Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, welcoming foodies to discuss the dining scenes in Israel and abroad, along with all things related to kosher food.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Bill Spohn » Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:19 pm

ChefJCarey wrote:Over 90% of those designated, by this publication or that, to critique restaurants are unqualified to do so.


Oh, definitely. There is no one set of criteria for what qualifies a restaurant critic except an appetite, a credit card from his employer and the ability to type legibly and think more or less coherently, the small failures being easily remedied in editorial.

Similarly, there is no specific established standard for who is qualified to be a wine critic. Anyone with a palate and a computer can and does speak up. Some try to make it their life's work; fewer succeed.

I think you have to take each one on their own merits and watch for things that indicate that they are needlessly trashing some place just to have something to print (seen this done) or serving their own agenda (cute waitress wouldn't date them - seen that as well).

From a restaurateur's viewpoint, a great critic is anyone that gives his restaurant a favourable review, of course....
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:44 pm

Unless I was speaking is some kind of arcane glossolalia that I myself didn't understand I fail to see where I displayed contempt. Look around physician.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:00 pm

Daniel, you know what would be very interesting to me? I would love to hear a "chef's" job description detailed here by sophisticated diners. You know, what they think a chef does with the hours of his day and what his responsibilities are. And, no, I didn't stick any "hers" in there although there are many terrific women chefs. No oversight intended.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:07 pm

Chef.....

I'll do a swap with you. You describe for me the critic's job description ....."you know, what you think a critic does with the hours of his day and what his responsibilities are" and then I'll go on to give my description of the chef's job description.

Perhaps we should both also respond to whether the sophisticated diner or equallly sophisticated reader has the need to know precisely what you or I do with the hours of our days? And of course, conments (regardless of whether they know or care about our job descriptions) of what we think are their expectations of us.

Fair trade?

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Rogov

P.S. Shortly after 1 a.m. here and for the moment at least, to the devil with my job description and responsibilities. It is time for sleep. See you anon.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:14 pm

That would be an eminently fair trade, Daniel. But, I haven't seen a "reality" show that describes a critic's day. :)
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Stuart Yaniger » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:09 pm

I would love to hear a "chef's" job description detailed here by sophisticated diners.


May I take a whack at that?

A chef (in my mind) designs the menu, chooses the purveyors, manages the ordering and inventory, manages quality control, runs HR, is the "face" of the restaurant to the public, and watches cash flow and cost of goods. Probably ten more things I missed. I'm assuming a decent-size operation rather than a small one where the chef is also the sous chef and a line cook.

This is why I'm a cook and not a chef. Being a chef is too much like work.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:15 am

That's actually pretty good,Stuart. I'll fill in a little in the AM when I have more energy.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:38 am

ChefJCarey wrote:That would be an eminently fair trade, Daniel. But, I haven't seen a "reality" show that describes a critic's day.



Chef....

Ah, but that's a too-easy way out. May I suggest that we rely not on "reality shows" but simply on reality. After all, as you would hope that critics are familiar with the functions and responsibilities of the chef, so are the critics entitled to hope that you would have a similar working kowledge about their roles in life.

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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:55 am

Stuart Yaniger wrote:
I would love to hear a "chef's" job description detailed here by sophisticated diners.


May I take a whack at that?

A chef (in my mind) designs the menu, chooses the purveyors, manages the ordering and inventory, manages quality control, runs HR, is the "face" of the restaurant to the public, and watches cash flow and cost of goods. Probably ten more things I missed. I'm assuming a decent-size operation rather than a small one where the chef is also the sous chef and a line cook.

This is why I'm a cook and not a chef. Being a chef is too much like work.


Yep, it is.

Here's a little piece I wrote for something else:

Unless one is working in a tightly structured, corporate environment the executive chef usually does not have a job description or task outlines. He/she is expected to know what to do and how to do it. Here are a few of the job expectations:

Devise a menu and recipes, procedures and presentations for all menu items. Acquire reliable purveyors. Hire and train all cooks. Provide job descriptions and task outlines for the cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers etc. Schedule all kitchen personnel with a minimum of overtime. Order all meat, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy and grocery items necessary to execute the menu. Price the menu at a specified food cost. (Check in all these items against invoices – ensuring price and quantities are correct). Control labor cost and food cost within specified guidelines. Inventory.

Make sauces. Butcher meats and fillet fish. Provide a soup of the day and daily specials.
Make sure the dining room personnel understand the menu and specials and can talk about it and them knowingly. Oversee the cooking line during service. Step in to assist or relieve at a station if necessary. Perhaps, work one of the stations. Provide pars and par sheets for the cooking line. Keep an abstract of items sold and/or wasted. Ensure the kitchen, to include all refrigeration, is maintained in a clean and sanitary manner.Meet with health inspectors. Expedite (the expediter is the coordinator between the kitchen and the dining room). Ensure very few items are “86’d” but at the same time there is very little waste. Schmooze in the dining room if time permits.

Put out only the best and freshest product possible given the raw materials, circumstances and personnel at one's disposal.

Additionally, one is expected to be creative and innovative, not to mention, affable (American chefs only). And maybe even – gasp – attend management meetings. The above would be minimum expectations if one were working for someone else. If one has one’s own business the list grows. Does it ever.

Last edited by ChefJCarey on Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:46 am

Daniel Rogov wrote:Chef.....

I'll do a swap with you. You describe for me the critic's job description ....."you know, what you think a critic does with the hours of his day and what his responsibilities are" and then I'll go on to give my description of the chef's job description.

Perhaps we should both also respond to whether the sophisticated diner or equallly sophisticated reader has the need to know precisely what you or I do with the hours of our days? And of course, conments (regardless of whether they know or care about our job descriptions) of what we think are their expectations of us.

Fair trade?

Best
Rogov

P.S. Shortly after 1 a.m. here and for the moment at least, to the devil with my job description and responsibilities. It is time for sleep. See you anon.


Okay, Daniel…

A Day in the Life of a Restaurant Critic

Mr. Rogov arises at…well, hell…he gets up whenever he wants to. His valet brings him two eggs, soft-boiled exactly three minutes and served in matching silver egg cups. His toast points have the crust trimmed off. The valet then carefully removes the tops of the eggs with the antique silver egg-cutter. Mr. Rogov stirs while the valet lays out his tailored Italian suit and draws his bath.

After breakfast, Mr. Rogov then takes his private elevator down to the pool where he is attended by numerous scantily clad nymphs who cater to his every whim. He smokes two Cuban cigars that he lights with crisp hundred dollar bills.

He shortly tires of the naiad's devotion and calls for his secretary - who schedules the nightly culinary events – to join him poolside. They plan the evening's work. That three minutes done with he returns to his palatial penthouse where the valet dresses him.

The luncheon with royalty from a half dozen European nations is tiresome to him.

He returns to his penthouse for the 3:00 PM appointment with his masseuse. After his scrub down by the three female Japanese bath attendants, he has a brief sauna and a four-hour nap.

His manicurist and barber arrive. Ablutions complete the valet dresses him once again.

His driver pulls up his Rolls Silver Ghost at precisely 8:00 PM.

After a leisurely four-hour meal at his private table at El Bulli he grows weary from the day's exertions. Several eunuchs carry his lectica to the Rolls.

Just before dozing off he dictates the review to his man who will have it neatly typed and ready for him in the morning.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:31 am

Chef......

Cute. But like the good queen before me, I am not amused. Indeed parody sometimes has its place. Unfortunately, I thought we had opened a serious discussion. It seems that you have opted with the "cheap way out". Therefore and concluding the discussion, as you have chosen not to respond seriously to my job description, neither shall I to yours.

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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:46 am

That's fine, Daniel, I nearly always prefer humor to serious discussion. And, yeah, it is inexpensive. But, it's why I get up in the morning - most mornings.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:49 pm

Chef, Hello....

We are different types, you and I. I appreciate humor enormously (Woody Allen for example is one of my few heroes) but when it comes to discussion, I tend to lean towards the serious side. I suppose I'm rather old fashioned as well, for when I greet ambassadors is is generally by with "your excellence" and when I meet chefs it is also with their title (in this case being of course "chef").

As to the superciliousness to which you sometimes fall, I have always liked the definition that incorporates the concept of "having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy". i have yet to find a person whom I judge as "unworthy". You????

I would suggest of course that the moment we find our clients unworthy (in your case those who dine with you, in my case those who read me), we shall be among the justifiably unwanted and unemployed.

An entirely hypothetical set of implied questions of course. No need to respond unless you feel a specific need.

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Rogov
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:01 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Chef, Hello....

We are different types, you and I. I appreciate humor enormously (Woody Allen for example is one of my few heroes) but when it comes to discussion, I tend to lean towards the serious side. I suppose I'm rather old fashioned as well, for when I greet ambassadors is is generally by with "your excellence" and when I meet chefs it is also with their title (in this case being of course "chef").

As to the superciliousness to which you sometimes fall, I have always liked the definition that incorporates the concept of "having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy". i have yet to find a person whom I judge as "unworthy". You????

I would suggest of course that the moment we find our clients unworthy (in your case those who dine with you, in my case those who read me), we shall be among the justifiably unwanted and unemployed.

An entirely hypothetical set of implied questions of course. No need to respond unless you feel a specific need.

Best,
Rogov



Daniel,

I do respect you and what you do.

I once tried to do it and wasn't worth a damn at it. For a couple of years I had a regular twice-weekly local television gig where I visited restaurants and ostensibly critiqued them. I would talk with the chef, stand with him while he prepared a dish and then sit and consume the dish.

Well, I never critiqued anyone. I spent too many years sweating in the trenches beside every kind of person and doing every job in the professional kitchen to be able to criticize those who were so working hard to put out a good product and facing all the same problems I had. All my visits ended up looking like advertisements.

As to ambassadors, well, I'm certainly no expert there. I've only cooked for the Irish and Australian ambassadors to the United States. Oh, yeah, and El-Reedy, the Egyptian ambassador. I feel more at home hanging with the kids in the professional kitchen and, for the most part, I speak their language. I'd rather be out back in the dumpster area smoking a cigarette with them than sitting at a table with an ambassador.

I really don't think I'm supercilious. I'll cop to the silly part. Yep, I can certainly be that.

As I said earlier in this thread, this is an area where I cannot be objective. While my corporeal being is no longer there, my heart and head are still sweating with the cooks in the kitchen.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:58 am

Chef, Hi.....

Fair enough. Pax Nobiscum.

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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by ChefJCarey » Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:08 am

Daniel Rogov wrote:Chef, Hi.....

Fair enough. Pax Nobiscum.

Best
Rogov


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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Ryan M » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:23 am

Hope this doesn't seem blasphemous, but if there can be said to be a particular dish that I order for the sake of seeing how its been done, it is Tiramisu. And the quality of the Tiramisu affects my opinion of a restaurant in a way that other things don't - it's easy to put it on the menu, but only a truly good restaurant can do it well, and the lesser restaurants tend to produce mediocre versions.

And then there's coffee - I can never have an unstained opinion of a restaurant that doesn't have good coffee, but its also something that I'm willing to let slide if everything else was good.
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Re: Culinary Poll # 24: Measuring the Quality of a Restaurant

by Matilda L » Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:51 pm

I'm always cheered when a place doesn't rely on 'one size fits all' vegetables. You know the sort of thing: when no matter what dish you order, the veg will be a bowl of steamed or blanched broccoli, carrot, beans and/or snow peas, and maybe a chunk of sweet corn. I can understand why some places make this a policy; in pub dining rooms I am happy to accept this as the status quo. But a restaurant signals its vision of itself in the way it treats things that accompany the main item in the meal. Whether it serves veg in this way is less about whether the place "gets it right" than what it is intending to do in the way it presents its meals.
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