Under Fire: Good enough isn't good enough

Our former Cafe Society intern just decided to chuck college in favor of a real education: as a sous chef. In Under Fire, he chronicles his daily trials and tribulations in the kitchen.

I quickly grabbed the oven door and flung it open, doing a close inspection of the chicken bones I was roasting in there for stock. Hmm, I could have gone with them, but if I flipped them, maybe I could get more color. Another 45 minutes?

Good enough simply wasn't good enough: This is a huge mental shift that that everyone who wants to get somewhere in the kitchen (or in any other industry, for that matter) must face. It's not an issue of wanting to take that extra step, but having to.

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, as we worked our way through a checklist for an out-of-house party, I reached that crossroad again. This time it was a cheese and meat plate that I was attempting, but my chef came over because the thing looked...

"If you're going to do something, do it well. Just be professional on this," she said, as she squared off a few pieces of cheddar. "Take your time and make it look nice. We are trying to make first impressions here."

And while everything went out great for the party (and we were busy all night!), I made a transition more important than learning how to put up the perfect chicken. I finally understood that good enough is simply not good enough.

I'm already seeing how this affects my performance. Every night, the final thing I do is pull all the knives down from their magnetic rack, put them through the dish machine, and then put them up in order by size and type of knife -- it's the kind of thing a deranged serial killer with OCD would do.

Well, on this fine Friday night, as we were cleaning, the grill guy went up to those knives, put them in a rack and ran them through the dish machine. He was following the example I'd set!

While I realize that arranging knives is a small deal, with knives in place I can prepare for a beating tomorrow, when I'll be running the show again.

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Tyler Nemkov
Contact: Tyler Nemkov