For my 10th wedding anniversary, I visited my favorite upscale restaurant in the city. It features a filet mignon dinner that was literally prepared in Heaven and delivered to our table by angels. The head chef, Pierre Brennen, had years of training from the finest culinary schools in France, along with experience in Italy and Thailand. On the rare occasion that I feel like spending $100 on a meal, I come here to Bruno’s.
Today, however, the head chef was gone. The kitchen doors swung open and I witnessed several of the chef assistants packing boxes and leaving the restaurant as if they had been fired. The doors swung closed and my server came to the table. Instead of the typical tuxedo-wearing waiter that I’m used to, this new guy was dressed in street clothes that were probably pulled off of the asphalt of Bourbon Street. I stared at this teenager closely and then realized that I had originally seen him behind the counter at Burger House.
He asked to take my order, claiming that he would prepare something extra special for me. I was startled.
“You’re going to cook the food?”
“Of course,” he replied. “Bruno’s realized that it could save money on cuisine by firing the chefs and replacing them with fast food cooks.”
“But what about the dishes? How could you have any training and experience in the restaurant business?”
“I’ve got plenty of training and experience. I took a two-week course in heat lamps and an additional week in deep frying. I’ve spent at least six months preparing burgers and fries, if not more. I’m certainly qualified to handle steak and lobster.”
“How can you be prepared to put together a filet mignon without going the route of Mr. Brennen?”
“Bruno’s realized that all of that extra training in culinary school is unnecessary and expensive. By hiring us, we’ll be able to provide the same product at a reduced amount. In the end, we’ll pass on the savings to you.”
“You can’t be serious! Surely 3 weeks at the Burger House does not equal the same amount of training that chefs possess.”
“Well, I’m currently a level 1 cook. Some of the very eager employees take a one-month course at the community college to further their knowledge of high cuisine.”
“But how would you know the detail of the different meals? Master chef Brennen had tons of training and experience to guide him.”
“If anything, Brennen’s training made him too narrow. He had all academic training. Me, on the other hand, I’m more well-rounded and haven’t limited the scope of my practice. I also have more real-world experience.”
“How can any this be possible?”
“Some senators were once in here during the old days and noticed that high cuisine is far too expensive. The government realized that by recognizing fast food cooks as master chefs, we could be paid on a similar scale as the Mr. Brennens of the past. The result is that we can pass the savings on to you.”
“But your menu prices have gone up and the wait time is longer.”
“You’re only looking at the final cost. The man power costs have decreased. What you’re paying extra for are the new compliance officers and package inspectors. We have to make sure that we catalogue all of our ingredients and then follow the same procedure for every meal. Gone are the days of adding a pinch of salt for flavor. Now, every item used in a recipe must be fully tested, measured, and retested before going into a dish. Sure, it takes lots of paperwork, but you’re getting a safer product now.”
“Does anyone go to culinary school anymore? How do you progress cooking science and create new dishes?”
“With recipe programs and well-authored cook books, I can prepare any meal. Besides, what are these new dishes that you speak of? Every meal that could ever be created has already been produced. There is nothing new that we could learn about food.”
“You’ve got me there. In that case, I’ll take a number 14, ’round steak wrapped in bacon.’”
“Excellent choice. Would you like fries with that?”