Posted on March 27, 2019

"Yes Chef!": A Young Chef's Story

By Executive Chef Matthew Gilbert

“Yes, Chef!”

That is a common cry you hear from a majority of fine dining kitchens across the world — the commander in chief of the restaurant being acknowledged for every command. Being a young chef, I do not expect the same treatment as chefs before me. A simple “got it,” or “no problem” suffices in my kitchen. The classic silent kitchen is practiced at Kevin’s during a busy dinner rush, but when it’s the middle of the afternoon and the kitchen is prepping for dinner, you will hear a mix of Phish, Snoop Dog, and heavy metal blasting through the kitchen doors.

You will never hear me yell at my own kitchen staff because they know, and do, what is expected of them. If there’s a member of my staff that I don’t believe can “hang,” I simply tell them the job is not for them. I have worked under many chefs, all with different styles of managing. I was able to create my own style experiencing what worked and didn’t work. I like to think of my managing skills as easygoing, caring, and hard working. I receive the utmost respect from the entire restaurant because of that — not because I instill fear. I strive to create a work atmosphere with the servers, managers, and cooks, where they all care about the same thing and work hard towards executing the dinner service night in and night out.

Now, my perfect little restaurant where everyone is nice and respectful does not happen overnight! There were many times where I’ve gotten “I’ve been cooking longer than you’ve been alive,” or “I could never respect someone your age.” I can write a whole blog on negative comments and things people have done to me in the past, but that will never happen. The negativity and disrespect will always try to poke its ugly head back into my work environment. With time and experience, I’ve learned how to stop and prevent all of that. By simply explaining why I am where I am, and show through actions I was born to lead.

Respect is earned. Especially in the kitchen. I can silence any hater once they see how I run my kitchen, and even more so once they taste my food.

To all the young chefs out there, stop worrying about age and focus more on finding your own style. No one is perfect; there is a ton of heartache along the way. Tell your crew every night before they leave thank you, and show you really appreciate them because you wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

When you come to eat at Kevin’s, you will not hear me screaming or pans smashing off the walls. You will, however, get a show on your plate, made with passion for the food and people eating it.