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Your Career Influences

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was just thinking while sitting here going through some of my old food pictures "How the **** did I get here?"

Looking back in my late high school days, I noticed that I wasn't really preparing myself for a kitchen job. I took up all sorts of computer and business courses, some advanced geography, travel and tourism, and some shop. I obviously didn't have any clear or defined career path but I had a basic idea, business or computers. Then I had this sudden need to cook and bake then I was off to cooking school with baking then chef training. It was around that time that FoodTV had started to get big and a huge influx of kids had gone for kitchen related job training. Yes my Cheftalk friends, I'm a Food Network turncoat. Like many others, it introduced me to the thought and idea of working in a kitchen but I had a general idea of what I was getting myself into, something amongst those many others didn't know like the long hours standing and/or running, stressful work surrounding, etc. you guys know it all. But wait, I was thinking food even way before FoodTV existed. I loved as a kid, watching Julia Child and Jacque Pepin, Pasquale, even Martin Yan doing shows where food was credited by the chefs unlike today where a cooking show no longer really showcases food anymore but some angst chef thinking hes George Carlin but with loud vocal cords. This was, I'd like to think, where I got my start down this path but just took the Food Network to remind me.

How did you get your start? What hit you over your head that has resulted in you wearing the uniform?
post #2 of 14
I guess the one that made the initial impression on me as a kid was Keith Floyd, with his show "Floyd on food" which was broadcast on PBS in the states back in the seventies I think.

Jeff Smith made and impression as well, somewhat later.
post #3 of 14
as a newcomer to the game (22 years old, no formal culinary schooling), i can honestly say that my first influence ever was my grandmother and my father. my grandmother is italian through and through, and when we have family gatherings, you better believe that the 15lbs of ravioli with tomato basil riempitura is ALL homemade,

as for commercialised influences, bobby flay is my favorite food network guy, and my biggest inspiration out of anyone, and the number one chef i'd like to meet over anybody else would be Marcel from the second season of "top chef". this guy is going to be a pioneer in the future of food. i guess everyone has their favorites, those are mine.
post #4 of 14
I have to admit, that being the age that I am I think I must've watched the Food Network since the very earliest days nearly fifteen years ago (I guess I was ten at the time). I always enjoyed eating and trying different things, but I think in particular David Rosengarten really got me to try things such as sea urchin (which I still love to this day). I grew up watching the Urban Peasant, Martin Yan, and others and as I've grown up I've learned to embrace a wider variety of people and styles. I only started working in professional kitchens after I got a bachelor's degree in mathematics, which usually makes me the nerdiest person in the kitchen I'm working at.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #5 of 14
Justin Wilson, the cookin' Cajun. Loved that guy's show from the time I was a kid.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #6 of 14
Never was big on TV, the only cooking show I can remember back then was "Wok with Yan" and it didn't do anything for me. To this day I still am not big on TV, never bothered with a cable subscription, and don't think I ever will. So I have never seen a "TV personality Chef" and quite frankly don't really care.

One of the biggest things that DID make an impression on me was getting a cheap copy of Pepin's " La technique" for my 11th or 12th b'day. The secrets of the universe explained in clear, logical order, with action-packed grainy B&W photos. Still have the book too. If I wanted to get a 10 spd, or clothes that weren't "pre-owned" by my older brother I had to get a job. Besides the job would get me out of the house too, so at 16 I was dish-dog at a local Greek place, and then it was only waiting it out until highschool was over so I could start off cooking. Never looked back.

What does "kick it up a notch" mean, anyway?....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #7 of 14
Headless Chx

What a cool post!
Got me thinking....

I went to Northern Secondary at Eglinton and Mt Pleasent....grew up near chinatown
My first restaurant job was dishwasher at "Licken Chicken", aka 'by the way cafe' at Bloor and Brunswick at 16 years of age.

That's when i discovered food. Having no clue at the time, what i wanted to do with my life, I realized people gotta eat....every single day.

Been in the restaurant/foodservice industry since.

Plenty of painful memories but hardly any regrets....

Cat Man
post #8 of 14
Used to watch Chef Tell, Julia Child..but I got into this business purely by accident..a friend was working at a private club and they needed a pantry person..she asked me if I wanted something to do for the summer, I said yeah, sure..and I had found something I was good at!

I have no formal training..worked with an exec. Chef who taught me so much..sauces, spices, etc. I still work with him to this day (23 years now) and I am still learning and loving it!
post #9 of 14
Mine are all people nobody knows. Noel Cullen, Siggy Eisenberger, oh, Jean-Louis Paladin, Alfonse Constriciani, Arturo Arteaga... :D
post #10 of 14
My mom.
I learned to enjoy cooking for others from her.
My dad was agreat mechanic, used to work for Andy Granatelli at Indy, helped develop the Novi.
His picture is even in Andy's book, "They call me Mr. 500".
But my dad had no patience.
He wanted everyone to automatically be good at something.
So he never taught me how to work on cars, he taught me how to hold a light and get yelled at. :D
So I'd hang with mom.
I had no clear plan what I wanted to do growing up, and started out like many, in the dishpit.
I was an unreliable employee at first, you never knew when I'd show up.
But the one thing I had going for me was that once I was there, I worked my *** off.
So I was given the opportunity to prep, then learn line, and things went on from there.
One thing I picked up from one of my early trainers: Cooks are tempermental; 50% temper, 50% mental.
I've tried to uphold that tradition.
Fortunately, I finally developed a strong work ethic, and now am habitually early.
I love cooking for others, and I love running a kitchen.
When it's bad, it's pretty ugly, but when it's good, those are some of the best times of my life.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #11 of 14
Holy cats I wouldn't even know where to begin!!!!!!! Most of my influences were and still are well know but more on a Regional or City basis and most of that involves Atlanta. There are those that are more obscure but have made their impacts on me and the companies we worked for.

For as much attitude as I put forth at times:rolleyes:......I still took the time to absorb as much as I could when I was around these folks. Many were not just a culinary influence but also a business and personal. In some cases they were all three. Many were also peers or subordinates and not just employers, bosses and the like. There were also those that I never had the opportunity to work with yet did have the opportunity to observe or socialize with. So with that said here goes...... (ps the way they are listed is not by order of importance:smiles:)

Steve Alterman, Bo Goysich, Scott Hemple, Gary Laun, Dan Johnson, Peter Filipowicz, Dave Burghaus, Tom Henry, Mike Horton, Jeff Darby, Jeff Davis (late), Mike Griswold, Glen Buchello, Dave Berry, Scott Peacock, Kevin Rathbun, Gil Maseri, Rich Scanlon (inspite of what he may have believed to the contrary) and many others unfortunately I can't remember full names but the faces are there. After all we are talking about a career that spanned close to 30 years, 15 cities/towns and 10 states.:beer:
post #12 of 14
When I was a kid food was always a central theme (with my father mostly) Saturdays were either pizza and subs or deli night. Pastrami, corned beef, cole slaw, potato salad, "specials" for my father, rye bread etc. Fridays were for chicken. Sunday mornings more often than not Dad would make a big breakfast, pancakse, sausage, bacon etc. occasionally he would bake up some kippers with eggs. Later on they joined a gourmet club where every six weeks or so another couple would host a gourmet shindig. I remember watching and waiting (mom always made me a plate after the guests were served) Classic Couilbiac and Lobster Stuffed Whole Tenderloin I remember best.
Saturdays when I started to to reach my "tweens" I would start to cook my own meals when my parents went out. Later I would imagine myself a short order cook and see how quickly I could make a hot pastrami sandwich. Soon it was watching cooking shows on PBS. Later my first jobs quite often were in restaurants, short order, ice cream parlors etc.
My real jobs as I got older were in Electrical drafting and design work. But when I got engaged I foolishly decided that instead of a cushy office job were I had a talent, but didn't really like the design end of it. I would go to culinary school and get a career in something I loved! My influences that really pushed me at that time were my culinary hero Jean Louis Palladin, and other DC powerhouse Chefs like Yannick Cam, Gaby Aubouin, Henry Haller, and many other big and little names in the DC area.

Ahh reality! I still love cooking but the business nearly did me in (twice) go figure I'm back in electrical design and drafting again. A cushy office job!

Still got mad skilz dontcha know!:eek::lol::D
My latest musical venture!
Also "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
My latest musical venture!
Also "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
post #13 of 14
I remember my Grand Father from French Canada holding me while he cooked blood sausage and home fries!!!! 1st influence
My mother cooking!!!! 2nd Influence
My father talking about the food in France during WWII!!! 3rd influence
My first gig at 13 years old, the chef Adrian, the owner and his two son's and all the old timer's from the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's!!! 4th influence
The WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Vet//NCO's through my military career that taught me the stamina, leadership and, management skills!!! 5th influence
And the cook today that stayed through the shift sick as a dog with a fever because the other guy has the flu too but called in sick!!!!

Even today after 37 years in the business I'm still influenced by the people in this field, the dedication, loyalty, hard work and the INFLUENCE it has on one's life..... Keep up the fire folks, the world can live without sports, and all other modes of entertainment but it can't survive without food!!!;)
post #14 of 14
While i remeber watching emeril on the food network when i was younger i would say the biggest influece would be my mom. She would always cook elabrate meals and bake a 1000 cookies around the holidays. I rember when i was probaly 10 or 11 i would cook lunch for my self and mom and dad. When i got old enough to have a job it was either get a job in a restaurant or work landscaping with my bothter in law. Well i dont like my brother in law so much so i go a dishwashing job. I got to do some prep work there and fell in love with cooking and preparing food. Eventualy i got my self onto the line and never looked back.
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