The Price of Experience

There is an old yarn that has made the rounds, even as far as Snopes. About an engineer, a hammer, and the price of knowing where to hit. I’ve had a similar experience today but without the most successful outcome for the project manager.

A colleague, for reasons I dare not speculate upon, decided to arrange the catering for a BBQ by themselves, instead of through the catering department. They booked the BBQ area, and ordered frozen burgers and sausages from a local wet market vendor. They also arranged buns from the supermarket. 

Today, with the city being dredged by rain and a cold snap approaching, the colleague, with some chagrin came to me asking if I could now cook the food for them in our state of the art kitchens. I of course gently agreed. 

The goods were delivered along with the COD invoice, so I had a quick glance of the provided quality and price. While I would have charged similar (via my wholesale vendors) I would have provided much better quality.

The burgers were not even burgers, but rather tubes of frozen, low-quality, minced beef (maybe from Brazil) that was cut on a bandsaw into disks. The sausages were common HK-style HK-made “cumberland” sausages full of suspicious E-numbers, grease, and suspiciously absent of flavour.  Really too bad because now I am handling product I would never have willingly bought, and I fear the taint of it will stick to me and my operation.

In a similar vein a former pop star has rebrand himself into a celebrity “chef”…with the help of at least one other celebrity “chef.” Some chef-friends were rightly dismissive of his lack of skill and knowledge as displayed on a promotional video. But of course he is not a chef, and I felt the need to remind even them of the fact that our vocation takes years of careful, mindful, practice to master.

Sure, one has to pay for the hammer, but one also has to take the time, often decades, to carefully and confidently know when and where to hit it.  Or, who to call to buy actual burgers, and how to know what you are getting is a burger and not a slice of tube steak. 


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