By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director
The kitchen can also be an incredibly stressful place to work and requires a certain personality for survival. One of my favorite aphorisms from Fernand Point's Ma Gastronomie says a cook should "never dirty his apron outside of the kitchen." I've always interpreted this as, “Be cool, don't talk smack and remember that your reputation precedes you both in the kitchen and outside of it.” The way we carry ourselves at work—how we deal with the stress, long hours and other people—reflects upon our character and ultimately dictates that reputation.
Of course, this process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As cooks—and, in particular, as sous or executive chefs—we are constantly forced to process problems, mistakes and the many special requests that inevitably occur. I'm all for keeping the rules, the standards and the intensity that animate professional kitchens, but I’m less impressed with the bravado and barking that often comes along with it. Over the years, the futility of such a display has become all the more evident to me. If anything, I simply find it a huge waste of energy, interfering with the sense of economy I like to apply in the kitchen. Fear, humiliation and guilt are not the best motivational tools for young cooks.
Read on for more of Michael's thoughts on styles of leadership in the kitchen.