A couple of weeks back, I finally saw the movie Burnt. Released in the year 2015, Burnt is about the life of a two-star Michelin chef Adam Jones (played by Bradley Cooper) who is trying to get a 3rd Michelin star to become, as they say in the movie Yoda of the kitchen world.
The events in the movie inspired me to write this article today to tell you about my piece of heart, which always stays inside the kitchen. Commercially and critically, this movie did not get that kind of praises what Chef (2014) got. However, from a different angle, I enjoyed the movie more than the Chef. Those who have not seen Chef yet, this movie is about another chef (played by Jon Favreau) who quits his job to start his food truck and eventually comes back to success.
Lot of you would debate on why I think Burnt was better than the Chef. To explain that let me give you the example of the two great boxing movies of my time. Rocky V/S Raging Bull. Now rocky is an inspirational story of an Italian boxer, who despite everything he does is an idealistic husband, a friend, and a gentleman. The crowd loves those idealistic types. On the other hand, the Raging Bull is the story of Jake La Motta who is a great boxer but will never be a heavyweight champion because of his bone structure. The anger he has inside the ring passes on to his social life making him against his girlfriend or best friend. In one of the sequences, he enjoys hitting his best friend, solely, because he throws a better punch. The movie explores the underbelly of boxing similar to what Burnt does for the kitchen.
In simple words, Kitchen means Chaos. Have you ever wondered why they put a ‘do not enter’ sign on the soundproof kitchen doors in every restaurant? Not because the guest might wander inside, but the reason they make those heavy soundproof doors in every restaurant is to stop those beasts with knives coming out. There is nothing charming to the life inside a kitchen. There’s shouting, howling, and swearing and somehow it just becomes part of your life.
Sometimes I do ask myself, why do I do 17 hours shift every day, for 26 days a month, to put food for people I will probably never see in my life? The answer to is that I am not doing this at all for the person who is eating the food. I do this for the person who is standing left or right to me who is somehow showing similar craziness as I am.
I mean, we Kitchen people are seriously crazy. Why would anyone in his right sense of mind do what we do every day?
Why we have to buy meat from the butcher when frozen meat is available? Why we have to peel potatoes the same way since the 1920s? Why do we have to marinate the meat for exact 12 hours and follow the original recipe, which was created in the 18th century when there was no zip pouch available? There is no reason for all of the madness. The kitchen is full of these stories. These mad people who get cussed by people day in and out and still show their faces the next day. I believe this madness pushes us towards greatness.
I loved the movie Burnt because of the madness portrayed in the script. Minus the food wastage, of course. Throwing food is a cardinal sin. Period. There’s no escape to it. If you screwed the recipe, you have to eat it yourself. There’s no second way out of it. After all, there’s no ‘Sandwich approach’ to feedback inside the Kitchen. I learned this word from my brother who works for a corporate. The sandwich approach means putting a negative feedback between layers of positive feedback. Nope, simply doesn’t work in the Kitchen.
The kitchen works like an Army, and why shouldn’t it be? After all, the kitchen hierarchy was created by a retired French army personal Chef Auguste Escoffier who called it as Brigade de Cuisine for organizing hierarchy in the Kitchen. And boy, he created something. Ever since the inception in the 14th century, every commercial kitchen follows the rule. Respect the Chef is the underlying code of the kitchen. You have to follow his lead and bring justice to his ideas, that’s teamwork for us. This was clearly evident in the film Burnt. Adam Jones, our protagonist, was clearly on a warpath and his comrades were fearlessly following him.
Well, the movie ended with Adam realizing there are bigger things to do than getting a 3rd Michelin star. Becoming a good human being for one. A better leader maybe. As I conclude this article, I look back at my career which started in the year 2007 when I was told to chop 20 Kilos of onion on day 1 for reasons unknown. It was some crazy times and I loved every second of it. I miss those moments dearly and I would do anything to go back to that times again. I would urge each one of you to get to know the chef from your favorite restaurant. Talk to him for once to understand what he goes through every day to do his job and to bring some happy memories for you. Burnt, in my book, is all aces. To conclude, all I would say that to become a great chef in our lives, each one of us in the kitchen did the same struggle Bruce Wayne did when he left his castle to become Batman.