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: Washington, D.C., pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac.
Her sticky buns, lemon poppy seed doughnuts and other delicious recipes won her many fans during her time at Birch & Barley in Washington, D.C., as well as repeated James Beard Award nominations. But Tiffany MacIsaac’s reputation for sweetness goes beyond these ambrosial treats. She’s also one of the nicest people in the industry. Now that MacIsaac is running her own catering business and opening an independent bakery (her first Buttercream Bakeshop location is expected to open in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood this spring), we may finally get to see her peevish side. Here are some of the things that get her riled up, in her own words:
1. Waking up at 3 a.m. for work
After years of working in restaurants, my body is more accustomed to going to bed at 3 a.m. than waking up at that ungodly hour. I’ll never get used to it, but I apply a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality to the situation, putting on a smile and some good music, and push through. Someone’s gotta make sure breakfast is hot and fresh, and at least there’s an unlimited amount of coffee available.
2. When customers are mean to baristas
We get it. Your day sucked and you are looking for someone to take it out on. Well, look somewhere else because cursing at a barista because the bakery is out of the scone you wanted or mixed up your order is NOT OKAY AT MY SHOP. We are all human. I think you’ll find that if you treat a mistake with kindness, you’ll be a lot more likely to have that person behind the counter go out of their way to turn that mistake into a great experience.
3. That all kitchen equipment breaks on Friday at 6 p.m.
This is the rule of all kitchens! Freezers full of ice cream crashing. Ice machines dying. Coffee grinders malfunctioning. Things in restaurants are bound to break, it’s a given, but why can’t they break on a Monday at noon? That’s when you are slow and have plenty of time to get someone in that day. It’s always on the freakin’ weekend when it costs double and takes twice as long.
4. Delivering wedding cakes to venues with a dirt road
There’s nothing worse than driving 90 minutes with a cake in pristine condition only to discover the last 300 feet of the journey will be taken on a dirt road. Nooooooo! I drive about three miles an hour in the hopes that the cake won’t shake itself a crack in the buttercream, or the heavy sugar flowers won’t tear through the fondant decorations.
5. Customers questioning the price of their wedding cake
Custom cakes made in a good bakery, from scratch, using great ingredients are expensive. I didn’t make this rule. When it comes to wedding cakes, I try to be patient, knowing the client has most likely never ordered a wedding cake, so they have no idea about pricing. But you’d be shocked how often people say, “But at Costco…” or “I can buy sheet cake at Safeway for less!” Of course you can! And if you want to, then by all means, I’m not going to try and stop you. It’s your day, get whatever you want, just please don’t compare our artisanal product to a mass-produced one.
6. Using texting to call out sick
I love to text, don’t get me wrong. And those little emoji guys really help convey my mood. But staff members trying to “call” out of work via text is not cool. It’s called “calling” out for a reason. It’s sad that I need to tell every hire “if you are sick or have an emergency and can’t come to work you MUST pick up a phone and talk to a manager.” Shouldn’t that be a given?
7. Watching myself/listening to myself do anything
I hate the sound of my own voice, and I feel super-awkward when I’m being photographed, so I pretty much avoid anything I’ve done on TV like the plague. I can’t even listen to the outgoing message on my voicemail.
8. Being asked if “it’s hard to be a woman in the kitchen”
Stop asking! It’s hard to be a person, male or female, in a top kitchen. Yes, there are less women, but working with a bunch of dudes has its perks: low drama, high comedic value. It’s hard to get to the top in any industry, whether you have boobs or not. Can we stop talking about it?
9. Bullshit journalists
Let me be clear, not all journalists are bullshit. I have a lot of respect for a lot of writers. I read magazines and websites like it’s my job, because I think it is part of my job. I need to know what’s happening elsewhere, and I also truly enjoy reading about food, chefs and restaurants. But like any industry, there are a few bad apples that ruin this bunch: unprofessional ones who speak out of turn, lazy ones who don’t do their research, ones who encourage pay for play and others who flat-out try extortion as a means to an end. My new favorite is when a journalist utilizes social media to call out a restaurant/airline/retail outlet for an unsatisfactory experience. We know what you’re doing, and we don’t like it.
10. Going out on the weekends
I love working weekends because I hate going out on Friday and Saturday. So. Many. People. I’ll gladly take my Mondays off and enjoy my drinks in empty bars and dinners in half-full restaurants, thank you.