Chef Mil

Berkeley, CA

Female, 49

I have been working in restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years (two of the restaurants had been in the SF Chronicle's Top 100 Restaurants). I have cooked mostly Mediterranean food, but have some experience with Asian food. I went to cooking school, and worked my way up from being a prep cook (think--prepping 3 cases of artichokes, de-boning 100 quail, and juicing a case of lemons!) to being a chef at a well known restaurant in my area. And no, I am not the yelling type! :)

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93 Questions


Last Answer on March 14, 2013

Best Rated

How many sous chefs do you have, and what do you look for when you hire them? Do you want them to be independent and creative, or to just be really good at following orders?

Asked by 84Bears over 11 years ago

Hi 84Bears, Thanks for the interesting question! I had one sous chef. When I think about what I look for in a sous chef, I think about him. Can you tell that I admire him a lot? Anyway, he has the best knife skills I'd ever seen as he started out in a Japanese restaurant making sushi. He is very creative, and put many items on the menu. He worked in an Italian restaurant for many years, and so he had that Mediterranean knowledge too. I would like the sous to be well rounded, hence the Asian and Mediterranean is valuable to me. He also has to be a teacher to the rest of the kitchen staff, have an impeccable palate, plate food beautifully, keep high standards, be dependable, keep me informed of any problems, and so very trustworthy. An easy question to answer as I've been lucky to work with such a sous chef!

Do you get to interact directly with customers much? Do you think chefs *should* interact more with customers than they typically do, to get first-hand feedback?

Asked by FunMunkey1 over 11 years ago

Hello FunMunkey1, Oh yes! I liked to walk around the dining room when it wasn't so busy (the restaurant was really noisy when the room was full), look at the customer's plates, say hello to them and ask how everything was, and if possible, converse with them. I got to know a lot of regulars that way. There was one couple in their 80's that would come in at noon on Mondays. It was wonderful to be around them as they were still very much in love. They had met during WW II when he was an injured pilot and she was his nurse. I shared many meals with them at different restaurants in the area. There was another couple that would come in regularly. He was always trying to get me to drink his martini with him! Another woman who came in almost every day told me that coming to the restaurant helped her get over her divorce. Anyway, I guess you can tell that I think chefs should interact with customers for feedback and even more! Thanks for the question. :)

As a chef do you prefer to cook for yourself or to be cooked for?

Asked by Kelly almost 12 years ago

Hi Kelly, Both, actually! When I used to work at the restaurant full-time, we went out to eat a lot because I just couldn't bear to cook another thing. I love when people cook for me, but sadly, many people don't want to cook for me because they get intimidated. I just love showing up somewhere and having a plate a food pushed in my face! :)

Do you watch any of the TV cooking shows and what's your favorite? Would you ever try out for a show like Chopped?

Asked by InternetNeverSleeps almost 12 years ago

Hi INS, I used to watch Jamie Oliver's shows. I like him and his recipes work. I've seen Anthony Bordain's. I don't watch TV, but I keep telling myself to watch Top Chef. One of the waiters I used to work with worked with one of the contestants from San Francisco. I don't think I would like to be on TV. I was once on a "your backyard is so ugly we're going to do a tv show about it" show and I thought my "acting" was quite wooden! :)

Have you or anyone in your kitchen ever sustained any particularly gruesome injuries while on the job?

Asked by Notorious B.E.N. over 11 years ago

Hi Notorious, You should see my arms! When I tell folks I'm a chef, I like to use the scars on my arms as an illustration. I knew of someone that broke their arm in a Hobart mixer. I also knew of another chef that cut her hand badly while trying to cut butternut squash. I heard of a cook who had climbed up on the shelves in the walk-in that ended up putting his foot in some boiling hot stock. They had to cut the shoe off. It was bad. Pretty gruesome, eh? Update 3/10/13 I just cut off the tip of my thumb about a week ago. I had to go to the emergency room, and wasn't able to work for a week. I had gone over 20+ years of cooking without any serious injuries until now.

What's a fast food chain that you think creates great food (quality ingredients, healthy menu, etc)?

Asked by bingham over 11 years ago

Hi bingham, I don't know if this fast food chain is healthy, but I like In and Out Burger. They cut their own potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce. They don't use the bestest cuts of beef, but I like the taste of their burgers and fries! Have you ever been? Personally, I love hamburgers and fries.

Why do chefs wear tall hats?

Asked by Maddy1 over 11 years ago

Hi Maddy, Thanks for the question. I had to think about this as I've only worn the tall chef hat when I was in cooking school. I think it's partly a French custom and mostly practicality. It prevents hair from getting in the food, and I think the hat band catches sweat. I know the sweat part sounds gross but when you're working with a grill to your left, a broiler, a stove top, and an oven blasting away at 500 degrees, it gets pretty hot in the kitchen!