On kitchen violence, accidental and otherwise
Hall: I was cooking rabbit terrines in a water bath, and the oven door was janky, so I put it on the oven door to sit for a second. I looked over -- someone called my name -- and so the door gave out, and the whole roasting pan fell down and boiling water went all up my leg and my pants stuck to my leg. And it didn’t look that bad -- I actually went to the hospital -- but then the next day it looked like my leg had been dipped in a nuclear reactor.
Cohen: Searing mushrooms. You’re not supposed to salt them while they’re in the pan, you’re supposed to get a really hot pan, sear ‘em, and then when they come out, you’re supposed to salt them or else all the water starts to leach out. So I fucked that up, and the chef threw the hot pan, the mushrooms and oil at me, and that was fun.
Becker: [A sous chef] was coming behind me screaming in my ear at the top of his lungs, ultimately resulting in me taking a knife and sticking it in from one end of my hand through the other end. [Pointing at his hand] There’s the scar and there’s the exit wound.
Cohen: Wait, someone stabbed you?
Becker: No, I stabbed myself, going at a leg of lamb, because someone came behind me, grabbed my shoulders, and screamed in my ear. While I was boning out the leg of lamb. He was basically trying to rattle me, and he did! So I took him down in the walk-in later, and y’know, straightened it out. I’m gonna leave that part vague because it involves knives.
Hall: Two days after that [the nuclear rabbit incident] was my last day at Aureole. They didn’t go easy on me because of what happened before. They took all my clothes, all my stuff, my wallet, everything that I had in my locker, and they boiled all my clothes and everything that I had with onions and garlic, and then they cryovac’d it all, and then froze it. It was very creative!
Becker: We live in a different culture now. Hazing’s not tolerated. At some of the top tier restaurants I’m sure there are still certain practices that take place, but I think they’re much more PC now than they were back then. Back then it was a rite of passage.
Cohen: It kinda, like, makes you remember to do things, if you know what I mean.
Hall: It builds camaraderie. You’ve got people from all different walks of life that are all there for the same goal, the same passion. When you’re in such a intense environment with people working so closely -- literally closely -- you have this relationship that’s unlike anything in normal life. It’s a sort of chaotic intensity that brings you all together.