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Insights from Chefs on Tipping, Diners, and the Restaurant Industry

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In the fast-paced and high-pressure world of professional kitchens, chefs are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to deliver delicious dishes to diners around the world. But what do these chefs really think about tipping, diners, and the industry as a whole? We reached out to some top chefs to get their insights on these questions and more.

Hajime Sato, with a simple but profound statement, emphasizes the importance of hiring individuals who are passionate and dedicated to their craft. Tim Hollingsworth shares a pivotal moment in his career when he raised concerns with his mentor, Thomas Keller, about his workload. This willingness to communicate and seek support is crucial in an industry as demanding as professional cooking.

Jeffery Harris highlights the importance of creating a supportive work environment for his team, making them feel valued and safe in their roles. Justin Pioche recalls a valuable lesson from his mentors about treating all team members with respect, emphasizing the significance of every role in a kitchen. Diana Dávila sheds light on the challenges of providing healthcare to employees and the financial implications for restaurant owners.

David Utterback touches on the personal sacrifices and physical toll that comes with a career in the kitchen, expressing concerns about retirement and long-term sustainability. Yun Fuentes acknowledges the challenges of running a restaurant amidst rising costs but remains committed to delivering exceptional dining experiences for guests. David Chang calls for a candid assessment of the industry’s financial realities and high attrition rates, questioning the sustainability of a career in cooking.

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These insights offer a glimpse into the daily struggles and aspirations of chefs in the culinary industry. Despite the challenges they face, these chefs remain dedicated to their craft and committed to providing exceptional dining experiences for their guests. The next time you dine out, take a moment to appreciate the hard work and passion that goes into preparing your meal behind the scenes.

In conclusion, the world of professional kitchens is a complex and demanding environment, but chefs continue to strive for excellence and innovation in their craft. Their perspectives on tipping, diners, and the industry reveal the challenges and rewards of a career in culinary arts. Next time you dine out, remember to show your appreciation for the hardworking chefs who make it all possible.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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