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Old 05-02-2006, 06:46 AM   #1
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This is a thread that was originally part of a different thread, but really needed to be split off as its own...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurora
I don't believe that a chain smoker is qualified to judge flavors or quality of foods.
Many of the world great chefs are smokers.

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Old 05-02-2006, 09:27 AM   #2
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What in the world does smoking have to do with food. Comments like this just make me wonder. If person likes smoking so let him, smoke. I don't, but it doesn't mean I don't know anything about food.

I think they had that show on Food network few years ago. Or maybe it is similar. I like Tony, he is just way cool and food he has eaten I wouldn't dare to touch (and I've had some strange foods, believe me). Unfortunately, I do not have travel channel now to see it.
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieD
What in the world does smoking have to do with food. Comments like this just make me wonder. If person likes smoking so let him, smoke. I don't, but it doesn't mean I don't know anything about food.
I will gladly tell you... and by the way this comes from a guy who founded and operated a successful casual gourmet restaurant...

The chefs who smoke have a distorted flavor sense. Over time they tend to use too much salt, and mis-season in ther ways. In other ways a smoking chef is a PITA for a restaurant owner. He/she stinks up the kitchen, takes too many breaks, lets the staff down as a leader, and raises my costs.

Other than that- I don't care if someone smokes or not- just not the guy who is cooking my meal.
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:36 AM   #4
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I think those are over generalizations Hopz. Lots of great chefs are smokers and they consistently put our excellent food that is not over seasoned or anything.

I used to smoke, a pack a day, and it did not affect my taste at all. When I quit I was so excited that food was going to start tasting better. Boy was I disappointed when food tasted exactly the same.

Lets also not forget that what is too heavily seasoned for one person is under seasoned for someone else.
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:44 AM   #5
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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.

i can't answer about seasoning food, tho, but in my experience it would seem to follow.
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Old 01-02-2007, 01:08 PM   #6
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My dad smoked heavily. He always apologized when he over salted something that he had prepared for me, and blamed it on the cigarrettes, which he stated, made it so that he didn't taste the salt as well. With other flavorings, he did well by my tastes.

I have the advantage of being a non-smoker, and a guy who is used to evaluating everything. As I think about my past, and my present, I find that my sensetivity to salt has changed through the years. It takes much more salt to fire my taste buds than it once did. Occasionally, I find that my family says I have over-salted foods. And yet, I dont' and never have smoked. My eldest daughter rarely uses salt in her cooking, and is to me, hyper-sensitive to salty things.

From these observations, I hypothesize that sensitivity to salt is governed by the amount of salt consumed, just as a person can desensitize themselves to the affects of capsaicum. That is, people who use salt tend to need more over a period of time to taste the same level of saltiness. The same may be true for other flavors as well.

I find that foods that were at one time overpowering, and disliked for that reason became favorites as I grew older. Flavors such as carraway seed in rye bread, and horseradish, both of which I truly dispised as a child, are favorite flavors now, and probably becasue my sensitivty to those flavors is diminished.

In summary, though smoking does appear to mess with the nose, flavors that are basic to the toungue, such as minerals and salts, don't seem to be affected as much by smoke as they do by desenstization of the tongue through repeated exposure to the flavor. At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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Old 01-02-2007, 01:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North

From these observations, I hypothesize that sensitivity to salt is governed by the amount of salt consumed, just as a person can desensitize themselves to the affects of capsaicum. That is, people who use salt tend to need more over a period of time to taste the same level of saltiness.
That is my observation as well.

I will agree with the others that some and maybe even most smokers will not be able to taste things as well as non smokers. I just think that a good chef knows how to compensate for that. Notice I said "good chef", because there certainly are chefs out there who do not.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:51 PM   #8
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To contribute my two bits' worth, although I do not have an opinion that derives from direct personal experience with smoking, we used to employ once a chef who was a heavy smoker. It is definitely true that his dishes were often oversalted.
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:36 PM   #9
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A good Chef can still be a good leader, I don't get the comment of " being a bad team leader". If he/she is a professional, they won't be out back puffing on a butt every chance they get, they will wait till the appropriate time.

Like GB, I used to smoke, but do not anymore. I have worked with and for MANY chefs smoke, and in the industry, it seemed like I was in the minority, as a non smoker. I have worked with older chefs who didn't smoke and tended to be very heavy handed with seasonings, in part that their palate was shot, not due to smoking, nut just age and eating habits.

Though I choose not to smoke, there will ALWAYS be smokers, regardless of the health issues. And so long as there is a restaurant industry, there WILL be smokers(among other vices), and if they can get my food out, it tastes great, and the wash up after smoking, it won't bother me. And i would rather smell the smoker in the kitchen then the all ways hung over guy that stinks like day old beer, and body oder.
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Old 01-02-2007, 04:10 PM   #10
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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, so there is no reason to say that a chef who smoked should not be "qualified" to judge the quality or flavors of food. I'm sure some have experienced a difference, but as one who has not, I say that no one can "judge" one smoker against another.

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Old 01-02-2007, 05:47 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, 05:50 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....
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
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, 06:23 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.
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:29 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, 06:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
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.
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Old 01-02-2007, 07:26 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, 08:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
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.
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:20 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, 09:39 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.
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