Monday, October 17, 2011

Le Francais Stories, My Petit Lapin

I worked with a young Frenchman at Le Francais some time ago, who was aggressive and more than a wee bit sinister.  (From here on in I'll refer to him as Lapin.)  Lapin was the textbook saucier.  Not quite Sous Chef material, with a good deal of potential, but not without some deep character flaws that would keep him from ever going too high in the Chicago dining scene.

One of those was his being violent.

A newer fish cook, young, blonde and female was a frequent target of his douchiness (in France, also known as "showeriness").  One day she was prepping and standing with her legs somewhat crossed.  He kicked her leg out from under her and stated, "That's why you don't stand in the kitchen like that," as she fell. 

I was target a few times, as he often had projects that needed working on.  My first day in the kitchen staging he dropped two cases of beef marrow bones in front of me to scrape the sinew from (prep for the filet on the menu).  I made a chef's knife serrated after a day of scraping.  Another day, I was cutting mirepoix into a very small dice (coincidentally for the same dish's prep that would be sweated and quennelled to order), when he hit my right hand elbow while I was cutting.  His only words were, "Good.  You didn't cut yourself.  You know how to use a knife."

I was pissed off, and saw red.  Grabbing him by the neckerchief (standard unform), I quickly turned my knife on him.  I believe I said something to the effect of, "I do, and unless you want to be a dead Frenchman at my feet, I suggest you apologize."

We got along fine after that, for the most part.  Later on during my stint there, Lapin needed something from the cooler during service, but his heavy accent made it indecipherable to me.  "Hex!"  He called.  I came out with some random thing from the walkin, only to meet with his disapproval. 

"HEX!  Don't you American's know what HEX are!  It's by the mustard!!!" 

Confused, I went back to the cooler and brought out some other random article.  That was when he completely lost it.  Red faced and shouting, Lapin screamed,


I replied.

"Oh!  Eggs!" 

He wasn't too happy after that.

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