MAKING LIFE MORE PALATABLE:
The seedy underbelly of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market that goes unnoticed
(I’m going to put all my cards on the table and be totally upfront and honest. These accounts are coming from my personal experiences at the market. I wasn’t and am not a restaurateur. I wasn’t a head chef or an owner. Shit, I wasn’t even a sous chef. I was just a lowly line-cook who was trying to learn from talented people and give 100%. The following accounts are my perceived truths…)
The Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market is like a high school cafeteria at lunchtime. To the untrained eye it may seem like normal hustle and bustle, but survey the scene with greater care and the ‘teenage’ cliques become glaringly apparent.
American Graffiti. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Breakfast Club. American Pie. Mean Girls. And many more.
This Netflix queue of greatness is the cinematic embodiment of the Los Angeles restaurant scene and goes on display every week on Arizona Avenue between Ocean and 4th from 8:30am to 1:30pm. I worked at one of the most well known restaurants in Los Angeles and we would buy the majority of our produce from this market. Almost every Wednesday morning I’d drag my ass out of bed, hating life after a long dinner service from the night before, and drive to what’s widely regarded as one of the best markets in the nation. Every Wednesday morning I went to the farmer’s market with some of my fellow line cooks, along with the owner and Chef de Cuisine of the restaurant we worked at. And every Wednesday I felt like I was an extra on the set of one of these movies. Or at the very least an extra on a cheap knock off parody of one of these movies.
In The Breakfast Club, there’s a Criminal, a Brain, a Basket Case, a Princess, and an Athlete. Down in Santa Monica we have…
‘Seniors’ or ‘Cool Kids’: These guys are too cool for school and by ‘guys’ I’m including the female chefs as well. They’ve been coming to the market for decades and are an institution in and of themselves. Think Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused. These are the chefs who can walk around like their shit don’t stink and everyone knows who they are — even non-kitchen people. This is the category my chefs would fall under, which leads me to the next clique…
‘Peripheral Cool Kids’: This is where I was during my tenure at the restaurant. I was the guy, behind the guy, behind the guy, behind the crate of tomatoes. I didn’t really add anything of merit. I got shit on by the REAL Cool Kids and I was allowed/expected to laugh whenever my chefs cracked a joke about another chef. I was basically like Amanda Seyfried in Mean Girls. I would walk around the market with a thousand yard stare just waiting for a command from my pack leader. It’s a sad, sad, sad, thing to be that little fish swimming underneath a shark. That’s who I was. Next…
‘Cool Underclassmen’: These are the young chefs who have gotten notoriety and are doing their own thing. If they get written up in Bon App or even some local magazine, the Cool Kids don’t understand why? The Cool Kids do the ‘I’m too cool for you’ Head Flick when they walk by, and as they pass immediately start talking shit. ‘Their food is too, this or that.’ ‘And it tastes like shit.’ ‘Or their plating sucks.’ They would have the perpetual Stink Face like who invited these kids to MY keg party.
Are these cliques only in Los Angeles? Did I forget any cliques from the list? Do you think I’m an idiot? Let me know what you think and holla at ya boy.