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Criticism

A good friend of mine head cooked a feast recently. When I asked a couple of Laurels for their opinion I was very disappointed with the reaction. The most generous statement made was “well, I didn’t go hungry.” Yes there were a couple of dishes that did not come out as well as we wanted them to – specifically the risotto and chicken were each cooked in several batches and a batch of each ended up being undercooked. Unfortunately at least part of each of those batches ended up at the same table.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that I wasn’t looking for honest reactions. I just think that to only complain about what wasn’t right without making some comment as to what was good is a bad idea.

I was talking to another friend about this and we kind of came up with a definition that we liked for various types of criticism and I was wondering what you guys think of it.

Complain: Listing the problems with a project but not offering any suggestions. “The chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through.”

Criticism: Listing the problems with a suggested solution. “The chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through. Next time you might want to consider par-boiling the chicken before the event.”

Constructive Criticism: Listing the problems, suggesting a solution, and observing something good that was done on the project. “The chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through. I’ve had that problem in the past and found if you par-boil the chicken it has a tendency to cook more thoroughly. However, I really liked the way you did the lamb. May I ask where you found the recipe for the sauce?” No matter what someone does there is ALWAYS something good that can be said.

My point is not to suggest “oh everything is wonderful” is a good answer. It is to try to find some good to go with the bad. As it happens both T and I know that there were wonderful things about that feast. We had a 3 course feast with 4 different meats and a sugar rapier soltie. I know we have cooked well in the past and will make wonderful feasts in the future. We know that there were some problems with the feast and we have talked about ways to fix them.

I’m more concerned about what would happen if someone who doesn’t have confidence in their craft is faced with nothing but complaints. Most people will think twice before putting themselves out for abuse again.

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orlacarey
Orlaith Carey
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