Top 10: Lessons From Marc Forgione’s Kitchen

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Inspiration
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I came across these a while back and they hit home for me.  These are some of the things my first chef ever taught me.  Every young chef should memorize these, repeat them over and over again and make sure every day you go to work you follow them to the T.

No.10 Move With Precision

“My old man [Larry Forgione, considered the ‘Godfather of American Cuisine’] is very silent, very clean, very precise. He was cooking something and already thinking about the next step, and everything ended up on the plate in the perfect manner. He always had that uncanny ability.”

No.9 Learn The Zen Of Flipping An Egg

“My first real culinary triumph was when I learned how to flip an egg. That was probably third or fourth grade. I remember, I learned how to do it and I probably flipped that egg about forty times once I figured out to do it. Honest to God, flipping an egg is a look into being able to cook in a fine dining restaurant. You have to have finesse, you have to have power, you have to have the timing right. A little too hard and you’re going to break it, a little too soft and it’s not going to flip. The perfect over-easy egg is something every cook needs to accomplish. No spatula — that’s cheating. Teflon pan, cheating. That’s like riding a bike with training wheels.”

No.8 Get A Sharp Knife

“You need a sharp knife, that’s for sure.”

No.7 Know And Share The Common Goal

“[In the restaurant kitchen] everybody cares about what’s going on. Nobody wants you to make a mistake, or them to make a mistake. They don’t need the chef to tell them to clean up. They just clean up. I’d never been in a place where everyone was going toward the common goal like that. It’s really cool.”

No.6 Stay Cool: Don’t Flip Out

“At home you’re cooking for fun, man. If you’re yelling at somebody at home, it’s time to sit on a leather couch and talk to somebody. Cooking at restaurants is fun, but cooking at home especially should be for sh*ts and giggles. If you’re yelling at somebody to hurry up with the chopping of the onions at home — take a step back and relax, have a glass of wine.”




No.5 Yelling Is Okay (At Work)

“I only yell when I have to. I’ve read other chefs saying, ‘Well if he’s yelling then he didn’t prepare them properly.’ I guess they have robots that never make a mistake. Again, there’s nothing wrong with yelling at people. You ever see Tom Coughlin during footballgame? I mean, he yells. That doesn’t make him a bad coach. Vince Lombardi, he used to yell. Pretty good f*cking coach, no?” 

No.4 Understand The Importance Of Salt And Pepper

“You need to know how to use salt and pepper. That’s the difference between a good cook and a great cook: salt, pepper and patience. Most people don’t realize how important two little things are: salt and pepper. Especially when I’m at home. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving. People are like ‘can you taste this? What’s missing?’ Salt. Put salt in it and — holy sh*t, this is delicious.”

No.3 Care About The Big Picture

“Don’t just throw a piece of meat in the pan and think you’re going to put it on the plate and you’ll all enjoy it. I can tell, two minutes, walking into a restaurant if that place cares about what they do. Before I even get any food. You can just tell by the way the hostess greets you, by the way they walk you to your table, by the way they ask if you want a drink. You can’t mask that. You can’t force somebody to be on board with what you do. I can show you all day how to do it, but I can’t show them how to care about what you do. You have to care about what you do and everyone will follow.”

No.2 Lead By Example — In The Kitchen And In Life

“Pino Maffeo (Food & Wine’s ‘Best New Chef’ in 2006), taught me how to balance social life and being a man and being a cook at the same time. I was working at Pazo at 23. And a lot of cooks like myself, especially when you’re that young — the restaurant business is hard, you want to go out after, have a drink, blow off steam. He was the one who showed me how to be able to blow off steam and make sure you’re the first at work. If you’re going out with the cooks and you’re the sous chef, make sure you’re buying them a drink. Don’t let them see you tired or sweating. Make sure you’re on them for being tired. You know, it’s leading by example. I’ve always been a believer in first one in, last one out.”

No.1 Love Thy Food

“If you’re cooking for a girl, you’re trying to seal the deal, so cook from your heart. She’ll taste it. [Various laughter in the room.] You laugh at that. It has nothing to do with being romantic. I will give you a hamburger I told I hated. Then I will give you a hamburger that I told I loved. [More laughter.] Shhh. As I’m cooking, I will tell the hamburger ‘I hate you, you suck, you’re a piece of sh*t,’ then I’ll serve it to you. Then I’ll use the same meat, and I’ll tell the hamburger that I love it, and I’ll baste it, and I’ll treat it with respect. I guarantee you’ll pick the one that I told I loved. It tastes better for some reason, and you can’t tell me why.”


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