'10 Things I Hate' With John Tesar
Dallas chef on knives, snobs, liars, haters
Life is filled with wonderful things and terrible things. During interviews, however, we pretty much only get to hear about the wonderful things. Ten Things I Hate is a chance for people in the food world to get things off their chest. We ask them what they hate, they give us a list. Next up: Dallas chef John Tesar.
The past six months have been very, very good to John Tesar, chef of the seafood-centric Spoon in Dallas. The former Top Chef contestant was just named a semi-finalist for the 2014 James Beard Outstanding Chef: Southwest award, Spoon was listed as one of Bon Appétit's 50 Best New Restaurants of 2013 and Tesar's got a new restaurant opening in Dallas and possibly more on the way in Memphis and the Carolina coast. The dude is busy. But he does have time to set the record straight. Here are 10 things that John Tesar hates:
- I hate when food critics have their own agenda — and when it seems that their agenda becomes more important than the integrity of the review. It creates hype and almost leads to a false sense of public perception.
- I hate cooks that work at a famous restaurant for a few days or a week and put it on their resume. Once you give it to your PR firm and they send it out, it becomes truth to the world. It’s bullshit.
- I hate artists and scientists that become chefs (unless they are truly talented as chefs as well). It’s easy for a scientist to break down molecules and methodically create a good-tasting dish, however if it’s soulless it’s no better than a piece of commercial art on a wall. In the same regard, if an artist makes food that is pretty but has no real content, it too is soulless and for me cooking is all about the soul. There are people who are both, but it’s very rare.
- I hate chefs that take dishes from other menus and don’t give credit to the restaurant or chef that they got the inspiration from.
- I hate customers that have to cut their food in half the minute they get it, smash it with a fork and knife, send it back and say that they want more fire on it. These are people that don’t know how to eat from the outside in. I hate those people. On the same note, I hate servers that come to your table and force you to cut your steak in half and see if your steak is cooked property.
- I live in Texas and I hate servers that say, “How y’all doing” or “Can I cook that up for ya?” and “How’s your food tasting tonight?”
- I hate sommeliers that think they know everything about wine. Except for my friend Aldo Sohm at La Bernardin, who does know everything about wine.
- I hate restaurants that make you book 30 days to the date of your next reservation — and then you go walk by that restaurant and there’s empty tables in it. We’re all tired of the marketing plan that “you're so popular that nobody can get in.”
- I hate chefs that have a public presence, or write books or are on TV, that diss other famous chefs, and then when they become famous they start hanging out with the chefs that they were just making fun of.
- I hate chefs who have knife bags filled with $5,000 worth of Japanese stainless steel knives and don’t know how to brunoise, slice, chop or dice. Or they don’t know how to sharpen them after they buy them. I do everything with three knives all day and that’s more than enough.
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