Of course I could find a picture of a butter sculpture of Darth Vader on the internet...
I've been writing with hope and a bit of despair about the current state of restaurant kitchens recently. I do believe that change is a constant- always slower or faster and a bit more painful than we'd like. A few weeks ago I stumbled on what I think is a well-written piece about kitchen culture from a surprising (to me) source.
David Chang wrote this for his magazine Lucky Peach in response to a brief bit of writing Rene Redzepi wrote about hisfantasies of a happier kitchen. There is a Star Wars analogy. There is a bit of cursing. And there is also a transformation that really got my attention. I lived in New York during Chang's meteoric rise, we lived a half a block from the original Momofuku and enjoyed the exciting food produced in his kitchen- including a handful of vegetable dishes that absolutley blew my then vegetarian mind.
Although the food had incredible appeal, David Chang- at least from the outside- looked like the embodiment of everything that made me think I'd never work in a restaurant kitchen. BIG ego, headstrong and impetuous, and a live and die by the knife attitude. To be fair, I've never met him so I can't say any of those presumptions are absolutely true but based on his writing about his own shift in perspective about running his kitchens I don't think I was totally off base.
Neither of these chefs really seem like they have to change anything about how they're operating- their kitchens are famous and likely to continue to attract young talent because of their reputations. This is why I find their thoughts and words about the need for change so heartening. It's also refreshing to hear leaders admit that they don't have the answers but that they're interested in finding a new way forward.
Slowly, slowly towards the light we go....