I Trained As A Michelin Star Chef | Lucie For Hire | Refinery29

I Trained As A Michelin Star Chef | Lucie For Hire | Refinery29

I’m Lucie Fink, I’m a video producer at Refinery29, but every so often, I like to try other people’s jobs. Today, I’m in Greenwich Village at Nix, to see if I have what it takes to be a Michelin star chef. This is When my viewers first asked me to try becoming a chef for the day, I knew that to really make things interesting, I needed to go above and beyond. So, why learn how to become a chef just anywhere, when I could instead get myself into the kitchen of Michelin star restaurant and learn from the best. Receiving a Michelin star is an honor. It’s a stamp of fine dining quality and exceptional cuisine. I visited Nix, a vegetarian restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village that, believe it or not, is the only veggie restaurant in the US with a Michelin star. I met with the sous chef, Jamie, to learn more about the restaurant’s philosophy, and also, the career path to becoming a chef. The fact that we’re vegetable-driven is very exciting, because we can buy and highlight what’s in season. You don’t need to have fancy wagyu beef, or caviar, all of these things that people associate with fine dining, like, you don’t need that. You can cook vegetables, and you can cook them super well, and still give the guests an awesome experience. As a sous chef, you can expect to make, salary-wise, anywhere from $35,000 to maybe $50,000, but that’s on the higher end. Lot of work for a little bit of money, but if it’s your passion, you just do it. My first challenge of the day was learning. Before I could even set foot in the kitchen, I needed a quick crash course in produce. Jamie and I took a quick walk to the Union Square Green Market, the year-round outdoor market where she and her fellow chefs often come to support local farms. This time of year is the best time to come to the market. Everything’s fresh, everything’s seasonal. Corn is in season, we use corn in our one kale salad. We have a cold melon soup on the lunch menu. Spring/summer, you start getting a lot of leafy green vegetables. How do you tell if a tomato is good? Firm skin, firm flesh, but not too firm. Flavor-wise, whenever we create something we try and hit all of those notes on your tongue, so we’re looking for salty, we’re looking for sweet, we’re looking for sour, we’re looking for, essentially, umami, all of those different flavors at once. My second challenge was prep work. Jamie gave me a chef’s apron of my own. And just like that, I was part of the kitchen crew. Is this the kind of place where I have to say, “Yes, Chef!” Yes. Okay. An order came in from the dining room. Ribbons of jicama, eggplant dip, and tandoor bread. We washed our hands and began the prepping process. So we’ll grab a cutting board and we’ll get to work. The ribbons of jicama dish is mostly raw with the exception of some fried shallots. We have our heat element, we have the sweet element, we have acid. And keeping these veggies raw are gonna give a nice texture. Jamie taught me some expert knife work. That is a big knife. Ahh! You’re holding your knife wrong. Oh, gosh! It’s more of, like, a slicing motion that you’re pulling the knife towards you. Yes, beautiful. And we’re creating flags, if you will. How are my flags? Perfect. You’re hired. I got the job. You want to be fast and efficient, but you also want to maintain your knife cuts and make sure that everything is nice and consistent as well. We then sliced the Fresno peppers. You did great on this challenge, look at these. Perfect. Chopped the red onion. My little guys! And supremed the blood oranges. We remove the flesh, and then we’re just taking out each individual segment of the orange. Look! That’s my cut. Then, it was on to the jicama. And this is one of those vegetables that I was unfamiliar with until I started working here. Yeah. Kind of opened my eyes to a lot of veggies I’ve never experienced before. Jicama is a root vegetable that Jamie described as a cross between an apple and a water chestnut. We cleaned up the outside, and then using a ribboning machine, created long, fresh ribbons. And crank it! Oh no! Jicama down! There we go. Now she’s got it. Okay. Now she lost it. But we did get some beautiful ribbons. Nice! The eggplant dip prep involved stabbing the eggplant to prep it for the blitzing process. So we do this so that when it’s on the oven, it doesn’t explode. It gives the steam a chance to escape. That’s it for the prep work, and now it’s time to do some cooking and assemble our final products here. My third challenge was cooking. One of the most important characteristics to have, personality-wise, working in a kitchen, is being resilient. You work with a lot of different personalities, you’re constantly under high stress, and it’s a very fast-paced environment. Thankfully, Jamie was very kind to me, and I wasn’t yelled at on the line, but I did realize how quickly things need to move in the kitchen in order to keep things flowing. This is like, as real as it gets, like, everything’s happening at once. For the ribbons of jicama dish, all that needed to be cooked were the shallots. Light dusting in the flour, and then we’ll go right into the fryer. Jamie taught me how to fry them. Any time we work with a fryer, it’s hot. You want to go away from your body, just in case if it happens to splatter. And then left me on my own to fry the second batch. Away from your body, into the oil. There was a little bit of a plop. And if I thought that process was dangerous, I had no idea what was coming for me. We placed the eggplants on a rack above the 700-degree tandoor oven, and let them blitz. Keep rotating, and we’re looking until they get soft. Once they were done, we quickly removed them. Eggplant down. It’s okay. I’m so sorry. Let them cool, and scraped them. So now we’ll do that about 200 more times. Afterwards, we went downstairs to make the dip. Moving around in an active kitchen can be very dangerous. I learned that you need to shout when you’re coming around a corner, or going up and down the stairs, to announce yourself. Corner. Going up. Corner. Going down! Down! With the giant mixing machine, we mixed our charred eggplant with all the veggies we chopped, some roasted pine nuts, Looks a little like cake batter. raisins, and more. Red wine vinegar, add some salt, and we’ll just let that go until everything is incorporated. And then it was time for the real test. The most dangerous part of the day: making bread in the tandoor oven. I have to say, I’m really nervous for this
part. The kitchen can be a remarkably threatening place. If you’re not careful, or you don’t follow proper directions, you can get seriously injured. So I have some pretty gnarly scars here, these are some battle wounds. These are from the tandoor oven. The oven runs about 700-800 degrees, so pretty hot. Pretty intense. The first time I ever worked that station, I singed my eyebrows off. The top is hot, inside is hot, just be very… The air is hot. Jamie’s colleagues had already prepped the dough for us, so we began by activating it. We turned it upside down onto a little pillow, spritzed it with water so that it would stick to the oven. And we’re ready to go into the oven. And then she showed me the technique for reaching your arm into the 700-degree oven and sticking the bread to the outside wall. I’m absolutely terrified of what you just did. I believe in you. I had never been more nervous to do anything on a Lucie for Hire episode before. I’ve now put my hand just above it, and it is threatening. I thought I would burn my arm, lose my eyebrows, you name it. Gotta conquer your fear, you just gotta go for it. Okay. But I removed my rings, took a deep breath… In and out, in and out, real quick. One, two… And just went for it. Okay, almost. Kinda got it. Okay, so my technique needed some work, but with a little follow up push from Jamie, my bread stuck to the wall and cooked nicely. So now, you’re gonna remove it, so you’re gonna take… This is the easy part, the hardest part is putting the bread in. Okay. Using a hook and scraper, I went in to remove my bread, but of course, had a minor mishap and a brief moment of panic. Got it! You caught it? Wait, I need you to take this! I got it. And I put it on a plate. There you go, you did it. Oh, my gosh. But when all was said and done, my tandoor bread came out beautifully. Still got your arm hairs, still got your eyebrows. Yeah, got all hair, right? Good, good! Woo! My final challenge was plating. When I think about Michelin star restaurants, the first thing that comes to my mind is the plating. That beautiful, artistic arrangement of food that really sets one restaurant apart from another. We plated up the bread and eggplant dip, and then moved on to the big ticket item: the ribbons of jicama. This dish is magnificently arranged in such a way that the jicama stands upright. And the whole key here is, we want it to stand up, to look beautiful, and this is like, the tedious part. Creating these beautiful ribboned walls on the plate. The additional items are then slowly, one at a time, very deliberately placed on the plate. And that’s it, that’s our ribbons of jicama plated up. The edge of the dish is wiped off for an impeccable presentation, and then, the dish is served. Order up. Kitchens used to be very intense in that sense where it was like, a male-driven, like, bro club, but I think finally the industry has progressed forward from that, where now you’re realizing that, hey, it’s nice to be nice. You can accomplish the same results, not necessarily screaming at someone the whole time. Okay, so we were actually the ones who put in this food order, but now, it was time to eat it. It’ll taste even better, because you made it. I know! We sat down together, and enjoyed the fruits, and vegetables of our labor. Can I double dip? Go right ahead. We’re friends now. We are. Overall, for your first time, great. Your knife skills are there, just a little bit more practice, just a little improvement on the bread, honestly. But again, that takes practice, and just conquering your fear of sticking your arm in a hot-ass oven, you know? This was a long, hot, fast-paced, and slightly dangerous day for me. But by the end, I felt accomplished, and very proud of the work we’d done. This is really amazing. Delicious. At the end of the day, a Michelin star chef is doing a job pretty similar to mine as a video producer. They’re making art, creating something visual that’s going to draw people in. The major difference is that this working environment is a little more chaotic than mine. Let me know what jobs you want to see me try next time, and we’ll see you then, on Lucie for Hire. Hey, YouTube! Thanks for watching this video. Click here to watch another video on Refinery29’s YouTube channel, here to subscribe to us and join our family, and here for my personal YouTube channel. See ya!

100 thoughts on “I Trained As A Michelin Star Chef | Lucie For Hire | Refinery29”

  1. I am so envious of what your were able to do for those few hours! You are awesome Lucy!
    But keep in mind that someone who is called CHEF DE CUISINE only learned everything about food and running kitchens through work experiences. However, a CHEF DE CUISINE DIPLOME is somebody who studied Culinary Arts or may even have Master's Degree or Ph. D.

  2. Trying working as a janitor. I worked as one when I was younger and I’ve got so much more respect for the people that do it. Even when I use public bathrooms and I see how some people leave them dirty and think about how it’s such an under appreciated job

  3. (gonna be that guy…but Kajitsu in NYC is totally vegan and also has a michelin star, has had one for a while) that being said, Nix is one of my faves while kajistu is a wild experience

  4. 9:53 pff, i dont agree.. some chefs are perfectionists and can make the work more tense, stop portraying masculinity as a bad thing….

  5. A day ? At least give it a week or two. Working long hours from day to day without off-days, that's the real experience.

  6. If I owned a well established restaurant I can guarantee it would not be rated by Michelin. In Fact if they awarded me any stars Id refuse them. I don't care what Michelin says " You cant give stars back" Id just publicly denounce Michelin and reassure my guests that michelin has no rating over us and that we let our guests rate us, I can guarantee if the staff are good it will save the food and any bad experience the guest might have.

    Id treat my guests like you'd treat your in laws over an engagement dinner. Id cater to their every desire/need. But I would never let Michelin rate my menu or establishment id refuse to actually let Michelin review my venue!

    And if they actually rated my fine dining experience id just as quickly react by informing my guests through the menu or other means that we do not condone the Michelin rating system and if given three stars not to judge us upon those three stars because we do not recognize them nor do we accept them but to judge us by your experience because we plan to have you leaving over joyed!

    Ive worked at fine establishments like spoken above and ill tell you the menu is hurt tremendously by a Michelin rating system only allowing certain foods to be on the menu which are considered fine dining…..

    I find that truly upsetting as certain foods are pretty much black barred/banned from the menu. I have a very unpopular opinion as well that steaks are food for peasants who cant afford the meat to be cooked and dressed. I find steak to be a big slab of meat with no real thought into how its presented a cheeseburger looks more appealing atleast its a finished product! Steak seems like a half done job and I really despise people who eat steak and insist on it being pink/bloody. ( DO YOU KNOW WHAT COOKED FOOD IS) I once had a chef who knew I hated steak make a burger for me instead, I ended up with a fucking bloody mess! He thought it was more appealing to serve it medium rare then well done…

    I understand some people want their meat cooked barely… if at all but I am of the human race and not a blood sucking vampire which thrives on raw meat I threw that son of a bitch in the trash… it was a 22 dollar burger could have fooled me…. I thought it was trash.

    Steak is not fine dinning…. I dont care who you are or how aged the steak is I really dont care, steaks are bottom of the barrel right down there with sushi… another form of uncooked food I find distasteful.

    After going through a tedious menu for 3 star Michelin rating I found no Tacos….. I say again no fucking tacos… of any form. If steak is considered fine dining , Tacos must be heaven sent cause they're more elegant than a steak which is just a slab of beef. Might as well just hand them the steak with no plate… and let them go cave man all over it thats my honest opinion.

    You couldnt get me to rsvp a table at a well known restaurant even if you paid me and flipped the bill. I always find their menus lack luster if they have a Michelin star just so they can keep their star.

  7. So, the way to actually avoid burning yourself when using a Tandoor is to actually wet your arms. The pros in India wet their arms every 2 or 3 pastings of bread into the Tandoor.

  8. This must filmed at the day that restaurant off. As some one who worked in kitchen before the kitchen is just so quite. No hitting sounds, no screaming, no F word. This is not a real kitchen lol

  9. Its progress to put a lady in a restarant kitchen but evil even when you put her in a house kitchen. Lmao
    Jk. have a lil laugh.

  10. beautiful and good looking chef, but she needs to take that shit out of her nose. That's fucking gross for a chef! Better to get a few really cool tats!

  11. You dont train to be a Michelin star Chef. You train as a fine Chef and create food that earns a Michelin star. Chef's dont earn Michelin stars, their food earns the Stars. I will never hire anyone wearing a nose ring. It is a distraction. Make your statement with your food, not with your appearance.

  12. Working in a kitchen is pretty tough and when working in a michelin star kitchen one would think that you achieved something special. And then 35-50k?
    I feel like working in a not michelin star kitchen means you almost have to get a second job!? But you havent got the time for that…

    What I said is based on my believe that someone working in a michelin star kitchen earns more than someone in a "normal" kitchen. Maybe Im wrong

  13. I would quit if you walked in to my kitchen. You don't belong there. My job is not a circus act just because you have personally recognized that heat makes food hot. I feed ,you kids with this job. It's not serviced well by your video. And our job is MUCH more precise under pressure than your job has ever been. You wanna understand other jobs? Work…listen. 5 years minimum.

  14. You look like that girl ruby who has the music video called ruby rock.
    I love your videos keep up the great work and have a great day.

  15. Simple question from a broke guy who will probably never even walk by a Michelin star restaurant: How does one eat this stuff!? I mean when I have ribbony stuff stood up on my plate, I wouldn't know how to approach it! I also wouldn't know which part is the actual food and which part is the garnish unless it's something really obvious.

  16. My mom also do recipes like this every day… I think lots of housewife doing something like this. But down people accused then to be lazy… But they don't know I have a restaurant in my home. #respectforchefsandmoms

  17. Awww cmon, that is a Michelin restaurant, how come you allow her to lick the orange and still using a ring when prepping

  18. Next time try working a lunch or dinner rush! People quickly realize just how much chefs bust their ass after they witness one chaotic rush. Great job with this video though! Glad to see you going into a kitchen with a positive mindset! 🙂

  19. I really liked this video! As someone who has been spending 70% of her time working in kitchens for the past 3 years, I think this is a great way to show how much we work. I did almost died when I saw her working with jewelry on and how the chef never told her to take it off, that's a big no in the kitchens

  20. i think it's cute she's proud of the second degree burns she got from tandoor. here in the US we have something called workers compensation and you get paid to recover from injuries that occurred on the job. i get that kitchens are fast paced and many workers place speed over their own health however it is legally the job's responsibility to provide safety to workers in dangerous tasks. if everyone turns a blind eye at least give them $ under the table for stuff like that^

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