A long time ago I worked for a chef who would ask questions as teaching moments frequently. This is something I have seen a lot of chefs do, and I have done it myself. Something like:
I need you to do A. While doing A make sure you do process B. Do you know why we do process B?
However no matter what answer I gave, I was never correct. He would then rephrase my answer and repeat it back to me as the real answer. This was a problem for two reasons.
- At that point in my career it was important to start demonstrating that I knew what I was doing and why.
- It felt crummy to be told I was wrong all the time.
I never contradicted him. I never told him he was wrong, or more to the point that we were both right. He wasn't stupid. He wasn't simply misunderstanding that we were both saying the same thing. (He was better educated than me.) I wasn't a know-it-all. I didn't act like I knew everything. In fact I used to get so excited when I actually knew the answer because I was only just beginning to be able to answer questions like that effectively.
A few examples:
When making hollandaise it is important to whisk vigorously and constantly. Do you know why that is?
Because it keeps the sauce from breaking and helps make it nice and fluffy.
No. You have to stir it constantly because if it separates it is ruined.
as well as:
I like my steak rare but I eat burgers well done. There is simply more of a risk with ground beef. do you know why that is?
Because the biggest concern is with surface bacteria and ground beef has far more surface area than a steak. You are also still cooking the surface of the steak.
No. It's because the grinding process spreads the bacteria through all of the meat.
It's worth noting in the second example that there is a slightly different answer but they are related and it is not unreasonable to assume that the answerer might understand that. Both answers actually left out the more significant nuance, which is that industrial grinders process far more meat between cleanings and spread the contamination across larger batches.
That was a long while back, and I chose to deal with the situation by moving on. I found a new job within a month and got away from him. What if I had been unable to find another job and had been stuck working there? How could I have handled him so that he would have stopped telling me I was wrong?