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Old 01-02-2007, 04:47 PM   #11
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Have never smoked. Have known some folks who do that say they can taste foods better once they quit. Have never had anyone tell me the opposite, but then again that aspect would probably never come up.

Sure believe those folks who here who say they have seen no difference. Maybe some do and some don't. Heck, I don't know.

Don't mind smokers at all.

And yes my tastes have changed over the years. Am told our taste buds die, or become less sensitive, as we age.

And don't know if I found that true but am sure less sensitive to some flavors, like capsaicin. But find I still don't like much salt and actually like a lot less garlic than I used to. Am getting almost intolerant to it in any but the smallest quantities.

Go figure.

Anyway don't mind smokers at all, but would always encourage folks to stop because of the health risks.

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Old 01-02-2007, 04:50 PM   #12
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I'm not even sure it's safe to wade in here.. but here goes...

I'm a reformed smoker of the worst kind. I don't know what ever possesed me, nor do I know what took me so long to wake up and smell the roses. Literally. (for the record, I was a social smoker, if there really is such a thing. I only smoked when out, especially at clubs..but I was in clubs at least 4 times a week)

Can comparisons be made between smokers and non-smokers relating to taste buds? I've read and heard enough stories from people with better medical backgrounds than mine to accept it. I experienced it. I imagine if I smoked all the time I would have experienced it more strongly, as well.

Now, regarding a smoking chef's inability to be a good team leader, well all I can say to that is hogwash. What a dreadful generalization to make. Every single kitchen operates differently. Unless you are actually an employee in one, there is absolutely no way to ascertain if the smokers are better workers than others. As a control, let's assume that no one takes unnecessary breaks, that everyone puts in the same amount of time.

Unfortunately, smoking does take it's toll on a person's health. Those who do smoke tend to suffer more respiratory ailments than non-smokers. Aside from health, those who smoke do tend to 'disappear' more often than those who do not. As far as kitchen employees are concerned, the wash-up routine after smoking eats into the work schedule, too.

So, again, yes, I agree that smoking does alter one's tastebud abilities. But, a resounding no that smokers cannot be effective and aggressive team leaders.

......climbing out now..reaching for a towel....

How can we sleep while our beds are burning???
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BlueCat
I smoked for years, and now I have not smoked for years, and I never ever experienced the wonders that people said I would of being able to taste food better after quitting. Food never tasted one bit different after I gave up the habit ...
Ditto. I was bitterly disappointed about that when I quit.

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Old 01-02-2007, 05:23 PM   #14
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Seasoning is such a personal thing that I doubt that you can find even 2 persons that have absolutely identical taste. I use only salt and paprika in my chicken, for example, everybody loves it, okay, there are couple of secret ingredients there too. But, even people who love heavy seasoning with all kind of spices and herbs come and ask for my recipe.
I'll maybe agree with taking brakes and such, but in no way I would agree on the taste part. It's all anti smoking propaganda.
You are what you eat.
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:29 PM   #15
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I smoked for years, and when I quit. I noticed generally better oral health, and fewer colds/sinus issues. My taste did not really change. I've always had a great taster, prefering the savory over the sweet. I prefer vegetables to fruits.
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by buckytom
having had many reasons to hide certain aromas on my person (from mom and dad , girlfiends , the police , etc. ), the ones that smoked had a greatly reduced sense of smell.
it was much easier to sneak one by them than those that didn't smoke.
Isn't that the truth!
As far as seasoning is concerned, it depends on what the chef's been smoking.

Seriously, we don't all have the same amount of taste buds. Scientists have done a study on this, actually counting the amount of taste buds on a certain size area of the tongue.
That would explain why some smokers still have a keener sense of taste than some non-smokers.
The olfactory senses must be included here also, and I don't know if there's been a study made on that, but smokers are notorious for their loss of their sense of smell. Yet, after 45 years as a smoker, I notice aromas and odors that my husband (a smoker) and my daughter (a non-smoker) can't smell.

Part of the answer could also be how all these stimuli, including color, are perceived by the brain.
I am right-brained...the imaginative, creative side. I find recipes or make them up to utilize what I have on hand, and come up with a good-looking, tasty meal.
My husband is left-brained...the practical, mechanical side. He's the one that makes everything happen. He does the frying, grilling, searing...all the things that actually get the meal on the table.

We're a good team, he and I. But then, that's the way we got together in the first place. At parties, we were always the ones in the kitchen, cooking together.
We get by with a little help from our friends
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:26 PM   #17
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From a professional perspective, I think that Hopz is dead on. Smokers tend to bring unwanted baggage. When I was in a position of hiring and/or recommending, smokers didn't fare too well:)) (It is an industry with a high percentage of smokers/heavy drinkers etc. - a management minefield.) A lesser cook will improve, and should be worth the investment. A cook with nasty habits is probably not worth the trouble.

As to salt/spice levels - it is almost entirely an issue of personal preference. One has to 'guesstimate' what levels will most appeal to the customer. Salt and pepper are so easily bumped up at the table that excessive use in the kitchen is hard to forgive.
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Old 01-02-2007, 07:29 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by D_Blackwell

As to salt/spice levels - it is almost entirely an issue of personal preference. One has to 'guesstimate' what levels will most appeal to the customer. .
Aha, that is exactly the point of the topic, not the fact that some bodies attitude stinks. Any body could be lousy worker.
You are what you eat.
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:20 PM   #19
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I'm one of only 2 non-smokers in the kitchen I work at, and I would have to agree that the smokers among us "disappear" more often than the two of us who don't smoke. That said, everyone I work with is very professional and some of the hardest workers I have ever been around. In fact, I would say the only folks I know who work harder than these guys are the landscaping crew I used to roll with.

The head chef smokes like a chimney, plays gameboy, and even drinks the occassional beer on the job. But he's a thorough professional and the most talented chef I know. He has NEVER let his habits affect his quality of work and will NEVER be found indulging himself when there is work to be done. The only time he ever breaks out the gameboy or a beer is on a dead slow night anyways.

As for mis-seasoning or over-seasoning, I can't say that he definitely does it much less than the rest of us, and everyone makes mistakes here and there; on a crazy night its to be expected. He makes the best food I've ever tasted, his special event meals are meticulously planned out and executed, and even when he takes a turn a putting some dinner together for the dishwasher, he can throw together a plate in 5-10 minutes thats good enough to be a menu item.

So yes, while smoking may affect us somewhat in the workplace, a GOOD CHEF will never let his habit get the best of him.
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:39 PM   #20
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using my fingers and toes, i find i put about 18 or 19 years in the restaurant industry, eventually working my way up to head and executive chef positions.

while there may be individual exceptions, my general experience was also that most smoking chefs tended to overseason, especially in the salt department. there are casual smokers and then there are chain smokers, but i'd have to agree with hopz and d_b, heavy smokers tend to be a liablility in the kitchen.

a chef's tongue and nose are his or her most important tool.

let me make sure that wine's ok before i use it.
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