Monday, July 27, 2009


If you've never been to Lacroix for Sunday brunch (and if you haven't you really must go), it is a lavish buffet of extreme proportion. Though I haven't been to dinner or lunch there in a while, brunch at Lacroix is probably my favorite meal in the city. There's just soooo much, and so much is delicious. In the dining room, the appetizers are spread out on a long table, things like duck croissants, grilled cheese with prosciutto, brie and Parmesan, grilled octopus with mango hot sauce, and one of my favorites, foie gras mousse encased in ganache and topped with tomato powder and fleur de sel. You think you're done but then your server shows you that there is a whole new assortment of hot food in the kitchen! Things like duck confit with sour cherries and polenta, curried lamb necks and Malaysian barbecued pork shoulder. Anyway, the point is, the guests get to go back in the kitchen where the cooks are working to get their hot food.

Anyway, let's flash back to Sunday at 7 o' clock in the morning. I woke up at seven on the dot to the sound of my alarm. Myself being an idiot, I turned the alarm off and told myself I would lie in bed for a few minutes (I should've known from past experience that that is always a bad idea). I lay in my bed staring at my ceiling, and I quickly fell back asleep, not thinking about how I would have to leave my house at 7:30 to get to Lacroix by 8 (when the shift starts). My dad came into my room and woke me up at 7:25 and I scrambled to get dressed. I neglected breakfast, grabbed my knives, and ran out the door. We left (my dad drove me) at exactly 7:30 and I actually arrived at Lacroix around 7:55.

Now everything would've been fine, and gone completely normal for the rest of the day, had I not, in my mad dash to get out the door, forgotten to shave. The head honcho chef was not amused in the least. He told me to go and shave immediately, and that I could borrow a razor from Pat (co-worker). I thought he was completely joking at first. I smiled but the expression was not returned. He wasn't joking. I asked Pat for a razor, but he didn't have one. He said he would find one for me, but there was none to be found. On a Saturday, coming in unshaven is bad, but not a huge problem. On Sundays however, when guests are coming in and out of the kitchen to get their food, being unshaven is a felony.

Throughout the day I was constantly reminded that I was unshaven, was forced to remain in the back cold-prep room where I was barely visible to guests, and was told that I was lucky I wasn't sent home. I went to the bathroom and found that in my opinion I really didn't look very bad at all.

I was pretty annoyed, and I really didn't think it was a big deal, but the people at Lacroix (or at least the head honcho) do, and it's refreshing to know that. It's reassuring to know that somebody cares about the details, that someone holds their standards for the restaurant so high that he won't let an unshaven cook be seen by a guest. This, is why I'm working at Lacroix. High standards on this front translates to high standards in other fronts, and I'm pleased to be working in a restaurant whose chefs care.


cd0103 said...

This story makes my heart sing, because yes-- someone cares.
Sorry for you, but good for Lacroix

jesse said...

I don't at all see it like that. This rule has NOTHING at ALL to do with food, in any way, so a silly rule like this is nothing to admire. I know everyone has different rules for cleanliness in the kitchen, but this is pretty damn ridiculous. Would you rather have your food made by someone who's allowed to focus entirely on it, or someone who's on edge all day because they have a little stubble. wtf?

This isn't a high standard, in my opinion. It's being a douche under the guise of "high standards." It's all someone's preference for how people should look, nothing objective, nothing important, and most of all, nothing involving cleanliness or quality of food. What's next, no one in the kitchen who doesn't have their head trimmed to exactly 1/2", wearing shoes tied exactly three times, with shaved arms, and perfectly plucked eyebrows. It's the opposite of care, it's disciple, power, and control gone too far, sorry. Don't let yourself see anything admirable in this.

James said...

Oops. This is why you keep a battery razor in the car. And spare batteries.

Arm70 said...

You're right. It is a good thing he cared so much about a small detail like that, even if it did probably annoy and embarrass you at the time. You're not trying to brown nose with this post, are you?? LOL

Mandoline said...

In the restaurant business it's hair today, gone tomorrow.

craigkite said...

Having rules about grooming is not a symptom of "doucheness". It is an indication of standards. Until the place is yours, and you sign the checks, it is easier to find peace in acceptance than to buck the system. It is not like they are mandating castration.
I have fought the hair length and whisker rules for years. There are more significant issues in most work places that need attention, when you stop and think about it. I am glad you have found the "reason" for the discipline. If you can not follow the the simple grooming instructions, or wish to re-write them, maybe you can not follow the cooking instructions...or wish to re-write them.
Yes, shaving is a pain in the ass. Beards are forbidden where I work. Everyone, including my boss, has come back from vacation with a goatee for a day. When you are in the weeds, hanging on to your "personal grooming style" is less important.