F&W Free Preview All You Coastal Living Cooking Light Food and Wine tab Health myRecipes Southern Living Sunset
My F&W
quick save (...)
Chef Sketchbook

3 Kitchen Commandments from Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Commandments

Art © Anthony Bourdain/Photo © Ben Alsop

Anthony Bourdain names the three sacred chef rules every serious cook should know.

On Lists
I’m a big believer in lists, which focus the mind and serve as a reference point. When I worked in restaurant kitchens, the very first thing in the morning, I’d write the day’s prep lists, go through the refrigerators and see what I had and what needed to be used quickly, and take stock of what was missing. I’m also a strong believer in forward motion. A less-than-great decision is better than no decision or endless dithering. Improvise, adapt, go forward. And remember that credit and blame accrue to the chef in equal proportion. If your subordinates fail, it’s your failure. To blame others is loathsome. That itself is failure.

On Punctuality
I devoted an entire chapter of Kitchen Confidential to my old mentor, Bigfoot, whom I described as “a bully, a yenta, a sadist and a mensch…the most stand-up guy I ever worked for.” Bigfoot had a rule: Arrive 15 minutes early for your shift. The first time I was 14 minutes early, I was advised that the next time it happened, I’d be sent home and lose the shift. And the next time after that, I’d be fired. I was never late again for any job, and I instituted the same policy in my kitchens. To this day, I’m pathologically early to every engagement—business or social. Arrival time is an expression of respect; it reveals character and discipline. Technical skills you can learn; character you either have or you don’t.

On Knives
Knife skills are the first thing you learn in a kitchen. Whenever I saw cooks muscling a red pepper with a dull blade, I’d put them on knife-heavy prep, doing basic cuts again and again and again until they got it right. Most of the really gruesome wounds I witnessed on the job (or wrapped up before rushing a bleeding cook to the ER) came from rotary slicers or can edges—not knives. I made sure my cooks had a good chef’s knife, a flexible fillet knife for fish, an offset serrated knife and a paring knife. Some butchering hotshots also had the super-skinny remnants of a knife they’d ground down to a thin jailhouse shank and were using to scrape meat off the bone.

Related: Anthony Bourdain Illustrates His Grilling Obsessions
Anthony Bourdain's Travel Sketch Pad
Anthony Bourdain Revisits His 2004 Les Halles Cookbook

You Might Also Like powered by sheknows

Comments

Add A Comment

    Add a Comment

    See our terms
    You must be logged in to comment. or
    advertisement
    The Dish
    Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
    The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
    F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
    American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
    How we use your email address
    advertisement
    Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

    Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.