On the death of Marie-Antoine carême before the age of 50, burnt out father of grande cuisine, according to Laurent Tailhade “by the flame of his genius and the coal of the spits”. I can only hope the ripples of what I bring to the culinary world outweigh my accolades a thousand to one.
Slaving away in a joyless industry of sharks , leaving the practical for the passion, was a very scary leap indeed. As I prepare for finals this week I’ve had some time to reflect on how far I’ve come; and how far I yet to have traveled. I may never earn a star, I may never see a camera, hell I’ll be pleased to pay the rent. There’s a term that I hold near and dear to my heart. Soigne. A passion and love for what one does. The path to being a chef is not a lucrative one, nor a glorious one.
The joy I’ve learned comes from two main paths. The first, is the “première bouchée” or “the first bite”. The look on someone’s face when they take that joyous first bite when you really and I mean really nail a dish.
The second comes from the nod of the chef. When you work to perfect something and your mentor doesn’t always neccisarily praise and pat you on the back. A simple “hmm not bad” and a nod can send waves of pride through a first year culinary student.
As i prepare for finals, I’ve learned so much more than braising vs grilling, velouté vs béchamel, sabayon vs pastry creme. It’s about the hunger for perfecting that sauce. It’s about putting your time in the trenches. I’ve learned humility, defeat, victory, but most off all even if a dish goes to hell in a hand basket it’s what you take from it and learn that makes a great chef, not who can be perfect 100% of the time.
Traits of a chef are skill, taste, judgement, dedication, pride, but ironically enough the most important? Hunger. Bon appétit!