I went straight to my friend Heather Mull, principal photographer for Table Magazine with the question, “Where could I get some good kitchen tones?” Her suggestion: Keith Fuller, Executive Chef at Six Penn Kitchen. Keith was up for it.
Why did I want to include kitchen tones in the project? To try and capture the sound of this hard, on-you-feet-all-day work, and (some of the) language shared in kitchens that occurs most often behind the scenes. In short, I wanted to pay a tribute to this work force. Being a table server helped put me through film school post-college. Working at restaurants helped to expand my cooking skills and develop my palate for good food and wine. Such experiences also clued me into the sometimes volatile, often exhausting and fast-paced work that went on in restaurants (often hidden from customers). I liked doing physical work, too. Most shifts passed quickly, the money was a good deal better than doing something like office temping, and I have some lovely memories of sharing meals with restaurant worker comrades.
These tones are dedicated to kitchen and restaurant staff (even though a restaurant person might never want any of these tones on their phones–mostly you just want to forget about the intensity of such work when you’re off duty). But perhaps the tones will make helpful alert signals to be set for pesky restaurant coworkers who have that habit of calling you at the last minute to cover a shift for them.
Keith Fuller became the Executive Chef at Six Penn Kitchen last year. When I asked him if he’d ever use one of these tones on his phone, he said, “It’d be a cool alarm–if I wanted to have nightmares…” Aside from running the restaurant, Keith hosts “Iron Chef” dinners at his house as to help garner charitable contributions and encourage people to support and learn more about local organizations like PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) and Grow Pittsburgh.
Keith invited me to come down and record audio for ringtones during a Sunday brunch. Yikes. “While you’re working?” I asked. Let it be noted here that the experience was challenging and stressful for a sound recordist–no opportunities for second takes, I didn’t want to get in any body’s way, etc.
I’m grateful to these gentlemen working that day in the back of the kitchen–Kato Pittman, Chris Bialas (a.k.a. Tom Copperpot, he asked me to note), and table server Tom Kruiz for their laborious audio contributions to this tone series, and to Dave Kreul, Line Cook and Kitchen Manager, and Night Closer, Chad Scott (a.k.a. Thachad “The Man”) in the front of the house. Trying to capture audio from my source, Keith Fuller, was beyond my expertise and equipment’s ability. When he’s working, that man moves and talks fast.
Here’s my personal favorite from the Six Penn Kitchen recording session, a tone involving the shaking of small metal ramekins once they’ve come out of the dishwasher, with Kato Pittman saying, “I got it!” The others follow.