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Introduction

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello,

I am new to this forum, and frankly don't know how I much I will be using it. Not much of a computer guy I'm afraid, and I SUCK at typing. Give me a whisk...

I've been cooking for 35 plus years (yes, that dates me), and I've done almost every kind you can think of: restaurants (had two of my own), hotels in Canada and Switzerland, resorts in Canada and caribbean, convention centres, catering, competitions, teaching, lecturing, cooking demos, etc.... The only thing I haven't done are hospitals, prisons and cruise ships - they have a lot in common, though...

 

Memorable gigs: cooking for the Prince-regent of Bavaria in 1986, cooking for the Queen of England in 1987 (or was it '88?), doing a stage with Roger Verge in Mougins, France, meeting Susur Lee and Charlie Trotter, putting in CRAZY hours at the G-8 summit, going to Bejing, China to study the food services delivery at the Olympics, winning competitions...

 

"Lows": cooking lunch for the Contessa of so-and-so's DOG while executive chef in a four-star Swiss hotel, having to turn some millionaire's fresh dungeness crab salad into a grilled cheese sandwich...hmm, not too bad, I guess.

 

These days I spend most of my time planning, designing and advising, not so much cooking. A natural progression, I suppose as you get older and lose steam.

I was trained "the old way", classic French cuisine, butchery from the whole carcass down, baking and pastry making like they used to do it. None of these portion cuts and convenience products in my kitchens! That's how I prefer it, anyway. Auguste Escoffier is my hero. He was the greatest chef EVER (sorry, Gordon R.); he had vision, unshakeable principles and immaculate training. On top of that he was a perfect gentleman and didn't abuse his staff (I know this because my great-gran'pappy worked with him).

 

Pet peeves: I HATE how every Tom, Dick and Harry calls himself a "chef" when he can barely boil water. For years now, I have worked within our industry to both lobby governments to make cooks be required to have trade certification, as well as encourage cooks to pursue formal training and accreditation. I am an assessor of apprentices for our provincial government, and sit on various advisory committees for culinary schools and institutions.

Another peeve i have is how some people have to over-complicate menus and recipes, just to make them seem  - what? - interesting? good? I don't know. Keep it simple, keep it fresh. let the food speak for itself. So often you get these hoidy-toidy foodies mix together contradictory ingredients which will either cancel each other out, or drag a perfectly nice ingredient through the mud - like "lobster mac n'cheese". Or foie gras on a hamburger.

I'm ranting.

Anyway, I'll check out the forum now and then.

post #2 of 7

Well, we're glad you've decided to join our membership - even if you decide not to be a regular here!

 

We have a membership from around the globe, and all levels of culinary ability (which makes for an interesting mix of posts here!)  I'm Scots (and would just like to point out that Queen Elizabeth is not the Queen of England, she is (amongst other titles) QEII of the United Kingdom (we natives of other countries within the UK get miffed when we get left out).

 

If you decide to come back, feel free to join on on any thread you find interesting, or start your own in the relevant forum.  The wikis, blogs, reviews, articles and photography on here offer much inspiration for those who wish to expand their horizons.  We'd all be interested in learning from you - you seem to know it all.

post #3 of 7

Welcome to Chef Talk, Steelbanger. What a life! You're too interesting to stay away- at least we hope. As Ishbel said, we're a mix of professionals and home cooks, youths and elders (yes, elders- we prize our grays), aspirants and teachers. While we recognize the annoyance of computer use, we hope you'll look on your visits here as opportunities to become more comfortable with the medium.

 

We hope to see you often. We have a special guest coming shortly- Steve Raichlen of BBQ fame- and that will bring interesting discussions.

 

Regards,

Mezzaluna

Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishbel View Post

Well, we're glad you've decided to join our membership - even if you decide not to be a regular here!

 

We have a membership from around the globe, and all levels of culinary ability (which makes for an interesting mix of posts here!)  I'm Scots (and would just like to point out that Queen Elizabeth is not the Queen of England, she is (amongst other titles) QEII of the United Kingdom (we natives of other countries within the UK get miffed when we get left out).

 

If you decide to come back, feel free to join on on any thread you find interesting, or start your own in the relevant forum.  The wikis, blogs, reviews, articles and photography on here offer much inspiration for those who wish to expand their horizons.  We'd all be interested in learning from you - you seem to know it all.



Thank you for your welcoming words - and sorry about the Queen bit - and no, I hardly know it all. To paraphrase my hero, Auguste Escoffier, with knowledge and experience comes the realization that there is always more to learn. I will never know it all.

I am on my way to the oil fields of northern Alberta on a consulting gig for a large exploration company. Another facet of the profession. Occasionally I lecture at college job fairs and schools, and I try to impress on the kids what a variety of opportunities there are within the profession of cook. I once had an apprentice who was very talented, and when her mother entrusted her to me, I thought it was because she was proud of her daughter's choice of becoming a chef. However, mom took me aside and confided that she had high hopes that I would try to talk her daughter out of being a cook. She had higher aspirations in mind...

That was in the days before the food network and Bobby Flay (sp?). Cooking used to have a poor reputation as a profession - poor pay, bad hours, and a lot of stress in a hard environment. Nothing has changed, really, except that nowadays it's cool to be a cook. In fact, back in 2005 there was a survey done to list the "sexiest" careers, and chef came in second only to rock star. Not bad. The pay thing still sucks, though. If you consider the amount of experience and expert knowledge a good chef needs - plus the years of practical skills (I would liken this to a lawyer, even a doctor), the vast majority of us don't get paid what we are worth.

The reason I joined this forum is exactly as you stated -  find inspiration for my own work, expand my horizons, and learn what the rest of the world is up to. I am particularly interested in cooking professionals' experiences in regards to labor practices and standards, training and education, levels of professional certification and career expectation. I will see if there is a relevant thread, or else I may start my own. We'll see...

Thanks again.

post #5 of 7

I am happy to see someone in my age catagory join in here. It is a pleasure to have you. You are not old, you are at a Senior State. of Mind.

Chef EdB
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...

Reply

Chef EdB
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...

Reply
post #6 of 7

I cannot agree with you more regarding the epidemic of those who give themselves the title of "chef." I've been cooking and baking at home since I can remember, and finally went to CCA for Baking & Pastry certification in 2006. Then I spent 3 years cooking in high-end San Francisco restaurants before moving back to New Orleans and landing the job of Assistant Pastry Chef at Bayona, a position I held for 2 years. Now I'm in running my own little show, making dessert specials part-time at a more casual restaurant in the city... and yet I still hesitate before I call myself a pastry chef, because I am so acutely aware of how much more there is to learn, and how little experience I have compared to a lot of others. Yet just the other day, a customer came in and said, "Oh, my daughter's a pastry chef too! She's in school for it at Delgado."

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ametrine View Post

I cannot agree with you more regarding the epidemic of those who give themselves the title of "chef." I've been cooking and baking at home since I can remember, and finally went to CCA for Baking & Pastry certification in 2006. Then I spent 3 years cooking in high-end San Francisco restaurants before moving back to New Orleans and landing the job of Assistant Pastry Chef at Bayona, a position I held for 2 years. Now I'm in running my own little show, making dessert specials part-time at a more casual restaurant in the city... and yet I still hesitate before I call myself a pastry chef, because I am so acutely aware of how much more there is to learn, and how little experience I have compared to a lot of others. Yet just the other day, a customer came in and said, "Oh, my daughter's a pastry chef too! She's in school for it at Delgado."



Yes, it's too bad "chef" is synonymous with "cook" in the Americas... In most of Europe - that I know of - you are not a chef until you have supervisory respnsibility, at least as a chef de parti.

 

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