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  • Eyal Liebman | Private Chef

Tradition, Reflection & Transformation



Traditionally, you'll notice women's clothing does not have pockets.

Why? The formal excuses are somewhere between not letting them have space to conceal weapons and the fact that full pockets aren’t very flattering to their figures.


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Yes, I know the old “but this is how it's been done since forever” rhetoric is en route, so let me simplify:


Somewhere between the fear of women revenging their oppression by the patriarchy and women fulfilling their perpetual responsibilities to the arousal of men, a tradition of pocketless attire was born.


You can choose your excuse of preference!

Every profession is full of costumes and rituals, especially when we deal with the most ancient jobs in civilization, such as feeding other people.


But taking time away from my real craft and instead of talking about cheese on Zoom while searching for engaging social media content and merely existing as a non-binary human made me think a lot about the why's and how's of my craft: Food Service (and quite frankly the service industry as a whole) is docked in classism. So many of the practices within service industries only exist to create a stark difference between “us” and “them”. And so much of Western dining culture needs to change, especially considering we're guests on land that isn't ours, to begin with (but that’s for a whole other blog!). If a part of Food Service doesn’t serve a mean or elevate something in my art, it will be unlearned by my team & I.

It all started with a Facebook comment from one of my peers after I shared a plate with a napkin on the ‘wrong side.' Now if I had a dollar for the countless times I've watched clients look at the full array of metal objects surrounding their plates before dinner, staring with fear... at using the wrong fork? Or do we use a fork and knife duo? Do we move inside out or outside in?! This fear of being uncultured/being judged is present at many tables. But here's the honest truth: I (read: Chef) should be the only intimidating factor at your dinner - but only because as an only child I’m not that great at sharing any stage.



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To add to this idea of ludicrous: Some cutlery also didn't stand the same test of time as others. I have to admit that from a very young age, I've personally found salad forks terribly annoying. They might serve a good purpose for tiny-handed tyrants in the likes of Napoleon and Donald Trump, but for us regular hand size folk eating off a 12” plate, it makes no sense! But here we are, stressing about the small salad fork while dining. Why?



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Our team hired a Private Chef Service last year so we could go through what our clients go through from the other side, and then obviously learn from it and what not to do. At this dinner, Food Service was the responsibility of the Chef and I must admit, it really did hinder the experience. From taking the focus off the Chef's creations to having minimal time to engage with us in any way, it took away from the whole meaningful experience. I also hated the whole "keep your cutlery for four courses" thing - I could never tell where to rest my dirty utensils so as to not dirty the design of the table. And when I placed them on the plate, it was awkwardly in the way of clearing the table. Too much discomfort - on all the wrong things again!

From drinking the proper wine out of the proper glass (or my old vase vs decanter debate with Rebecca) to the rule of not discussing politics at the dinner table - there are so many "rules" we pick up as we grow up that we do not notice or question:


fortune cookie on plate
Politics at the Dinner Table - I tend to bring it all up!

1. Some traditions are there to put us at ease and comfort.

(read: feel pampered)


2. Others are there to put us at safety

(read: protect our privileged lives from being questioned)


3. And other traditions are there to separate the "cultured" from the "savages"


Whatever the reason, classism will have no place in my life.


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With Chef & Somm, you might have noticed some things about our Food Service: We change {used} cutlery with each course to avoid the awkward dance with the tablecloth. And if it’s not self-explanatory what utensil goes with what dish, we don't arrange it on the table to confuse people. We seek to provide every comfort in Food Service so that we can reserve every inch of discomfort for things worth the while - like politics, discussion, etc.


A Chef & Somm Table Setting by Designer Erica Boyes. Featuring Salad Forks.

To finish, I know a lot of ppl are afraid of cancel culture: 'They' label us as an over-sensitive generation. Well, I’m a Gen-X technically, But I was assigned a Millennial spirit and bank account balance so that's where I'll throw my lot.


But I truly believe it is time for us to become aware of and own a lot of the things we do on autopilot. Stop this nonsense of “but this is how it’s always been done” and start asking the real, meaningful questions so we can hear the real, meaningful answers!


Tweet by @brokeblackgirl_

I know the unknown road is very scary. But if we really look inward, the road we are all currently on is more of a circular toilet seat than a road - and not the gold-plated one used by the small salad fork wielders.


It is time for a change!