Monday, February 8, 2010

Things They Don't Teach You at the CIA

While filing my taxes this morning (Fun!), I was looking through that big envelope of "important stuff" that I keep in my desk drawer. You know, we all have one of those envelopes or file cabinets of old tax returns, doctors stuff, college transcripts, passport, politically incorrect and very offensive handmade cards from your best friend... I found something I wrote while I was the executive chef at a gorgeous little boutique hotel in Telluride, Colorado. I was fresh out of culinary school when I wrote this (well, it had been a year... I was stale out of school?) and after working my first important job in the food industry, learned a whole lot to say the least.

Things They Don't Teach You at the Culinary Institute of America

1. You can never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the best employee is tattooed, pierced, and looks all together tore up. Its the most innocent looking ones that turn out to be the crackheads. (Yeah, you'd just assume that when they go out for a "smoke break," its for a cigarette, but you could be wrong.)

2. Be kind to your maintenance man. He will save your ass when your freezer breaks down in the middle of a holiday weekend.

3. Learn how to fix your major appliances: dishwashers and refrigerators especially! This saves oodles of money and stress because, again, they will always break down in the middle of a holiday weekend.

4. If you're looking to hire someone who's detail oriented, don't hire someone with typos on their resume.

5. Write ups and documenting your employees may seem to be a stupid concept and very annoying, but its so helpful when firing some one's snotty, insubordinate ass.

6. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Especially on a resume.

7. Always lead by example.

8. Don't get drunk with your employees.

9. If you have to work extra hours instead of hiring half-assed help, just deal with it. Its better to get things done right than sit around on your day off, worrying about what's going on at work.

10. Get a good night's sleep before a busy day. If you're out partying the night before and come to work with a hangover, you may feel like shit but trust me... you look worse than you feel. And everyone else has to look at you. Cut them a break already.

11. Drug tests are crap. Some employees are just more pleasant to be around when they're stoned.

12. When you're the new boss, start out as a Nazi and slowly work your way into being the nice guy. If you do this inversely, you won't get taken seriously when its time to be a Nazi.

13. Work every position or station in your kitchen. This gives you a good idea of how long it should take to finish every task. Then you've got a better picture of your labor costs and who's not cutting it.

14. Keep your kitchen spotless. A good health inspection will give you just as much pride as putting out a good plate.

15. Be kind to your vendors, reps, and neighbors. What you put out will certainly come back to you.

16. That smell? Its the grease trap. Make sure it is maintained regularly so that it doesn't overflow during the middle of a holiday weekend, when everything else will break down. And be nice to the grease trap cleaning guy. His job sucks.

17. Don't hire someone just because they're cute, no matter how sexually frustrated you are, or how tight their ass is.

18. Bribes are and will probably always be effective for getting what you want.

19. Leave work at work. No one wants to hear you complain about your day over cocktails.

20. You will never use 95% of what you learn at the CIA.


Erin McGuire said...

Art and cooking are pretty similar. Awesome post :)

Anonymous said...


dawn said...

the most important thing i learned at the c.i.a. was to not fall out of the back of my own convertible.

Tricia Reisch said...

That's a pretty expensive and indirect lesson to learn...