The culinary world is full of vices, some of which you drink, others you smoke, while edible etceteras find themselves filed in the knotted bellies of kitchen folk everywhere. While some cooks find their fingers up to the knuckle in at least one of these pies, I only ever catch a whiff of the one I’m after, and it always smells like the best fucking pie in the history of pies. I’d wager a slice of Obvious pie that you’ve already guessed that I’m talking about Information pie. I get the impression that it exists in a perpetual state of cooling on an infinite sill somewhere in the restaurant universe that is just beyond my reach, but is close enough that I won’t stop trying to get my mitts on it. If I did manage such a feat, I’m positive the filling would be exponentially hotter than that molten apple goo you find in those dirt cheap and deep fried monstrosities they sell at any number of fast food chains, and that not only would it blister the roof of your mouth eternally, it would most certainly melt your brains. Nevertheless, I want me some of that goddamned pie.
By now you’re probably asking “What the fuck?!”, which is something I get to utter daily/nightly/madly/deeply. I’m often disappointed by the carnage that comes with dinner service on the weekend, mostly because I know that there’s a bevy of information that could be used to try and prevent it. To exist in a world where any questions you’ve got can be aimed at the internet and answered with astonishing swiftness and accuracy, and then work in another world where questions are met with several different answers that are consistent only by nature of their vagueness, is extremely frustrating. You’d think that after years of wading through misinformation that I’d stop asking, but I’m hoping that by hanging on to thousands of tiny details I’ll eventually have something that resembles the restaurant equivalent of that amazing book Marty McFly was packing around with him in Back To The Future 2, at which point I’ll ride my hoverboard out of Restaurant Hell and into Restaurant Heaven.
The people who have the information, or at least the ability to acquire it, are seemingly unaware of its importance to people such as myself. Before service begins I want two things: a cup of coffee and the numbers, and I usually do get these things. Everything seems kosher, and then we open. Madness ensues and priceless knowledge gets tossed around like a hot potato until it inevitably falls to the floor and gets kicked under a table, only to be discovered by the cleaners the next day and returned to the kitchen damaged and no longer useful.
The stakes are numerous and varied, of note are the collective morale of the staff, and the constant toeing of the fine line between having prepared too little or too much food. In the eyes of the cook, knowing what’s coming means the difference between eating or being eaten, and all too often we’re gobbled up by toothy mobs of well heeled clientele, our bones left in a cluttered heap in front of the stove. Instead of dreaming of success, our sleep is terrorized by worst case scenarios, haunted by hoards of hungry mouths with fickle palates. The head down/mouth shut approach is fine and all, but I’m not cut from a cloth that is comfortable with not questioning an unending chaos. I want to know why and where and when and how, ideally every five minutes until I get to go home. There can never be enough information, though I’m not sure I need to know if someone’s dog is vegan.
As far as vices go, gambling never really appealed to me because I understand how it feels to be gambled on; it’s awful. My thirst for a beer after service is rivaled only by my hunger for knowledge beforehand. I’m hooked. It reminds me of the old days when I would search throughout the scrambled stations for a glimpse of a nipple, the needle in the hay of my adolescence. Every smidgeon of intelligence that I gather rips a stitch in my blindfold, and sometimes I’m convinced that I can make out the shapes and sizes of what are heading towards me. The collision is always head on and unavoidable, but seeing makes it easier somehow. To be able to brace oneself is an extreme luxury, and a welcome vacation from being blind and misinformed.