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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85 Questions


Last Answer on March 14, 2013

Best Rated

Have you ever worked in a restaurant where they saved uneaten food from one customer and served it to the next one?

Asked by boris not natasha over 8 years ago

Eww, yuck no. I wouldn't ever work in a place like that. The cooks and I might have a piece of meat that was sent back as overdone and not touched, but no. My dad told me story, when I was younger, about getting a toothpick in his food once, and how disgusting that was. It made quite an impression on me!

When a restaurant gets a negative review in a high-profile publication like the NYT, is there an immediate and noticeable drop in business? Can a single high-profile bad review of a restaurant be the kiss of death?

Asked by KenBartam over 8 years ago

Hi Ken, I've seen that happen here in the San Francisco bay area. There was a restaurant that got such bad reviews that it got no stars, just a square. It had been a money maker too. I knew one of the waiters that used to work there. She told me she and another waiter from that same restaurant got audited by the IRS because something in their tax returns roused suspicion, that their numbers looked suddenly too low. They went in for an interview, and she pulled out the bad review of the once thriving restaurant. The IRS let them go.

How do you feel about services like Yelp? It can be tough to tell which reviews are legitimate when there are so many "best ever!" and "worst ever!" reviews for the same restaurant!

Asked by 1 man 1 bike over 8 years ago

Hi 1 man, From what I've seen with Yelp, I think the reviews pretty much jibe with the goodness of the food. Of course, there will always be one or two naysayers, but if the reviews are gushinginly positive overall, I will go. I haven't had a bad experience yet with any restaurant that has gotten at least 4 1/2 stars yet. I don't mess with any restaurants that have less than that!

Why is salad served BEFORE the entree? If the entree is the focus of the meal, isn't it more important that the customer eat that when his appetite is greatest? It's a shame when someone finishes the salad but is too full to finish the entree.

Asked by 7fifty7 over 8 years ago

Hi 7, Not sure if that is an American custom because I've seen in Europe where they serve the salad after. They do eat smaller portions there, so it works for them. I suspect here in America it's because people HAVE to eat their vegetables before the main event or else they won't eat them. It's hard to get people to eat their veggies sometimes. Can you split the salad with someone, so you'll have more room for the entree?

Are the 'gold flakes' that you see in some dessert dishes ACTUALLY real gold? How is it treated / prepared to make it edible?

Asked by jorge123 over 8 years ago

Hi jorge, I have seen people actually use real gold. Whether or not it's all real gold, as they claim, remains to be seen, but yes, I've seen pastry chefs use gold. Small amounts are supposedly edible. I'm not sure how they prepare it; I just thought they just made it very, very thin so that it could be worked.

Is it true that you should never order the specials, because that's the stuff that's been sitting around awhile and the restaurant is trying to get rid of it?

Asked by D. Mouse over 8 years ago

I would have to say there is some truth to that. We once had some leftover smoked duck breast and membrillo allioli. Someone got the bright idea to put it together in a sandwich with arugula. It was yummy! So I suppose there are varying degrees of how gross this could get. :)

Do you train your waiters how to describe dishes to customers? Are all your waiters required to have tried everything on the menu?

Asked by anthony over 8 years ago

Hi Anthony, I always wanted the waitstaff to taste the food so they can describe for themselves the dishes rather than using some rote words I provided. I can always tell when I go into a restaurant when the description comes from experience or from memorization. The waitstaff I worked with were usually pretty knowledgeable, so I left it up to them to describe the dishes. I like hearing enthusiasm about a dish rather than some words the chef told them to say. But of course, I always let them know the ingredients in the dish. :)