July 24, 2007
Excuse me while I take a moment to rant about a pet peeve of mine… chefs who smoke. What’s with all the people in the culinary field who smoke? It is me or is every single person on a reality cooking show addicted to nicotine, turning their teeth yellow and deadening their palates? I’m not kidding here, can someone please answer this question for me because it’s all I see.
Last season’s Hell’s Kitchen was bad enough with Keith, Virginia, Garrett, Sarah and others chain smoking after every dinner service, but this season it seems like everyone smokes, everyone! And it isn’t just Hell’s Kitchen, but Top Chef and Next Food Network Star as well. I know that aspiring to be a world class chef is stressful, but these are smart people who should know better. How can anyone be serious about becoming a five-star chef when their palate is coated in carbon and their taste-buds are all but dead? How can they expect to cook a Michelin Star meal when they need to cut out in the middle of service for a “drag”; their fingers stained brown from puffing?
Needless to say I find the entire affair of smoking and eating, quite disgusting. Smokers choke the air of diners all around them, simply so they can “relax”. It’s selfish, unsanitary and rude. Unfortunately, living in Greensboro, NC makes this problem almost impossible to avoid since we’re in the tobacco belt. When my wife and I go out for sushi, we always try to arrive as early as possible to get in and out before the smokers arrive. I know that in Japan, cigarette smoke is part of the sushi experience, but that doesn’t make it right. Call me crazy, but the last thing I want to taste with my fresh salmon sashimi is Camel Joe’s butt. So when it comes to those who prepare food for a living, I would think a desire to properly taste your creations would override addiction. Evidently not.
So does anyone know why so many chefs smoke? Is one of the pre-requisite classes in culinary school, “Nicotine and You”? Do kitchen supply companies have secret kick back programs with the tobacco industry? Perhaps the scores of U.K. chefs kicking the habit can help shed some light on the subject. Inquiring minds (and stomachs) want to know.