Warm Sauces: introduction to sauces that are served warm

This next post will cover the subject of warm sauces I would rather say that this is the first introduction to young cooks who would like to have a little bit of an idea regarding the subject of sauces that are served warm and accompany a dish.

my introduction to the subject includes  several photos, most of which have been taken by my students and given to me from the years I used to teach in schools, and some were taken over the last couple of days in the restaurant either by one of my favorite photographers – Daniela Laila, or one of the chefs in the staff, including myself.

Marcel Kreusch one of Belgium top restaurateur in the 70 tastings one of Chef Basso’s sauces before lunch time

It is difficult to taste through an image, but you may certainly understand how a certain sauce can sit well on a dish. In fact, one of the worlds I have connected with most in the duration of my career is the world of sauce. The person that gave me the tools and the love for this world is the chef Attilio Basso, who was nicknamed by chefs from the big leagues as “Le Roi de Sauce” – the king of sauce. I had the privilege of being in his grasp for two full years and even they weren’t enough to learn everything.

These are the reasons I think a sauce is incredibly important and plays a vital role:

  1. A good sauce incorporates a world of rich flavors that can’t always necessarily be found in the main dish components (for example a good fillet steak by its own will become superior by a company of a great sauce.
  2. A good sauce adds aesthetic to the dish and many times will add a nice frame to the dish.
  3. Sauce often “saves” a dish that is slightly dry or was improperly prepared- still try to cook a great dish with a great sauce, don’t get used to a good sauce saving you.
  4. A good sauce may be used for dipping / wiping with bread at the end of a meal or “help” finish the meal with a light addition such as a potato puree usually does, something that usually gives a very fulfilling dining experience

What are the parameters of a good sauce in my point of view?

  1. The sauce must suit the dish – in color, texture, and of course, the combination of flavor – notice the photos attached (my work over different periods of time), they are meant to display the modification to the sauce in accordance with the colors and the layout of the food.
  2. A good consistency that goes well with the dish – there’s no iron-clad rule for this. The sauce may be prepared denser or more diluted, but there is one culinary term that comes up over and over again in cooking schools and in restaurants, and that is –” nape”. What is the definition of this term? That the sauce fills a spoon to the brim once dipped inside. Almost every time, this is a clear sign of a sauce with a successful consistency.

Types of hot sauces (A brief introduction)

Béchamel sauce – Usually, I really like starting off teaching the basics of sauce with this “so-called” sauce which many chefs disparage and undermine but it’s not by chance that this sauce is so often praised in cookbooks. This is in principle, a sauce made of butter, flour, and milk that received certain accentuations on flavor. Why is this sauce important? Firstly, simply because once it is prepared correctly it is very tasty. Secondly, it is a great tool for explaining and understanding consistency and color. This sauce goes well with almost any hot dish, but the best part about Béchamel is that its foundation is perfect for adding flavor. You may add almost any flavor you like, from lemon, herbs, anchovies, olives, tomatoes, beef stock, garlic, and the list goes on.

veloute sauce – this is, in fact, an extension of Béchamel but the milk is replaced with any liquid that was boiled with the main ingredient. For example, a broth that was cooked with chicken, veal, etc., or simply vegetables. Another difference between Halibut and Béchamel is the thickening process: roux. Béchamel made with white broth is done by melting butter and adding the flour afterward, while Halibut should be prepared with broth on butter that received a nutty shade from the pan, often called “burnt” butter. Because of that, the broth gets a blonde look, hence the name roux blond.  The following pictures are of low quality but they will show you a dish with a Halibut sauce made with fish.

In the following photos, you can see the wonderful texture of a veloute sauce based on fish stock and a chicken stock 

Warm Emulsions – this is where I get really excited. The process of an emulsion is briefly explained here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emulsion

In short, an emulsion is the combination of two liquids that cannot be absorbed simply by mixing them together. In the never-ending list of such sauces, we usually recognize the famous Hollandaise, but using the same principles of preparing the Hollandaise any number of oils, liquids and other ingredients may be combined. I will make sure to write a blog that focuses on this at some point.

The photo below is starring a Hollandaise dish.

A small note – many chefs around the globe use an awesome device called Thermomix to prepare the Hollandaise and as a result, don’t know how to prepare the sauce by hand – I highly recommend getting to know the technique. Furthermore, the modern kitchen has brought excellent tools for using emulsions such as storing them in a Siphon canister. Here is an example of Hollandaise sauce sitting on a dish:

Complex Sauces in this part, I will discuss sauces whose preparation method is usually comprised of three main steps. For example – white butter sauce, white wine sauce, and red wine sauce. What makes these sauces unique is that they are in general structure of 3 parts:

A base- the base is where the main flavor is extracted from (examples): a wine with added ingredients, beer, orange juice, water with an herbal mixture (infusion), etc…

A Body: The body of the complex sauces is usually a stock or broth of some sort or a liquid obtained from a vegetable in various method or  the common stocks are made of fish bones  animal bones such as poultry  cow, ship, game, pork, etc… stocks could be brown or white in color depends on the preparation  – it is important to note that a good stock doesn’t have a strong flavor, but more of a strong aroma the reason is that if you start your cooking with a strong  favorable stock your sauce will be very intense due to reduction taking place while making the sauces.

a good stock also plays It is also a good base for the final color of the sauce.

A Final texture: this is most often a fatty ingredient such as cream, butter, which gives the sauce its final and refined consistency and it is not a must, it is an optional step.

Again, this is all just to introduce you to the fascinating world of sauces – there are complex sauces made with no stocks such as the white butter sauce, and there are endless sauces based on endless ingredients and approaches but knowing the basics helps.

To summarize, here is a short glossary:

Reduction: a process in which the liquid is reduced for the following purpose: concentration of flavors and defining a consistency – sometimes concentration is done only for more accentuated flavors and sometimes for texture as well. Here is an example:

A white wine sauce begins with a reduction of white wine, shallots, and ground black pepper. In this case, the goal is to concentrate the wine and get rid of its acidity, concentrate the salts and sugars and reach an even base flavor which will provide with a base for the sauce. In most cases, the reduction of the wine is massive and most of the liquid evaporates – the reduction of the wine is done for flavor only and not for consistency.

The next step in the sauce is adding white wine vinegar which is also a part of the base flavor and it is also reduced for the same reason.

The next ingredient is stock. White wine sauce is usually used for fish or poultry so the stock is chosen will depend on which ingredient the sauce will accompany. Once again, we must reduce the liquid – this time the reduction is aimed at concentrating the flavor of the stock and merging the flavors of the base an outcome  is also achieving a certain consistency (There are some who ask why the stock is not reduced in advance and part of the answer is that every sauce is different at its base and therefore the stock cooks with the base and gives a much deeper flavor. 

Usually, at this stage, the stock is reduced to a syrup-like consistency – why? Experience shows that the texture works well and the flavors are developed to their best pick (this is solely a matter of experience)

The next step is the cream – note that we have a base with many flavors and the cream will add texture and a little sweetness which will even out the sauce. Here, too, experience shows that concentration should be applied – why? During the concentration, the water evaporates from the cream and the fat concentrates. Fat first of all has a taste that we connect to and the cream itself also gets a silk-like texture. Experience shows that the cream should be concentrated until large bubbles of air begin to appear on the surface.

 why is there is a need for experience? when it comes to making sauces based on reductions

There are many different stages in the making of sauces that  involves the reduction of liquids each ingredient reacts differently, and since the science of it is unclear, you will find yourself in the following situations:

First case:

The sauce will turn out excellent and it will taste very balanced, but its consistency at the point of the balanced flavor is very liquid. If we will continue to reduce it in order to achieve a more thicken sauce we will end up unbalancing the flavor of the sauce, so we are obligated to thicken the consistency with an ingredient that will not affect the taste. There are several classic methods to do so such as clod or hot roux, cornstarch, and other various thickeners.

Second case:

The sauce came out too thick but as long as the flavor is balanced adding some stock will take care of the problem and won’t dilute the sauce.

Third case:

The sauce will turn out in the desired consistency, but the flavor won’t be balanced – this usually happens to be a delicate game of salt, sweetness (sugar, honey, or anything else that seems fitting to you such as sourness – lemon, vinegar, etc.) You may occasionally use herbs to solve this or stalks of herbs that strongly improve the sauce flavors.

Try to achieve great results with base sauces, for example, White wine sauce, like many other base sauce is a great base for building great sauces adding and endless possibilities of other ingredients, creating any number of successful sauces.

here is a topic that is often raised and done little about in which I will try to make a little order: regarding Brown stock, Demi Glace, and Glace.

Brown stock –  a liquid that is usually produced from roasted bones, aromatics in a process of long cooking. It is full of (meaty) aroma and it has the brown color base which connects us, the diners, with meat. It usually used as a braising liquid or as a base to many sauces it is usually coming up in the second stage of preparing the sauce giving it the body. (as described above)

“Demi-glace is a bit more tricky to explian  and it is not a reduced brown stock like many thinks, until the late 60 Demi-glace was  a sauce based on a mother sauce called “sauce Espagnole ” in brief “sauce Espagnole ” is a brown sauce made of basic mirepoix (diced carrots, onions, celery) tomato paste basic aromatic herbs and spices (bouquet garnie) brown stock and a brown roux. demi-glace is achieved by  combining  equal volumes of “sauce Espagnole ” and brown stock and then reducing them  together to half of the volume of both combined and if needed to be thickened with a brown roux, and  that’s where it retrieves the name demi-glace- today in the modern kitchen Demi glace can refer to the following techniques :

1.a reduced brown stock till gets the consistence of a syrup and with a dense flavor. 

2.a brown stock reinforced with aromatic flavors and thickened by a brown roux

3. in many cases chef around the world will present a slightly thick brown sauce on a plate as a “Demi glace”.

Demi means in French half (the process involves reducing the sauce to half its volume and Glace means shiny in French.

A “Glace “is a brown stock that is reduced to a thick syrup consistency and then cools down – it is very solid to the touch when cold and melts easily in the heat if placed when melted directly on the often it feels very sticky on the tongue due to high gelatine concentration. Glaze usually strengthens sauces on a meaty base and is added in small doses at the last stages of preparing a dish. Its role is to emphasize and enhance colors and flavors, for example, the famous green pepper sauce which is featured in the following photos.

; here are some photos to empathize more

Complex sauces based on white stock (fish, veal, chicken) with butter and cream:

Complex sauces based on  brown meat stock (beef, duck, etc.) some of which I added butter or cream :

A picture of a dish whose sauce was prepared with the help of an adding a glace  technique

This is only a short introduction, there exist many other kinds of sauces and this is a blog for young chefs in age, kitchen experience, and soul.

Prolog, here is an oil painting of the person that tried his best to pass on to me a love for sauces, Atillo Basso (and next to him his Ludo Lanssens is right hand and sous-chef for over 20 years 1996).

Thank you  for reading,

Michael

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Guidance / Tip to the Young Chef: Cheesecake, Customer Satisfaction and How Sometimes Small Changes Can Lead to a Big Difference

 

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In this short article I would like to share with some of you young chefs (either in experience, age or soul) an example of a situation we – the professional chef, deal with often in our daily routine. A situation in which we – the chefs, believe in serving a specific dish and the customer does not respond to it as we expected them to.

One thing that always surprises me is how customers react to the dishes that we create  – sometimes my expectation does not always match that of the customer or suit their liking.

In Figure 1 you can see how I served a cheesecake, the creation of my Pastry Chef Sherry Tziboth, which in my opinion was a method of serving whose purpose was to provide the customer with a satisfactory eating experience (in terms of flavors and textures), – the idea behind the dish was that the client will easily mix the cake and sherbet in the serving plate creating a mix of different flavors and textures – the customer however, did not react enthusiastically to this approach.

How did we deal with this? We rearranged the plating. Sherry, the pastry chef, took charge without my intervention – the results of which you can find in Figures 2 and 3, with 3 being our choice of serving since then on a regular basis, which has resulted in greater customer satisfaction.

Note that the changes are minor and do not always have a logical explanation.

The lesson that I want to impart is that sometimes what seems like a good dish to us will not be seen the same by a customer but even the smallest changes can make an unsuccessful dish (in terms of sales) satisfactory.

With my experience over the years I have learned to listen to the customers who choose to eat where I serve, the chefs on my team, and the waiting staff who see things from the customer’s point of view and are able to pass on their reaction to us in the kitchen on the serving floor.

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Thanks for reading,

Michael

Posted in baking, cheese cake, chef, chicken, chocolate, cooking, cooking school, cooking training, dish plating, fish, kitchen, kitchen history, kitchen team, kitchen techniques, learning to cook, molecular gastronomy, mushrooms, potato, potatoes, restaurant, restaurant management, sauces, tart, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip/Guidance for the Young Chef: Mixing Salad Leaves for Service.

I personally really enjoy salad leaves, they are a wonderful raw ingredient with a variety of textures, flavors, and colors.

Here are a few salad dishes made with a premix of salad leaves we have prepared in the restaurant:

Leaves play a very important role in the culinary world – they may be a part of many dishes or play a role on their own, they may serve as a spice or as a decorative element, they may be eaten raw or in most cases even be cooked in various ways.

In this short post I will explain a method with which to make a premix of leaves to use during service.

This post is short but I find it very important as the method I will share with you here I go over with the chefs in my kitchen.

In the photos attached to this post (I apologize for their quality) you can see what we did in real life to prepare our mixed leaves.

The big secret is…. lots of water.

Step One

Prepare a balanced mixture of leaves that you like (or whatever proportions look right to you) – a mixture that combines different textures (and strengths of leaves), colors and flavors.

For example, endive, arugula, romaine lettuce, frisee lettuce. In this mix, for example, there is a level of integration between crunchy textures but also between different flavors – spicy arugula, bitterness from the endive, sweetness from the romaine lettuce, etc.

Step Two

Decide on the cut of the leaves you would like in your mix.

Perhaps you want large pieces… You need to choose if you want them torn or cut with a knife… Each such decision changes the final outcome of your salad and that is what I find wonderful about the kitchen.

Step Three

Prepare a large water bath  – I use the sink in the kitchen with enough water for the entire mix I prepared to be able to move. Place the leaves inside the water even if you have already received them cleaned and treated.

Step Four

Mix well – you will notice how easier it is to mix and combine the leaves in the water  – leaves floating in water mix very well without leaving any leaves untouched or causing damage to them.

Step Five

Strain the water and then dry well in a salad leaf dryer – the dryer the mixture is the better it will stay crisp and fresh for up to 2 days if taken care of, which should be done daily.

If you are a serious foodie cooking at home you can make a small amount using a domestic small salad dryer and keep in a good sealed tupperware box lined up with absorbing paper or better yet, a straining base.

I prefer keeping the mixture in a drawer of the fridge lined with a kitchen towel.

Of course, you may do the same thing with micro leaves such as parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and many more.

So before you run to learn how to scale and fillet a fish, or prepare meat, I suggest you begin with dismantling the base and learning how to properly take care of salad leaves.

Here are some photos of the steps:

Thank you for reading,

Michael

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Tip / Guidance for the Young Chef : The Relationship Between a Head chef and the Pastry Chef 

The way we manage our relationships may heavily influence the outcomes of many of our social circles, whether at work, home or with the people we choose to spend time with.

In the following article, I will try to provide with some tools that may improve a relationship in the kitchen I have often found strained for the wrong reasons.

Introduction:

Few Facts / Point of Views about Desserts in Restaurants

Nowadays people enjoy a good dessert and oftentimes plan their main course in accordance with their choice of dessert or the variety of desserts offered in the menu.

Many restaurants work with small kitchens relative to the size of the restaurant, therefore not allowing for good technical work on the part of the pastry chef resulting in the menu having to either outsource dessert or have a limited product in quantity and/or quality.

Profit from desserts ranges from 18-20%.

As somebody who has worked in several places around the globe (note that this is based only on what I have personally experienced), I can say that none of the restaurants that I have worked in had an appointed pastry chef; there would be a unit responsible for desserts that corresponded with the head chef—even in the Michelin starred restaurants that I have spent time in. However, this habit is slowly dying out in a certain category of restaurants.

In most cases though, the decision not to hire a pastry chef is clearly economic since simple desserts may be created with the tools and ingredients the restaurant already has, and outsourcing is also an easy option.

There is a clear trend of improvement and change of attitude restaurant group’s owners / managers have a great awareness of the subject of desserts.

Today, chefs are more aware of the fact that the right dessert can multiply sales by 6-7 times and balance out the food cost – what is the “right” dessert? In my opinion, it is simply one that many people enjoy, is easy to make and has good margins.

Desserts are often used as a smokescreen to fill in holes—that is, to satisfy an unhappy customer. It leaves a sweet taste and may be easily and quickly taken out.

The Relationship Between the Head Chef and Pastry Chef 

The pastry chef and the restaurant chef have a completely different status, and generally, according to the classical hierarchy of the kitchen, the pastry chef is supposed to be at the same level as an operational chef—a chef who runs a unit, above whom is the restaurant chef who lends a guiding hand.

Proper work between the two shouldn’t cause any sort of tension. The problem starts when one side invades an area outside his or her jurisdiction—for example, a pastry chef who doesn’t understand the restaurant’s needs and exceeds requests and the line laid out for him, or a head chef who gets involved in technical matters that he doesn’t understand—basically, silly ego and power struggles.

A good pastry unit can only be an asset to a restaurant, and as I wrote previously, a smart chef understands that a good pastry unit fills in many important gaps. I return again to the idea of the “smokescreen,” and that’s because a pastry unit produces under easier conditions and the dessert is ready well in advance, whereas a kitchen works under pressure and so it is likely that a good dessert unit has, as part of its arsenal, a good product that will complete the meal properly and end it with a smile.

In the nature of this type of work exists pressure between the two units—the kitchen staff generally sees itself as the fighting unit that is under the constant pressure of “deadlines”, whereas the pastry unit has its own pace, it generally starts and finishes early, and doesn’t deal as much with service. That way, naturally, unnecessary tension arises. But it is forbidden for each unit, rather than dealing with the issues it faces in its own area, to get involved and try to fix mistakes made by the other side—that also leads to unnecessary tension.

To summarize, a head chef doing his or her job properly should lead to flourishing results for the confectionary unit, without either side feeling any sort of threat, but rather complimentary activity. Not every restaurant needs a confectionary unit; it’s a subject that requires localized considerations. A pastry chef in a restaurant is generally an operational chef, and he/she needs to internalize that in order to carry out his/her work properly and preserve shalom bayit (peace in the house).

Here are a few photos from my personal environment:



Thank you for reading,

Michael

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Tip / Guidance for the Young Chef: Best Restaurants, Do They Exist? – Food for Thought

Sometime last year, a national media channel contacted me, asking if I, as a well-known chef in Israel, would be willing to participate in an anonymous survey and share my opinion on what the top three best restaurants are in the country.

Every time I was contacted regarding this matter (four times in all) my reply was that I had no opinion and no say in the matter!

I believe that I do not possess the right (being a professional chef) to provide an opinion and here is why:

Most people have no time to check out every restaurant, especially us chefs who work so many hours doing what we do. There are so many restaurants scattered about the country that I have not visited, whose food I have no tasted and whose concept I have not had the pleasure of experiencing.

So the list of restaurants I enjoy going to when I do have some time on my hands is quite short.

Furthermore, a restaurant is comprised of so many “ingredients” that the question “What is the best restaurant?” begs all restaurants to be given the same chance. I have heard of incredible restaurants all over Israel, some of which I follow on social media but have never actually seen myself for the same reason many other social media followers didn’t visit the restaurant yet – even good restaurants aren’t always situated in the most convenient locations and not everyone is able to find the time to visit restaurants, no matter how many good reviews they receive.

In addition to that, today, there exist so many different culinary styles and categories – and so much is based simply on personal preference and taste, so what is somebody’s favorite restaurant could be someone else’s second choice.

The point I am getting to is that I think that the title or theme of “best restaurants” is passé and to make that point I might as well mention that my own personal favorite restaurants were included in a top ten list on very few occasions.

When it comes to building a list of top restaurants several other categories come to mind for me that have much more relevance and importance, such as:

  • most influential restaurants in the culinary world (or restaurants that have impacted the industry)
  • restaurants that inspire
  • restaurants with great financial success
  • restaurants that are lead by an outstanding figure

The era of food bloggers, web exposure, social media, and our ability to travel easily and have to conform less to specific routines brought the end of another era – that of the “best restaurant”. There are lots of good restaurants around the country and all over the world, with no regard to how much they are recognized and well-known. I have had the privilege to live in large cities such as London, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and Brussels where one may find thousands of amazing restaurants – so how do we decide?

Since the era of the “best restaurant” is behind us, the new era of exposure is the answer in my opinion. With social media focused on different places, the people behind the pots came into view. I can give a list of chefs that have greatly influenced and inspired both myself and colleagues of mine, whose restaurants I always gladly return to, dream of visiting – restaurants with vision, inspiration and more… but the best is just not there.

In the following photos are some of the best known to be the est:

best

Thank you for reading,

Michael

 

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Tip / Guidance to the Young Chef : Carem’s “Chartreuse” Explained

We don’t always notice or put in the effort to study the history and evolution of certain dishes and memorable chefs who have laid out the foundation of cooking as we know it today.

One such chef is Antonin Carmen, who is recognized for his extravagant work process and presentation. In this blog, I would like to share with you a famous dish of his.

Introduction

Antonin Carem was a person of good taste with an interest for many things, architecture in particular. This highly influenced a lot of his work from how he would design his dish layout to the design of the table setting.  A good example of the architectural influence on this is one of his signature dishes – “Chartreuse”.

When you look at the photos of the dish below (either the one from his lifetime book that was taken in 1970 or the one of the dish I personally prepared) you can see that the outer envelope of the dish is constructed like a wall or a great wood floor, etc. Carem’s influence and way of life may be seen in many chefs of our era whose dishes are oftentimes also inspired by certain objects or by nature.

The main idea is a dish made with a vegetable envelope that holds different textures inside it. The fillings of the dish in all the photos below have an almost identical flavor and the difference lies in the envelope.

The Envelope

Made with blanched vegetables of choice which are “glued” and held in place by a chicken mousseline – a classic patte made of chicken meat, creamed egg whites, salt, and caayan pepper.

The Stuffing

Classically braised cabbage with bacon, sausages and back fat. Roasted pigeon meat.

Once the dish is constructed it goes into the oven in a “bain mary”, mainly to cook the chicken mousseline that holds the vegetable envelope. The dish is served either cold or hot at the center of the table.

A little about the photos in the album:

Photos 1 and 2 are from the “Haute cuisine de France ” time life series 1970 edition.

Photos 3 and 4 are dishes I have prepared during demos at the LCB in London in front of students, one of which took the photos and gave them to me.

Photos 5 to 12  were taken during the superior level practice in which each student had to prepare their own dish but we decided to make it a teamwork challenge and prepare a large dish. When you think of 8 people working for 3 hours – 24 man hours, it really gives you perspective on how many people have worked with Anonin Carem to make his amazing banquette.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

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Tip/Guidance for the Young Chef: A Few Words About the Woman in the Kitchen – Personal View

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Not long ago in a discussion group a colleague of mine stated that there are more men in the kitchen and asked whether there is a difference between female chefs and male chefs, here was my answer:

One of the reasons that there are more male chefs in the kitchen lies within the fact that the first (and I will not go into very detailed history) guilds of chefs and the general concept of a kitchen brigade originated in the military.

Fun fact: the classic chef’s jacket with two rows of buttons is based on the model of the Turkish military shirt.

When women take on careers that were defined by men they mostly prove to succeed just as well as men if not better (of course we can’t make generalizations), we have seen this with female surgeons, pilots, lawyers, and many other professions. I personally have a lot of respect for women who choose to go for careers dominated by men, these women oftentimes have to deal with men with big egos (it’s not by coincidence that when I decided to take flying lessons I chose a school ran by a female pilot – without offending anyone).

As one who has always had and still gets the privilege to employ women in my kitchens, teach both many men and women, and eat in the kitchens run by women – I must say that usually those who choose and remain in the profession are not easily defeated by anything, not even the excuse of fatigue and long hours, a woman that has chosen the profession – in general, knows she is entering the world of male cooks with high egos so  she is already in the state of mind to defend her status and prove her way up the ladder. So women that have decided to stay in the harsh kitchen world are usually just as good or even better, sorry guys!

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