Why — and How — to Use Heritage Breeds in Your Kitchen

Why  — and How — to Use Heritage Breeds in Your Kitchen

Heritage breed livestock returns us to a time before agriculture became industrial. How can you best learn about heritage breed to enhance your kitchen? And what exactly does "heritage breed" mean? 

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What a Farmer Can Teach a Chef

What a Farmer Can Teach a Chef

The Conundrum

I was working at a large resort a few years ago, killing the prep list for our New Year’s celebration. Running up to the last several hours before execution, I found myself in front of a six-foot griddle getting ready to sear off two thousand U10 scallops. As I started popping the lids off of the containers, I was amazed at how beautifully uniform every single one was. I set myself to the task at hand as my mind began to wander, imagining what it must have taken to have harvested and sorted all of the scallops. Had it been a labor of love or just another shipment to get out?

Earlier in the morning, as I walked into the prep kitchen to rally the crew, I was taken aback at the pallets and hand trucks stacked with the product for the event. When one is prepping for a thousand people, it doesn’t leave much room for reflection, yet I wondered — more than once that day — where had all of this stuff come from? Had factory farms and ranches been involved or did some product represent smaller operations? How much had come from our partners in the adjacent valley or did it even matter? My thoughts at that moment were more practical than romantic; there were mouths to feed, after all, and purveyors to thank.

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Are Millennials Changing Culinary Culture for the Better?

Are Millennials Changing Culinary Culture for the Better?

After 10 years in this industry, there was a part of me that was proud to realize that I had become hard as coffin nails. I was as the industry had made me.

I had also become quick: quick witted, nimble in close quarters, and fleet of foot. I could think my way out of any problem and figure out a workaround to any surprise.

I had earned my bones.

I had also closed down my heart and flushed compassion down the toilet. Both had become liabilities to successfully accomplishing the mission. If someone’s issue or problem didn’t directly affect the objective, it had no place in my kitchen or in my mind. I needed to be focused, anything else — sick kids, the death of a loved one, or someone else’s addiction — didn’t matter to me. It wasn’t a complete day until someone cried, and it would never, ever be me.

Working backwards against the clock had become a finely-honed skill. Anything that negatively influenced that timeline had to be discarded, ignored, or forgotten.

Twenty years on, despite a stainless steel heart, late at night, the “hour of doubt” would come upon me. Trying to medicate my adrenaline high, I would sometimes consider the Faustian bargain I had made for my culinary success. I was okay giving up being a regular “citizen” for the life of a culinary pirate. I was a “kitchen dawg,” but was compassion, consideration, or empathy an equitable price to be paid for the intense, instant gratification of the ‘grind’?

It had to be, right?

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Compassion in the Kitchen: Why Culinary Culture Must Change

Compassion in the Kitchen: Why Culinary Culture Must Change

By Adam M Lamb, Foodable Industry Expert

While Anthony Bourdain has gone on record arguing for the rightness, the necessity of hazing in his book “Kitchen Confidential,” the crueler and harshest antics used in some kitchens no longer have a place in modern culinary professionalism. We need to attract more prospective employees, not scare them off into other industries because of the established Culinary Bro Code. There are already enough reasons to choose from to do something else for a living.

Women have not had an easy time integrating into the hyper-masculine world of the professional culinary kitchen. Ask any woman working in the business today and she’ll relate as many horror stories as you have time, or the stomach, to listen to about coming up in our current culinary career culture. A recent Thrillist article recounted such tales, such as one from an anonymous sous chef who remembered a chef who grabbed girls by their hair buns and yanked their heads back, and who attached a carrot at the end of her station and called her “The Little Donkey.”

Along with this type of abuse is the disturbing fact that still, in 2016, along with unequal professional recognition, women are paid less than men for similar work. According to Glassdoor, female chefs make 28.3 percent less in base pay than their male colleagues. That's the second-highest "adjusted" percentage among the careers included in the study.

I learned early, the value of female co-workers. In my very first Executive Chef position, I was paired up with a woman as my sous chef. Lori Walker was an amazing assistant for me and helped me get my feet under me as a first-time chef. Thanks mostly to her partnership, I wouldn’t have lasted a month.

She, and many other women that I have had the pleasure to work with, have been the hardest working culinarians on staff — coming in on their days off, even when sick, and they were the hardest-working people in the room, primarily because they had to be. They could not be seen as weak, needy, or quick to tire. The “bros” in the room were waiting in the wings, ready to shame them right out of their whites. The Culinary Bro Code demanded it of them, or they would quickly be, outside looking in. Such was the price many of these women paid.

One might argue that as bad as all this may sound, it has improved, and one might be right. Just not fast enough, by this writer’s estimation

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