles when he's on TV explain himself better than any chef I've ever worked with. EVER.
Lots of chefs get the cooking part, but cannot tell you how to do something. When you think you have finally figured out what they want, they come over and tell you how stupid you are.

(What normal person picks a job where people get to scream "RETARD" at you while you burn yourself, btw? There is such an S&M angle to cooking. I wonder what Freud would say)

Anyhoo, Ludo is genuinely warm as he greets me.

He hands me a shirt and apron, smiles with his very white teeth, and.........

tells me I'll be working hot apps & dessert with Chef Dan. R'uh r'oh.

The Twitter has led me to blogs and the blogs have led me to stories about failed souffles.  No one has apparently mastered these little fuckers yet, but there have been many stern looks of disapproval and the inevitable banishment to ice cream land. 

Lead me to the guillotine, sir.

It's like the first quarter of cooking school where you have to get past the crabby instructor before they let you cut more than onions and carrots.  It must be very challenging to have so many people with different skill levels knocking flour everywhere and forgetting things in the mixer.

The other interns are AMAZE-O. Where they lack experience, they make up for in stamina as they are pulling 50 hour weeks, gratis, just to get to work with him.  That's the power of the LudoBite.

After a five year-absence I feel like the red-cloggers on Top Chef. You've seen them. The 40 year-olds who represent for the catering witches everywhere. We're not untalented, just a bit slower. We don't have the energy we did when we were 25. We have had dead babies and breast cancers, sick parents and mortgage crises. We want to cook to save ourselves and the world from ow-ies and mean people.

So I'm slower, but I'm also different than I was before in a kitchen. I am VERY sensitive as most of you know and I used to go home crying sometimes after a behind-the-line ass-chewing.

Not anymore. When told to "inspect and reflect" my buttered souffle molds in a tone that might be construed as condescending, I just said Okay, and did them again.  I thought about Evan and how glad I would be to see him in four hours.

Wrap first night.  No disasters. I remember to say 'behind' and 'corner'.  No plates are dropped.

I am on cloud 9 as I exit through the dining room, softly lit like a cathedral where octopus and pork belly are worshipped instead of the Mother. I am back in my element, I can't wait to collapse into the Subaru and get home.

I turn the corner and reach my car................

Which is all alone. In a pitch-black lot. With no valet in sight.

next up-Are You Effing Kidding Me?