I suppose I always watched my mother cooking and baking when I was a child.
She cooked some good meals and was excellent at baking pies.
I was fascinated at how good all she cooked turned out.
I am no chef but I am not embarassed at serving the meals I cook
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What got you into cooking/being a chef ? - Page 2post #32 of 493/29/10 at 6:55pm
I'd always liked to cook when I was younger. I had to; my parents didn't buy pre-made food. The first food I remember really taking notice of(as far as flavor goes) was an amaretto cheesecake. The first thing I cooked was desserts and eventually started with savoury food as I grew older. Chili was my favorite. I liked math and science in school and went on to university after high school to study engineering. Failed out because I didn't go to class and partied too much. After that I had a lot of random jobs. About a month or so after being out of a job(seasonal), I got a call from a friend of my parents. She offered me a job as a kitchen helper, starting part-time; I took it and wasn't really sure if I wanted to cook for the rest of my life, even after a year and a half had passed. But something happened, not sure what really, but something just clicked and then food and cooking was all I could think about.
Edited by MrChris - 6/21/10 at 6:28ampost #33 of 493/30/10 at 12:38amI was five and my parents took me to Cleveland, OH. We were visiting a friend of hers from high school. I grew up in rural WV, so first time to the big city and all that for me. He takes us to fancy restaurant, french, I can't remember the name, but he was trying to gross me out and ordered escargot. He gave me one and didn't tell me what it was and I ate it. It was so fing good, so I asked for another and he started laughing and told me I was eating snails. My mom said I had very inquisitive look on my face and looked right at her said , " I think you should make these at home, because we have a lot of snails in our garden." I ate three orders that night. It just kind of stared from there, never really cooked as a professional until about 26,but I always cooked at home, I was the roommate that cooked and the 8 years in the US Army (infantry). I figured out creative ways to cook up MRE's. The guys got a kick out of it when we were in field and Iraq. I noticed it boosted peoples morale and I got self gratification out of it. I also noticed that the ladies liked it a lot. I have had some of the most memorable moments of my life revolve around food. Like Nigel Slater said, "Cooking is the sexiest thing you do with your clothes on."
post #34 of 493/30/10 at 10:25pm
I think when I really started to pay attention to cooking, was after a Cub Scout assignment on helping to make a meal. I think I got an arrowhead after making Hamburgers with my mom, in a frying pan no less! That was in the early 80's. We didn't have much money in those days, and ground beef was still fairly cheap. Later, we moved to Canada, my dad was a pastor, and our church often had meals after services. I would often skip services and sneak down to the kitchen to watch the ladies cook, and help where I could.
I got my first restaurant job at 14, as a busboy at a Bonanza Steak House. From there, as a lot do, I worked my way up. After moving back to the USA, I worked in Dairy Queen, and other restaurants, eventually landing at Domino's Pizza for 8 years. I had always enjoyed eating good food, and found I wanted to be more creative. After cooking at home many times for friends, they often would say, you should go to cooking school. I said, yeah right, maybe someday. Later I ended up at Pennsylvania Culinary in Pittsburgh, PA and found I loved it.
I did my internship at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando on top of the Orlando Airport, where I was first placed on Broiler in the busiest restaurant in the hotel. I was responsible for the daily special. It really challenged me to be creative!
After my internship was over, I left the Hyatt and went over to Disney to the Swan & Dolphin Resort, where I learned more and more under Chef Waldo Brun and the talented team of Sous Chefs, Garde Manger Chefs, Butcher and so many others! Now I love creating, because of a Sous Chef named Fred Vlachos, who would often give me a mystery basket of ingredients that I would then use to create a special from, or sometimes I would give him the mystery basket, and see what he would come up with. I used to give him the most random things I could find too, but he always came up with a winner.
Now as an Executive Chef, cooking Western Food in China, I like to challenge my cooks too. Sometimes ingredients are harder to find here, and imported goods are very expensive, but it makes it a more fun challenge.
I am also loving learning the real Chinese style of cooking, and make Chinese style dishes at home, with a twist, learning new ingredients and methods. Chefs, never stop learning! I count it a blessing when I learn something new. If I learn something new today, it is a good day!post #35 of 494/12/10 at 10:00pmSOS (stretch or starve) nights at my mom's house. you had to get creative after a while, my brothers and i got really tired of peanut butter sandwiches and hot dogs with mac and cheese. i asked my mom why she made us do this and her answer was that 1. she was to tired to cook 2. with her being out of the country so much my dad's food is hazardous at times so we needed a backup plan (ugh. white sauce noodles still make me sick) and 3. our future spouse is probably not going to have a clue. you have no idea how true this is! my first room mate asked me how to boil water (she was serious, i thought it was a joke!) i put a pot on the counter and told her to put water in it and stick it on a hot burner and wait for the water to bubble. left the room for maybe 10-15 minutes and somehow she managed to burn the pot! no food in the damn thing at all i don't know what she did to it. i guess some people really can burn water...post #36 of 494/13/10 at 4:55amBrianyjanell - I've heard the saying of burning water, but this is the first eye-witness account. Gave me a good goggle.
Cooking often starts of necessity, then if it is for you - it grabs you and drags you in. As kids at our house there were always lots of mouths to feed, and with parents both working to support us, I was the only one interested in doing it. The others would do dishes, do housework, yardwork etc, but nobody wanted to own the kitchen, Sure we got some awful meals to start with but mum's cookboks and having watched and cooked with her helped. We all got through it alive As it turns out most of us did some time in kitchens before moving on to other jobs, and now nieces and nephews are doing the same, Must be in the blood.
In later years when some of the birds had left the nest, parents had more time for cooking, and I really enjoyed watching them spread their wings into different cuisines.
And always - dinner around the table in the kitchen - none of the zombie mode on the couch in front of the idiot box. Lots of conversation and sharing the day's happenings. Except sometimies Sunday nights when everyone was too tired to do a full meal so it was pot luck from leftovers and crash out where you could in the lounge. But as always, big pot of tea to go with the meal. ahhhhh.post #37 of 494/13/10 at 5:41amAs a kid I used to be home when my mom was cooking, and it was either watch boring TV, read a book, or I could hang out with mom in the kitchen. She had me chop up hamburger in a frying pan once to help out, and I loved it. I really tried hard to chop it with even consistency and actually really enjoyed it. I guess that was my start of a forever food love affair. My mom was a great cook, so that certainly helps draw you in, I suppose if your mom is a horrid cook you might run from food before you realize what possibilities it holds.
When I moved out, cooking became a necessity, but once in a while it also became an adventure. I started trying new things, reading information online. I remember reading for the first time about fresh egg pasta and thinking "are you kidding me!?!! it's that easy?!" .. of course I spent 3 hours making a batch of fresh ravioli but my brother was living at the apartment at the time and he joined in, he loves cooking as I do. We had a lot of adventures. Now I have a good friend that likes cooking adventures and we make a point to stretch ourselves by trying out new foods, or coming up with our own recipes based on experience then adjusting based on what we think we fell short on.
As an adult, I love art and I love technical things, what I love more than anything are technical art things. I think it's why I gravitated toward software design, and photography. Food fits right in there as a technical art as well.post #38 of 494/13/10 at 4:56pmhi, i am not a chef, i just love to cook, just like what others said in here, im into cooking because its so satisfying, me and my husband is very compatible, i love to cook and he loves to eat, and every time i cook something and he likes it, we both feel good.post #39 of 494/15/10 at 4:12pmWhen I moved out I quickly grew tired of pre-made and processed foods. I had very basic cooking skills (I made a killer spaghetti but that was about it) and I decided to build on them. I asked for cookbooks for my birthday and watched the Food Network and if I had questions I turned to the internet. Once I realized I was good at it I just kept going. Trying new recipes was a challenge and I'm at the point now where a recipe is only a guideline. Now that I've gone vegetarian, cooking is all shiny and new to me again!post #40 of 494/15/10 at 5:07pmGood question! I have 3 big influences on what got me into cooking and want to become a cook.
1. My mother - granted my parents split when I was 4 and we didn't eat well but she always has told me from day 1 to eat local produce and not megamarket stores and if possible, organic food or to grow your own (and I agree with that because when you know where your food comes from and how it is produced, you develop a greater understanding and respect for the produce you will use).
2. My grandmother - When I was a young boy, about 10 or 11, my grandmother used to run and own her own seaside café ("Charlie's Café.. she doesn't own it now but it's still there). I used to take tea and scones to paying customers who came in so whereas a lot of young people who want to become a chef or restaurant owner don't know what they are getting themself into.. I fortunately do and have seen the hard work you put into it.
3. My holiday in Greece when I was 8 years old - Greece was my first international holiday abroad and while I was there I experienced Greek food, the crumbly feta, the smooth black olives, the ripe sun flavoured tomatoes. The colours of the Greek food, the smell, the taste, the joy it brought people and how it brought people together. To quote from Kitchen Confidental - "It was then dear reader, I wanted to become a chef".
This are my big influences looking back at it, but the truth is.. I fell into catering completely by mistake, I never did too good at school but science and cookery were my two good subjects and originally I wanted to study retail at my local college but only one other person wanted to do that and my options were: engineering, mehanics, carpentry or catering. It was catering I picked and have been learning fully and took it seriously at 14.. but you could say i've done it all my life. I'm 18 now...
Sorry it's so long and such a ramble or an insight."Heaven sends us good meat, but the Devil sends us cooks.” - David Garrick (1717-1779)."Heaven sends us good meat, but the Devil sends us cooks.” - David Garrick (1717-1779).post #41 of 494/19/10 at 3:44pmpost #42 of 491/29/11 at 10:57pm
LOL. I love this place. As per usual (for me), I've come across a really cool old thread. I've been into cooking since I was 4. The very first dish I made was a "fried egg sandwich" (I didn't use vocabulary like "sammy" back then). It was the kind where you cut a hole out of the bread and lay the egg on top w/ the yolk in the hole. My goodness did I feel cool. Anyway, that's when I started cooking. My mother was of Polish family, and my father Italian. My mother grew up through the great depression and through WWII. I think she was my first best influence. She taught me how to make the best outta whatever I had. That ability earned me a lot of points in a lot of places. Anyway, after I used a bunch of the money I earned in the service, I took what was left and spent it at the CIA. I'm now a chef in a bar and I teach about cooking with a satellite program of "Share Our Strength".
"Cooking Matters" formerly "Operation Frontline"post #43 of 491/30/11 at 5:37am
My mom sent me to camp in summer because neighborhood we lived in was bad.and getting wors. Went back cfor years then got to old to be a camper, so I took job in camp bakery. I loved it. Found a HS in NY that taught cooking went there. Graduated with a scholarship.to city tech took culinary arts.Received Escoffier Scholarship there (free 2nd year tuition)graduated then was put on NY Rest Assn.Apprentice program. Did that 1 year then went to Europe. Worked in Negresco Hotel near Monaco, did every station in all French kitchen. Returned to States got Garde Manger position in NY Friars Club. Then went on to NY Hotels to work every station. Figured out there was more money in the Catering business then anywhere else. Worked for many upscale caterers. Purchased 2 of my own places. Went back to my old alma-mater took a city exam and then started to teach culinary arts. for the city. Went back into volume on premise catering in NY in it's hay-day., made a lot of $,( worked for many unsavory people). Retired when I was 45 moved to Florida. Got sick of staying home just swimming, playing tennis and golf (.believe it or not you do) so went out and got job as chef in country clubs, Did that as well as worked for private family on Palm Beach for 5 years. Retired again . Would I do it over again?? You bet.
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...post #44 of 491/30/11 at 6:48am
My love of cooking started when I realized "I" could make my own cookies. Then I asked my grandma to help me make a "REAL" cake not a Betty Crocker cake mix cake. Then at the age of 9 my grandma started walking me through Thanksgiving dinner, she took over finishing the gravy, I was making it too lumpy. By the age of 12 I had grew the pumpkin for the pies and made cranberry sauce from scratch (last time I did that, I got burned really bad). Played at cooking quite a bit but wasted my 20's doing Renaissance Faire,computer work, gaming and warehousing. By 1999 had landed a good job at Apple computers and was on my third interview for Intel, Also still doing Ren Faire, cooking fish and chips on the weekends. Nasdaq crashed in 2000, got layed off and started cooking for real. After working in a real kitchen, I never missed my old cubicle again."In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. ""In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "post #45 of 491/30/11 at 4:49pm
I can relate to this every bits.
My mother was a working teacher full time when I was a kid and she would cook everyday. She wouldn't even sit down for a 5-min rest after coming back from school unless she put lunch ready for us. We eat what we cook, and eating out was once-or-twice-a-year event. Truth, my siblings and I got tired of pestering dad to eat out. He simply wouldn't budge. On festivities, she turns to her very own recipe book (compiled circa 1970s since she got married, have kids, etc). Most of the afternoons, I was 'asked' to help. Resistance will only lead to bigger conflicts so I mostly complied. I knew how to cook perfect rice in normal pots no auto cooker by the age of 7.
Now having a family of my own I understand the sacrifices she made to feed us well. Cooking is a lot of practice at first, the adventurous ones will soar career-wise, the mediocre gastronomically satisfied and functionally apt. I love it even tho' I'm still learning to become a real chemist now working on my thesis. I just hope to have daughter(s) of my own to pass on the culinary torch.post #46 of 491/30/11 at 7:17pm
Wow its amazing to see all the diffrent walks of life cooks/chefs come from... I started as dishwasher in highschool and being such a go getter in six months was put on the line and have been cooking up a storm ever since.. But i always loved food and knew someday i would work with food.post #47 of 491/30/11 at 7:19pmpost #48 of 491/31/11 at 11:06am
Ellington Ridge Country Club
One fateful day when I was 14 or 15 years old I was looking for something to do. I had been working at various jobs from the time I was about 7 years old. Before that it was filling a little red wagon full of corn on the cob that my dad bought in 100 lb. burlap sacks, and going door to door in the neighborhood and selling the corn by the dozen.
But one day in the summer after school had let out my brother in law said he thought he could get me a job at the country club where he was a member. I was looking for a way to make money and said sure see what you can do. Well the rest as they say is history.
Dirty Dishes Piled to the Ceiling
I don't remember if I was even interviewed. I don't think so. I remember walking down this long flight of concrete stairs to the basement of the country club, and walking into what seemed like a dimly lit commercial kitchen. This is when I met Luke St. Germaine, Renee, his brother who was a cook, and Donnie his other brother who was assistant manager of the club. I also met Ben who was the guy that made sandwiches and salads and the like.
In Reality I don't really remember much of that, but only in retrospect does it come to mind. What I do remember is that Luke, who was the Chef de Cuisine, pointed me in the direction of a double stainless steel sink piled to the ceiling with pots, pans, bowls and sheet trays that were all dirty. Not just dirty but filthy, baked on, crusty, nasty and just plain gross. I knew what to do, thanks to my mom who knew how to put her four young minions to work and ease her load.
So there I was heading over to the pots and pans when ole chef Luke throws in "and when you're finished with that you can get started on those dishes. Well, it wasn't hard to miss the pile of dishes from a banquet the night before that no one had made any effort to clean up. They were piled on a stainless table about eight feet long and three feet wide. Crusted with whatever was on the menu the night before with no evidence of having been scraped. Silver ware, enough for the guys that stormed Normandie to eat, haphazardly thrown around and spilling onto the floor.
I couldn't help myself thinking that now would be the prudent time to do an about face and bolt for the door. Which I noticed was now closed and locked, and the Chef grinning at me with this evil smile and an even more evil glint in his eye. What I didn't realize is that it was probably just a fog of Scotch induced misery and he was putting on a brave face while he did his best to torture me.
There's more but you get the idea.
Paulpost #49 of 491/31/11 at 11:19am
I'm not a chef, either, but I got into cooking because I was hungry. I was 18, newly married, and realized that Mama wasn't there to cook for me anymore, so I had to learn or starve. I got into making everything from scratch 7 years later when my daughter needed a special diet with no artificial colors or flavors, no white sugar, and no white flour. That, basically, meant that I had to make everything, including butter. So, I learned to keep her healthy. She's 34 now and healthy as a horse (and she knows how to cook because I taught her)
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