In an earlier post we listed 10 questions chefs should ask when people tell them they want to be a chef. Perhaps question 11 should be, 'Do you love monotonous tasks?,' because though the heat of restaurant service can be a thrill ride like no other, certain everyday chef duties can be arduous and painstakingly tedious beyond imagination, especially elements of mise en place, the process of getting everything prepared for service.
A long running thread on the ChefTalk forum asks chefs to share their pet hates when it comes to prepping and cooking. Unsuprisingly, the most hated chef duties involve some sort of fiddly action repeated ad nauseum. These are their answers:
9 Infuriating Mise en Place Tasks
"Deveining whole shrimp. Taking out the poop shoots from 200 shrimp make me never want to eat shrimp again ... yuk."
"Cleaning artichokes, peeling hard–boiled eggs, making crudité."
"Peeling shrimp and hardboiled eggs, picking fresh thyme and the rest of it are all part of cooking. But peeling 50 pounds of shrimp and peeling two cases of eggs is a boring task. Of all the ones I've done, prepping fresh artichokes seems the most work for the least return. I don't usually even buy them for home use."
"Boy do I hate prepping fresh thyme ... especially when they come in extra small leaves."
"If I have to think of things that were really annoying to do at work on my last job I would definitely say it was the cod, or Bacalhau as we call it here in Brazil. They come with a huge layer of salt that needs to be washed, then placed in a large vessel with water, wait a bit, and change the water. Re-fill the vessel and change the water again, after about 3 water changes, you must boil the fish. The problem is it was served in a salad (a salad that would be made at most 4-6 times a week) and you needed to shred the fish by hand for the salad. The small and large bones were annoying to do when shredding, that and you have to use gloves, the salty water would screw with the skin on my hands as well as leave them reaking [sic] for hours."
"Prepping conch can be a chore. My last restaurant featured Conch Fritters, and we prepped about 20 pounds of conch a day."
"Chopping fresh herbs de Provence."