Eli Kirshtein

Eli Kirshtein explains why a chef can and should get upset when his/her dish is being criticized.

on Dec 9, 2010

You know they don’t come easy. Sometimes you can have all the faith in the world about your work and what you have done, but it might not be felt by all the powers that be. As chefs, especially at a high level, you are taught to have a swagger, arrogance even. Not entirely in a bad way, but a confidence is a hallmark of a good chef. If you aren’t sure about your craft and work, you aren’t doing a good job; you aren’t giving it your all. But also, it’s not terrible to being open to opinion and criticism about your work. But really at the end of the day, you have to be strong and proud of you and your craft.

At the end of the day a chef cooks, hopefully with love and fervor. When someone speaks lowly of a chefs work or ideas, they should get upset, and they should get irritated. 

Unless it was created out of poor form or intention, in both conception and execution, a chef should feel very passionate about it; otherwise there is no reason to create. Each and every dish is a child of a chefs, it gets treated with the love and respect as such. If you turn your back on it, or stand down to it, than it was disingenuous all together. There is nothing wrong with pointing out flaws or mistakes, but the original idea should be grasped and believed in.

What your expectations are don’t always translate to reality. When you think things are going to happen, that doesn’t mean that they will.  Think the fate of the 2007 Patriots, or maybe even the 1980 Soviet hockey team, expectations weren’t achieved to say the least. Every day is game day, and you have to treat it as such, you never know when someone has a bloodlust and won’t just rollover. With that being said, sometimes it isn’t quite so aggressive, it can just be who plays it safe versus someone who gives it their all, and doesn’t succeed. Sometimes the extra effort doesn’t denote a better final result.

It can be really easy to feel tides changing and start to pass blame, start to justify reasons for failure even. But a strong willed and focused chef will accept failure as his or her own. Their inability to produce with the lack of help is their own fault, not the absentee party. When you aren’t able to achieve goals, you might scale back, simplify, be slightly less ambitious; or in the presence of greatness, you push harder and get the job done. At the end of the day, you will live and die by your own hand, not someone who isn’t there.

Maybe I’m partial, but I must attest to Jen as a person as well as a chef. Over the last couple years of my time knowing her, I have found her to be exceptionally caring and compassionate in a social world as well as being inspirational in a professional sense. With her longevity working for Eric Ripert, she has acquired many of his quality traits. She is thoughtful and careful with her food, as well as being tender and caring about the people around her and the environment she is in. I can’t attest to it being her time to go home or not, but I do rest much faith in the judges unequivocal decisions, but I do know that she is one of the best chefs on the cast, maybe not in this challenge, but on the whole.

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/elikirshtein