The Chefs at Work

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Kitchen Table

When I think that my life is crazy-busy, I watch the chefs on the food channels and realize my life is tranquil compared to the bedlam that occurs in a professional kitchen.   Professional chefs wear multiple “hats” and display interdisciplinary talents. They are artists, entrepreneurs, performers, communication experts, instructors and risk-takers.  Here is what they have to say…

William Todd English, based in Boston Massachusetts said, “I liked the energy of cooking, the action, the camaraderie. I often compare the kitchen to sports and compare the chef to a coach. There are a lot of similarities to it.”

On the other side of the continent in Yountville, California, Thomas Keller, founded of the award-winning French Laundry restaurant speaks to the moment he chose his life-work: “I wanted to learn everything I could about what it takes to be a great chef.  It was a turning point for me.”

Italian American chef and television personality, Giada De Laurentiis, was clear in her career choice.  To be successful, she said: “It helps to immerse yourself in what you potentially want to do.  Being involved, learning firsthand and observing the crafts and absorbing all you can, make it easier to define what you want.  It will also ultimately make you a better Chef. ”

The Barefoot Countess, Ina Garten, left a well-paying, prestigious position to follow her dream. “I worked for the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, on nuclear energy policy.  But I decided it would be much more fun to have a specialty food store, so I left Washington D.C. and moved to the Hamptons.  And how glad I am that I did!”

Kitchens, whether professional or in our homes, are the center of family life.  Vincent Andrew Schiavelli, the well-known stage, screen and television actor, once recalled: “My grandfather was a chef for a Baron in Sicily before he came to America. I grew up with him.  I used to do my homework at one end of the kitchen table while he cooked at the other end.”

24 thoughts on “The Chefs at Work

  1. Well, Lady Budd – a very interesting perspective however I would be very interested to test the water at the other end of the ‘foodscale’ (so to speak) these guys are all at the top of there profession, which is precisely why they have achieved because they have those skill sets/talent. I wonder what the quotes would be like at the other end of the chain the small cafe, school kitchen, catering business. Thoughts

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    • A very good thought!!! When I was younger, I worked in a fast food establishment – washed a lot of pots and pans. Even so, I look back fondly at the camaraderie that we had in the “back” kitchen. We took great pride in serving the best hamburger or pizza. Last year I read, “Jacques Pepin: The Apprentice – My Life in the Kitchen.” This is an extraordinary narrative of Jacques Pepin’s life in France and in the United States. His life was not easy, yet his resilience and courage carried him through. From the very beginning he knew that he wanted to be a chef, but it was his business acumen, ingenuity and creativity that propelled him to the top. These skill-sets are essential for operating a small cafe, school kitchens or a catering business. Thank you for your comments and visit – very much appreciated!!!

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    • Schnee! Es muss sehr schön sein. Wir sind mit Sonnenschein, aber ich hörte Schnee kann in ein paar Tagen kommen. Vielen Dank für Ihre Kommentare. Ich freue mich auf Ihren Besuch.

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  2. I love kitchens especially when someone else is doing the cooking. I have fond memories of so many kitchens.

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    • I so agree – especially when someone else is in charge. As far as I can remember, most of the important decisions in my life were made around the kitchen table.

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      • No better place to make those decisions. And do you really get crazy-busy? You seem so calm and collected.

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      • You are very kind! Yes, there was a time I was crazy-busy. I took pride in doing many things and thought that the more I did, the more alive I would feel. I now follow a different way and have taken the road less traveled. And that has made all of the difference.

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  3. When I visit someone’s house, the first part of the house I want to see is the kitchen. By seeing it I am able know who is the best chef in that house, by other words the wife or her husband. You are a talented person in writing anything you posted. Interesting, brilliant ideas, and always dense with energy !… I like this post. 🙂

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    • The kitchen is a reflection of the family, the place where discussions take place, and plans are made. It has ever been so… thank you so very much for your kind words of encouragement. They means a great deal to me.

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  4. The first kitchen I remember as a very small child was very large, warm and cozy. Everyone liked to be there. Kitchens are now small and convenient and well arranged and appointed–very good! But we are missing the wonderful atmosphere of that large kitchen of long ago.

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    • I remember the big family table. Whole Foods, in their eating area, has a huge kitchen-style table that seats about 12- 14 people. The other day, I stopped by for a few groceries and noticed that all the seats were taken at the table. And there was plenty of discussion and laughter. We have not forgotten – we merely moved the table location.

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  5. Let me tell you a secret? My kitchen is the place with high symphony!
    🙂

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    • I agree – it does apply to everything. I heard that if you spent one hour a day on a specific subject, you would be an expert within one year. It is in the daily routine – the grudge work – that the best of training occurs. It seems our minds must accumulate, assimilate and integrate knowledge over a period of time.

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  6. Interesting post, Rebecca. I love watching these experts and wish I could be as confident, cooking in front of people. I do love my kitchen though. One thing I can’t stand is a messy kitchen. There’s one family member who throws stuff all over the place. I don’t know how a person can work like that. 🙂

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    • I am with you on that! I find my “stress levels” rise precipitously if chaos reigns. What I appreciate most about these chefs is that all of their ingredients are prepared and laid out in small bowls; All they need to do is to combine them as if they were the conductor of a large orchestra. I also like that it only takes a TV minute to bake a 25 pound turkey. 🙂

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