I remember back when I got my first restaurant cooking job. I was sixteen and needed a second job to pay for a gold watch for my then-girlfriend’s birthday present. What was I thinking???
Anyway I remember walking into the back and looking for all the small appliances and cool gizmos that I associated with cooking. The early eighties were the heyday of Presto Hot Doggers and Ronco inside-the-egg scramblers, and I expected to see a lot of that stuff laying around in a professional kitchen.
The chef — Alfredo was his name if you can believe it — noticed me looking at all the empty work surfaces and racks of pans. “Looking for all the gadgets?” he asked. I smiled and nodded. “That’s them,” he said and gestured over to the prep cooks in the corner who were chopping away. A total of five minutes later I became one of them. A total of six minutes later I had my first serious cut on my hand.
But I always think of ol’ Alfredo when I walk into a restaurant kitchen and see nothing but pots, pans, bowls, cutting boards, knives and stoves. The dude was right. Most of the time in a good restaurant the people really are the gear.