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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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An ‘F’ for Chef-fort

My new company — well, new to me, anyway — is located in a large building with several other businesses. I’ve mentioned the gym, and there are a bunch of startups scattered around.

There’s also a culinary school, with a connected restaurant on the ground floor. I’ve never been to the restaurant, but I see the chefs-in-training come and go all the time, in their cheffing coats and funny hats and prison-issue-style pants. And after watching them for a little over two months now, I’ve come to a singular conclusion:

Chefs are pretty disgusting people.

Now, maybe it’s just these chefs. And to be fair, they’re not on the job when I see them. They’re on the way to work, or getting off after a long day of sauteeing or julienneing or whatever the hell they teach you in food class. Still, for being ten minutes removed from honest-to-god knife-in-hand whisk-a-licious kitchen time?

“You won’t find more spitting, smoking, crotch-grabbing and ass-scratching anywhere this side of an MLB clubhouse. Or maybe a house of Congress.”

Chefs are pretty disgusting people.

Seriously. You won’t find more spitting, smoking, crotch-grabbing and ass-scratching anywhere this side of an MLB clubhouse. Or maybe a house of Congress. The point is, these are not people that I would especially want handling my food. Or silverware. Or pushing the same elevator buttons, quite frankly. If they’re not going to wear gloves in the building hallways, I’m thinking of doing it myself.

I’ve considered whether maybe I’m being too hard on these kids. Perhaps I’m holding them to a higher hygienic standard, just because they glom their filthy paws on things that I might want to put in my mouth.

Then again? No. I’ll allow that we all do the things I’ve seen these cheflets do. Humans are disgusting creatures. Why, I myself — and don’t be alarmed, now — may have scratched or spat or picked or rubbed something that was, in the strictest sense, ‘inappropriate’. I’ll own that.

But there’s a big difference. I do those things alone, largely in the privacy of my own home. Or at various dinner parties or family gatherings that I’m trying to get out of. But never — I can’t stress this enough, never — near the office, nor out in the open where innocent passersby might see and be scandalized. Or splattered, as the case may be.

Meanwhile, these kitchen cowboys throw it right out there in the open. I’d feel a lot better if they were each fitted with a sneeze guard all the way around. Not to keep the germs out, mind you. But to keep the icky in.

So no, I haven’t been to the restaurant in our building. But my wife keeps asking when we’re going to check it out. She says she’s heard good things, that the food’s supposed to be good and the menu is really innovative. I consider countering with “Yes, but last week I saw the sous chef leaving work with his hand down his pants.” I don’t know what he’s ‘innovating’ down there, exactly — but I’m pretty certain I don’t want it on a plate served with squid ink risotto and the veggie of the day.

But do I say this to my wife? These are her friends recommending this restaurant to her. If I tell her how skeeved out I am about the place, what’ll that say about them? And what will they say to me? A lot of them are more easily skeeved than I am — would they prefer the ignorant bliss of not knowing what recently-hocking, -farting or -spewing yahoo had his creme all over their brulee? What’s done is done, and likely pooped into the history books by now. Will they really sleep easier, if the truth gets back to them via my missus?

On the other hand, what if these people really liked the place? They have a right to know what’s what — especially if they’re planning another trip. Unless I’m overreacting. Maybe I’m just having a Poppie’s moment. Or the chefs who work the restaurant are the good ones, who keep their hands and mouths and noses clean around the foodstuff workspace.

(Though if that’s true, they’re hiding them well. Maybe the reward for doing well in culinary school is being shackled to a pasta maker and never let out of the kitchen. That would explain a lot of Gordon Ramsey’s schtick, anyway.)

For now, I’ve been able to put the question off. But the day is coming soon when my lovely wife will ask me to make a reservation at the school restaurant, and I’ll have to decide what to do. Reveal the truth? Feign appendicitis? Eat some exciting fresh and possibly booger-tainted dish? Only time will tell.

But I’m leaning toward the appendix thing. From what I’ve seen? It might even be worth the surgery. No lie.

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