5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Chefs have a lot on their plates, from food costs and health inspections to sourcing ethically produced ingredients and making sure to see their family every once in a while. They're an anxious bunch, but chances are that diners will never see anything beyond a perfectly arranged plate and a sweat-free forehead. Restaurants are as much in the business of theater as they are in dining.
Todd Wiss knows what it takes to keep the seams from showing to the customers. As the executive chef of Firefly in Washington, D.C., he has made a mission of serving seasonal, sustainable, local food (often harvested from just a few feet above the restaurant), often with diners' dietary restrictions in mind. But there's an awful lot of work that goes into making things at this neighborhood favorite - or any restaurant - seem cool as a cucumber, even when the heat is on.
5 things that make chefs anxious (that diners never see): Todd Wiss
Take one big, bad, legendary computer, a social network and a team of adventurous chefs, then mix them up inside a food truck. Serve up the results to a line of curious, hungry festival-goers eager to sample the world’s first man-machine fusion food.
It's called "cognitive cooking" and here is how it works: Twitter users employing the hashtag #ibmfoodtruck and voters on IBM's website pick a familiar dish like kebabs or fish and chips. Then IBM's Watson supercomputer (best known to non-techies for its appearance on the TV show "Jeopardy") creates a long list of eight or more ingredients based upon a chemical analysis of their flavor compounds. Finally, the dish is conceived, prepared and served from a food truck by a team of cooks co-led by Michael Laiskonis and James Briscione of New York City's Institute of Culinary Education.
Chelsea Wheeler is a 10-year-old girl with a passion and a plan.
"I want to have a diner," she says, sitting on her bed in her parents' house in Oxford, Connecticut.
"I'd like to make things that people think are yummy healthier, less fatty, and make it like they're being cooked for the Queen."
Chelsea loves helping her parents, Chris and Linda, prepare food for the whole family. They say she spends much of her free time watching the Food Network looking out for new recipes.
But Chelsea cannot taste the food she makes. She can eat almost no food at all. She suffers from a rare disease that has caused her intestine to fail irreversibly.
All Michael Randolph needs right now is a pair of tweezers. The small implement is a far cry from the firepower the former Marine used to pack, but he needs them to put the shredded cabbage finish on his elegant canapé of duck foie gras on toasted brioche with Dijon vinaigrette.
“Can I borrow your tweezers real quick, like for four minutes?” Randolph, a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, asks a colleague across the way from his prep station.
Time is of the essence. A full slate of lunch reservations is about to fill the dining room and Randolph has only few minutes to get his creations to the front of the kitchen. They will be the first bite eager diners take before the start of their three-course meal.
“I never really thought I’d be using tweezers in the kitchen,” blurts out Randolph, borrowed tweezers now in hand, as he delicately sets the last few cabbage shreds on the nickel-sized starters. Eight years ago, The Bocuse Restaurant’s kitchen was probably the last place he thought he’d wind up.
Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for Time, Esquire and now Food & Wine; he has authored several books, including The Hamburger: A History; and he is the founder of the Meatopia food festival. Follow him on Twitter @OzerskyTV.
Chefs are not, for the most part, happy people. Let's get that out of the way. They work long hours, they have hardly any home lives to speak of and they spend their whole day being mad at people who hate them right back.
It's a rough job. But it doesn't make it any easier when diners (in their minds, anyway) go out of their way to make them miserable. And while there are many ways diners can make chefs hate them, these five are surely near the top of the list.
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