What is an FNG
Since Auguste Escoffier put forth the brigade system of kitchen order and rankings the food industry has been a bit obsessed with military metaphors. It’s an easy to explain why, in a world of yelling, pointy sharp things, fire & chaos its good to have some order. During the Vietnam Conflict (still not a war) soldiers would refer to new recruits as FNGs, meaning: Fucking New Guys. FNGs wouldn’t know what to do and it would put their units in harm’s way. FNG would later be assimilated into kitchen speak, again, for the obvious reasons, and I think it’s about time that it moves over to the bar as well.
In Nam, soldiers would say that FNGs “were still shitting stateside food.” a modern bar analog would be that the bar’s FNG still “uses St Germain in everything.” The military’s FNG was derided for lack of experience or fear but the restaurant FNG is also derided for bright-eyed optimism and a casual approach to the job. An FNG, takes their time, doesn’t respect tools and their proper uses, has no perspective on history and worst of all, believes themself to be “special.”
FNGs are very relevant in the bar community because of how quickly someone can advance in the bar world. I often meet brand ambassadors that list off their credentials about this, that and the other place and I know that half of them are bar back positions. My mind says “I have your supposed manager’s number in my phone, shall I give him a call about your 3 month performance at Bourbon & Branch?”
FNGs should be allowed to admit their lack of experience and ask questions. They should be immersed in culture and learn their own place. They should learn drink templates, buy their own tools, not do a fake “hard shake” and be helped by others.
We were all FNGs. And with luck, and in advancement, you’ll find yourself as an FNG many more times as you advance in your career. If you remember this as you decide on how to deal with FNGs you yourself, with be less of an FNG.