Of all the things that have contributed to my evolution as a chef, the advice my various teachers have given me is perhaps most important. Here I present my evolution as a chef through others’ words of wisdom. I hope one day to pass on similar gems to young chefs working for me.
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When I first began visiting France, I was amazed at the quality of the produce, especially at Rungis, the large food market outside of Paris. The chef I worked for at La Foux d’Allose, in the sixth arrondissement, was a man of Rabelaisian dimensions and appetites, and working for him changed me forever.
One day I was walking by a restaurant in Southboro, Massachusetts, where I had washed dishes and bussed when I was younger. The staff were out back, hanging out, and they asked me what I was doing. I said, I’m doing electrical but looking for something else, and they said, “Hey, you want to cook for a while? We’ll teach you to cook.”
If you had asked me at age five what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would immediately have replied “a Cookerman!” (shades of a superhero complex).
My first job in the food industry, and I do consider it one, was dusting the shelves of a liquor store on the main street of the very small town where I grew up. I was twelve years old.
My suburban Chicago upbringing was one of Campbell’s soup casseroles and Christmas dinners at the local Chinese restaurant. Like most Americans in the 1970s, my family’s culinary culture was more about convenience than gastronomy
Few people have influenced the way Israelis eat as much as Erez Komarovsky, whose bakery, namesake restaurant, and ubiquitous Erez Breads shops and cafés have made “Erez” a household name.
I miss Montreal. In Montreal every respectable Italian has a wine cellar. They buy a house, and the first thing they do is go out back and dig a cellar. My father’s was 6-feet deep and maybe 4-feet wide by 12-feet long.
The basic need of both audiences is to be fed with good food. I try to use local and seasonal ingredients, which appeals to both groups. The older generations appreciate the idea of cooking with the local harvests as they did in their youth and as their parents did.
How had my personal cooking style been influenced by the building’s design? She must have been kidding! I took the job at North Pond because I wanted to be the boss.