June 1st, 2017

Chef McCue’s Top 7 Teaching Moments

  1. The Legend of Princess Broccoli

McCue 7 teaching moments broccoli

We had a beautiful roasted chicken entrée with simply buttered broccoli on the menu that day. One of my cooks began at his task, prepping broccoli, that’s all, broccoli, two cases, five hours from now, on the line, ready to go. His body language screamed he was not thrilled at the lackluster task of simple veg prep. “C’mon Princess,” I said to him, and “Princess” really did sum up his attitude toward the banality of the task.

Service quickly approached, and I looked around his station expecting to see some boiling water, maybe an ice bath. Nothing. “Are you telling me that you’ve been here for nearly five hours working on that broccoli and you never put the water on?” My voice was steadily on the rise. “Five hours and you chopped broccoli. That’s it!” He tried to recover and quickly boil the broccoli, but too late. And yet, still he presented it to me, saying, “All set, Chef. Ready for service.” That was it for me. “Ready? This is ready? Look at that poor broccoli, Princess! Ruined!” So I ushered him out of my kitchen as the rest of the crew scrambled to make up for his indifference.

Lesson: Don’t be apathetic about your work.

CIA instructor David McCue is known throughout the college as a master storyteller, and his blog posts—presented with flair and a sharp wit—are the stuff of legend. Here are seven of his most memorable teaching moments.