5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Meet the man behind our managing editor’s Brussels sprouts epiphany - Josh Grinker. He’s the executive chef of the Brooklyn restaurant where he crafts the roasted marrow bones, smoked chocolate ice cream and hanger steaks that ultimately earned the restaurant two stars from the New York Times.
The old adage goes, "everybody has a secret," including chefs - and Grinker should know because, well, he is one.
Five Things Chefs Don't Want You to Know: Josh Grinker
In every culinary school in America, they hammer home the same three-word mantra to students day after day, year after year, until it’s like a little voice in your brain that guides virtually every culinary decision you will make for the rest of your career: 'Fat is Flavor.' And you know what? It’s true.
You know how you cook a great steak? You slather it in butter, throw it on the grill, paint it with more butter just about constantly, take it off the grill to let it rest - and paint it again. Then you slice it, put a nice big dollop of butter on it and let it gently melt under the broiler. Voila."
2. They aren’t in the kitchen
People don’t really seem to understand this. I have a friend who is a waiter at Po in Brooklyn, a small Italian restaurant that opened about four years ago. The original Po, in Manhattan, was once upon a time co-owned by Mario Batali before he sold it and went on to found a restaurant empire.
My waiter friend has people ask all the time if Mario is in the kitchen tonight. Actually, he’s just off the red-eye from Vegas, in a cab this very minute, racing back here to make sure your eggplant Parmesan is up to his specifications."
3. There’s salt in everything
It’s not some genius alchemy of exotic ingredients, or zig zag farm-to-table freshness that makes you coming back wanting more - it’s salt.
I don’t know why lay cooks are so resistant to this ideal, but they are. I taught a class on grilling a steak once and when I showered the beef with a crust of salt there were gasps from the audience as if I had just stabbed a small child. The result was a perfect steak.
When I give people a recipe that invariably ends with ‘salt to taste’ and they tell me it wasn’t as good as mine, I know the reason: not enough salt."
4. Your food was cooked by minions
The other major demographic working the skilled restaurant job are dumb blue-collar kids who have been lured by the chance of stardom, sort of like playing the lottery.
Oh yeah, there’s one group I forgot: alcoholics."
5. Chefs are jerks
Many, although not all, chefs are savvy enough to realize that their baby tantrums would be laughed at in the real world, so they step into the dining room in full regalia, all smiles and charm. Rest assured, the more gregarious and charming they are to you, dear diner, the more draconian and out of control they are to that poor fry cook."
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.