It’s funny, ever since Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential was published, several years ago, the idea of promoting chefs as talented degenerates with knifes, has become the rage. My editor recently sent me a link to Marco Pierre White’s new book. Once again it glamorizes the bad boy genius with a pan image.
There is nothing wrong with this; I simply find it humorous that we misfits have suddenly become rock stars, for what I perceive as no good reason at all. I have spent my entire career working with and around many of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the United States and the globe. When I was young I consumed drugs and waitresses with a voracity that could only be matched by my passion for cooking. I’ve raced motorcycles and carried weapons. I have six tattoos, four daughters, a beautiful well educated wife, a nice home, and a cat. Long story short, when it comes to being a bad boy, not only do I fit the bill; I might have helped write it.
The funny thing is, in my heart I have always been a softie, who likes kids and Sesame Street. I don’t yell at people in the kitchen anymore. I simply hire chefs who are well trained and professional enough that I don’t have scream at them to get the job done.
I guess somewhere along the line (I will be turning fifty this year) I turned into a grown up and maybe a fairly conservative one at that. I don’t work in restaurants anymore, nor to I desire own another one. Because I love my children and I actually enjoy being an active father. Then when they are napping I do things like plant tomatoes and water my flowers.
When it comes to cooking, I put my heart and soul into what I do. I work my ass off and I expect those around me to do the same. But on the other hand, I have learned that there are much more important things in life than what people think of me or my food. I do the best I can and my clients either like or they don’t (fortunately, they enjoy the fruits of my labor).
It’s great that these guys can make millions telling all of you the nasty stories, along with the ins and outs of their brilliance. But the bottom line is, ultimately all of us chefs and I don’t care what your name is, are simply men and women who love to cook. We work hard to learn a difficult and time consuming trade and we do our best to make people happy. Sure, some of us are smarter, more talented and luckier than others. But aside from the small group of famous chefs cashing in at the bank, there are another few million cooks around the world having sex in back alley’s of restaurants for only a few bucks an hour.
Fact is people all over the world, in all kinds of professions are the same; chefs are no different than anyone else. It’s just that for some weird reason the focus seems to be on us at the moment.
Don’t worry, someday plumbers will be the rock stars of the world, and I’m sure they have some great stories to tell as well.