When his restaurant Radius had been open for about three years -- its 10th anniversary is in December -- two separate families came to talk to Schlow about their 15-year-olds. One was privileged, the other blue-collar, and both children said they wanted to forgo college in favor of attending culinary school.
"So, the family came to me at different times and said, 'Is it possible for -- you don't have to pay them -- to have my child come and spend some time in the summer in your kitchen?'" Schlow remembered. "I said, 'Sure, absolutely. We could do something like that.'"
Schlow told his staff that he wanted this to be an eye-opening experience for the teens, but that cursing was going to be forbidden, to create a better atmosphere.
"Growing up in the Northeast, it's the most sarcastic place in the world; and I think a lot of us think, if we ain't cursing, we're not funny," he said. "Take curse words out of your daily language and all of a sudden, it's kind of silent in my kitchen."
To enforce the new rule, Schlow collected $1 for every time someone cursed.
"The deal is, you can curse in the office if you're ranting and raving about somebody, and you can also curse if you hurt yourself. Pot drops on your head, you're allowed to curse, fair enough," he said. "The first year, I collect $1,200. I end up throwing a giant barbeque for the kitchen staff with their own money."
But now it's a way of life in his kitchens, and he said it has eliminated stress and made for a more peaceful work environment.
"Outside of the kitchen, I have a mouth like a trucker," he said. "But, you know, no offense to truckers, but it's worked out really, really well for us."