I've seen quite a disturbing number of negative posts and comments about Flynn McGarry. Flynn, according to Food & Wine™ magazine, is the
"16-year-old wunderkind, [who] will open Eureka at Creative Edge on September 12. A lot of people have heard of McGarry--he's the California kid whose elaborate supper club earned him the cover of The New York Times Magazine when he was all of 15."
A majority of the negativity originates with professional chefs, who have spent years learning, training, mentoring, studying, and slaving away in hot kitchens. Hectic, long, hot hours away from family and friends, just to keep the bills paid. Even chefs who work at some of our country's most popular restaurants have been "throwing shade" Flynn's way.
I'm here to tell you that it should stop. And it should stop now.
While I have never met Flynn, I would hire him this very second. Why? The kid has it.
Some folks don't need 25 years' worth of mistakes. Get over it.
I am a young chef, too. At 29 years old, I have often felt my share of jealousy, animosity, and an overwhelming sense of entitlement from others in our industry. But, that's okay. I am the Director of Food Services & Executive Chef for an elite private school. I chose to leave the fine-dining scene to pursue something new- bringing fine dining to a school. With me wearing the toque, we produced over 280,000 quality meals last year. This year, we will top 300,000. (Meals, I might add, that rival any restaurant in Houston.) Can you do that at your little restaurant? Probably not. But, we did.
Furthermore, I did it with only 7 years of experience.
I, too, have bled, been burned, and slaved away trying to make ends meet. I worked my way through culinary school, exactly like other "professional chefs." I even had a small stint on the Food Network, when I appeared last June on Alton Brown's Cutthroat Kitchen. No, I did not win. However, I did head back to work with my head held high, proud that a poor kid who grew up in a trailer, and a disabled combat veteran who proudly served his nation, could actually accomplish even an appearance on television.
However, this post isn't supposed to be about me. In fact, this post isn't even about Flynn.
This post is about you: the "unprofessional" chefs.
How dare you tear Flynn down! You would not be where you are today if it were not for the mentoring, and leadership of the chefs under whom you trained. Are you jealous that a 16-year-old is making strides where you can't? Did you not learn humility, and the necessity of mentoring?
Being a chef doesn't mean being "the boss," as one Facebook commenter stated.
Being a chef means leading by example. Being a chef means being a teacher, above all else, for your restaurant is only as good as the staff with whom you surround yourself. Being a chef means being a mentor. Being a chef means being at the top of your game, and bringing a wealth of knowledge to any kitchen you enter. This isn't so that you can tear a child down, it is so that you may share your knowledge, experiences, and wisdom with those who will follow your apron strings.
Real chefs care. Real chefs love. Real chefs do. Real chefs lead. Real chefs encourage. Real chefs correct.
It's time to take off your tall toques and stop being assholes.
And as for Flynn?
You pursue that dream with as much fervor, tenacity, and passion as you can. Never ask someone to do something that you are not first willing to do yourself. Treat everyone with respect, no matter the situation. You should take the actions of these negative folks and learn from them.
How does this make you feel? Insignificant? Good. Remember that feeling when you're in your kitchen one day, and take a vow to never make your staff endure the same level of unprofessionalism that you're feeling. When you want to yell, take a deep breath, pause, and say something encouraging, instead. Show your staff how to do it perfectly every time. When they mess up, correct them by showing them the proper technique. And then, make them redo the task.
Haters are going to hate. Make a conscious choice to be a lover, instead.
There is no need, nor is there a place, for this sort of animosity. At least not in my kitchen.
Lastly, if you ever need a sous chef for one of your pop-ups, I'll be the first to volunteer my time. (I work a school schedule, so I have most weekends free!)
Best wishes to you in this amazing endeavor. I hope to dine with you during my visit to NYC in the fall.
And if you ever need someone to talk to, well, I'm your chef.