When we saw the menu for Ilan Hall's The Gorbals, we couldn't help but think the Top Chef Season 2 winner's team might require liquid inspiration to pull together the downtown restaurant's weird and wonderful tangle of Scottish, Jewish, and Spanish flavors. Tucked in there with the GLT, a mayo-slicked sandwich of chicken skin, tomato, and lettuce, beef tongue confit with Romesco, and a $43 roast half pig's head diners are helpfully advised to "share," is a $10 dish called "Buy the kitchen a round of beers."
What, we wondered, did this mean? If you buy the kitchen beer, do they send out an extra dish as a gesture of thanks? Do you get your picture pasted up on the wall, like when you eat 100 shrimp at Red Lobster? When your check arrives, do the cooks come stumbling over to sing Simple Minds songs in Yiddish? What really happens when you buy the kitchen a round of beers? We dug up Hall's digits and shot him a text. The answer arrived in our voicemail a few days later, and it wasn't surprising.
The cooks drink beer.
"All the beers go to our cooks and dishwasher towards the end of service," said Hall. "Otherwise," he added, "They'd be quite drunk before the end of the night."
Would that be a bad thing though? Page 203 of the petrified 1975 edition of the Joy of Cooking we keep on our shelf shares a story supporting the theory that chefs cook better when they're drinking. The authors were eating at a hotel restaurant in a small town in Kentucky. "Light as thistledown," they wrote, in classic Rombauer-and-Becker-ese, to describe the cornmeal dumplings they were served. The owner came clean: When the cook was bombed, they were always that way--impossibly fluffy, practically ethereal, puffed out into the stratosphere by a few pulls off a bottle of Bulleit.