We should start by talking about the pressure of cooking for the public. When one of the waiters of the  restaurant River Café, quickly went through the kitchen doors to inform its chef, Charlie McCubbin, that the British food critic Adrian Anthony Gill had described the food of the establishment as simply "disgusting", the cook exploded, insulting and seriously assaulting the astonished ' messenger ', whom he ended up locking up in the basement, in the wine cellar. This is how the journalist Xanthe Clay begins his Insights on the repercussion that the gastronomic criticisms can have on the restaurants subjected to them, in a recent article published last Tuesday, August 16 in the British newspaper The Telegraph

Today, the cook and chef have become friends and colleagues again. For his part, AA Gill has modified his criticism, finely praising the premises - an article that appears on the walls of the River Café - and McCubbin has managed to get rid of a possible judicial sentence of at least 18 months, for assault.

The 'Gordon Ramsay example'

All's well that ends well, we might think. But it is inevitable to analyze two questions. One of them is the violence generated inside the kitchens of the restaurants under pressure, a subject that we began to look at when Gordon Ramsay made it public on his television show 'La Cocina del Infierno'.

In fact, McCubbin himself admitted, throughout his judicial process, that this situation existed: “I have been compared to Gordon Ramsay, but, to be honest, sometimes I think that I make him look even good.

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That's the problem. Ramsay, considered a God among chefs, made the workplace a kind of 'intimidating state'. He was a character with an image of macho, cool, and apparently this attitude had earned him three Michelin Stars. Ambitious new ambitious chefs grew up, passed the traditional norms imposed by management, and kitchens became wilder than ever.

Violence aside, it is interesting to appreciate the power of the inspectors, or gastronomic critics, who managed to make Ramsay, this self-proclaimed 'tough chef', lose his prestige in such a fast and spectacular way. Going a little further, why are external reviews so concerned with restaurants?

It's easy to see that chefs are constantly concerned about this issue. It is not just a matter of ego, although many of them have enough to say in this regard.

Full tables guarantee

The bottom line is that good criticism assumes that an restaurant is full, that same night and that the reservations increase dramatically, because most of the clients prefer to eat in a place full of people. A bad review, however, leaves the place empty. So if the cooks value their survival, they will try to make the critics walk away delighted.

But why do we pay so much attention to what food critics say? Deep down, whether or not to enjoy a good meal is something completely subjective: what for one may be a too overdone vegetable, for others it may be an extraordinary dish. Just because whoever wrote the article likes it, should I be excited?

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The reality is that the experience that restaurant whoever writes about gastronomy perceives it is not the same that we grasp. Years ago, the critics were all like a sort of Michelin Guide inspector. They went to a local, ate discreetly as one more customer and later expressed their opinion.

Every day easier to identify

It is also true that those responsible for restaurants They learned to identify them quickly: a table reserved for two, which is then only attended by one diner, an excessive request for avocados for one person, absolute seriousness and little reaction to any approach attempt…. They didn't have a notebook in sight, but it wasn't necessary either.

However, nowadays, as much as an inspector or critic wants to make a reservation under a fictitious name, technological advances mean that any local has access to their image and has, in the back room, their photos hanging on a wall, in full view of all employees. This is not to mention those who continually come out commenting on cooking on prime-time television programs.

Surely when one of these well-known characters enters the door of a restaurant, they do not serve the same as the others. The mere fact of their presence makes everything different. The 'uncertainty principle' works, gastronomically, like a bomb. The waiters will dance around him, the chef will be happy to take out those 'little extra details' that are not available to other mortals and the manager of the room must retreat every five minutes to a hidden corner to overcome the attack of craving to which you are subjected. 

Article published on Aug. 19, 2011
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I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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