They Said It, Not Me

Following are some of my favorite quotes from chefs.

“It’s so good to be classic and not trendy.” ~ Chef Gabrielle Hamilton

My work is based on classic Mediterranean cooking and ingredients that have been around for centuries.  I try hard not to follow trends, trendy ingredients, and the latest and greatest techniques.  I certainly do learn new things, new ingredients, and new techniques but I will always stay true my roots and present classic cuisine first, and add new methods and flavors second.  I think if your work is based on the use of trendy products and techniques it appears forced and exposes a chef’s lack of education, knowledge and experience.  That comes through the food as mediocrity.  Learn the trade before you learn the tricks of the trade.

“A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music.  He understands how things go together.  For a chef, once you have that basis, that’s when cuisine gets really exciting.” ~ The late Charlie Trotter

For me this is closely tied to the previous quote, almost an extension of it or the next step in the thought process.  Classic technique and ingredients are so important when building a solid foundation of knowledge and experience no matter what your cuisine.  I can make you a Thai dish that’s pretty good, and most people would like it a lot.  I can make you a Mediterranean based dish that’s great, and I would be hard pressed to find anyone that didn’t like it.  The difference is that I have a limited knowledge if Thai cooking.  Good enough to pass but never great.  My wide array of knowledge of Mediterranean cooking and ingredients however allows me to draw from a much larger pantry of methods and flavors that I can easily improvise on the classics and go from pretty good to sublime simply based on my knowledge.

“We go through our careers and things happen to us. Those experiences made me what I am.” ~ Chef Thomas Keller

If we learn from the things that happen to us we are truly better for it even if it takes us many years.  One of my goals in the restaurant world is to help young cooks understand how their experiences shape the kind of chefs they’ll become and how they can be happier and more productive in both their careers and in life.  Working for shitty owners and in kitchens with chefs that exhibit a poor example of the profession are no excuse for becoming a solid and respected performer.

“We’re hoping to succeed; we’re okay with failure. We just don’t want to land in between.” ~ Chef David Chang

You want to play it safe?  Mediocrity will be your reward.  Time to take some well-calculated chances.

“When you have made as many mistakes as I have then you can be as good as me.” ~ Chef Wolfgang Puck

I have been through the “trial and error” phase.  Young cooks, you should go through it too.  Your advantage is that I will alert you to the mistakes.

“Chefs are leaders in their own little world.” ~ Chef Eric Ripert

Not everyone understands our world.  That’s OK, let them be critical.  Our gift to them is making them feel better about themselves.  Yes, I’m talking to you anonymous blog commenters.  There is a difference between an educated critique and sitting on your ass bitching and throwing barbs. Your Hot Pocket is ready.

“I would much rather be a chef who remembers I am a cook then a cook that thinks I am a chef.” ~ Chef Ric Peterson

“To me, there’s no great chef without a great team.” ~ Chef Daniel Boulud

This is not just about the kitchen staff, this is about all the people involved in the daily operation of a restaurant.   A breakdown in any area can hinder the performance of other parts of the unit.

“If you have a restaurant with a great chef but no one goes, is he really a great chef? ~ Chef David Kinch

I don’t have anything to say about this one, I just like David Kinch.

“I always thought I was as good as anyone else but I was never in the club.” ~ Chef Jake Bickelhaupt


Have a great weekend folks, thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “They Said It, Not Me

  1. I’ll second that first comment. “If you have a restaurant with a great chef but no one goes, is he really a great chef?” ~ Chef David Kinch This reminds me of the sound of one hand clapping or if a Redwood falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it.


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