Anyway, I wanted to write a bit about the vexing personalities of most of the well known chefs I have had the luck to cook and bake with. In my short culinary career, I have had the honor of cooking with Patricia Wells, Rick Bayless, and some highly decorated pastry chefs at Le Cordon Bleu.
I took several hands-on cooking classes with Patricia Wells at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. They bring in famous chefs and offer seminars, always combined with an exceptional sommelier from some vineyard. Ms. Wells was very , very nice. She is not a talker, but quite reserved and serious. But I found her to be approachable and gentle. We sat with her and her husband, Walter, at most meals. he was the calling card of the two. He loved Bill and he was funny and witty. I liked cooking with her, but I would have liked more taxing menus to learn. I am sure that she geared her menu to something everyone there could participate in, but I left wishing I had more. Like when you have to go through a drive in when you really want La Grenouille. Someone who had gone to Provence and was there ( oddly, from Fort Wayne! Yea! What are the chances?) said she taught the same recipe there one day. But I know it is difficult to teach cooking classes, particularly if you are not in your own kitchen, so I could understand this menu she choose. She was comfortable with it, and she knew we would be too. It was fun and we all laughed a lot.
Everything you read and see on T.V. about most male chefs is true, so far as I have known. They are smug, arrogant, and full of themselves. Rick Bayless would did not even ask us our names, all of us who were assisting him when he came here. I asked if I could take his picture after cooking for him for, for free, at least 12 hours straight and you would have thought I handed him a dead cat. I cooked beside him on the line and he did not even look me in the eye. He definitely favored the other males chefs who were volunteering to cook for him. (There were only 4 of us women.)
Rick Bayless on the right. I had to snap this when he was not looking.
The chefs at Le cordon Bleu were nicer than this, but undisputedly ruled the kitchen. Of course, as there were several of them, there were various personalities. Once we got to know the personality of that chef, it was easier to breathe. Still, the weird thing about the Le Cordon Bleu chefs as a whole, and maybe this is just because they were French, (which is a whole other blog-worthy topic!) was their mercurial nature. It was like what they say brain washers do to their victims. One minute they were funny and warm, so you might let down your guard and crack a joke, thinking they will laugh, and then WHAM, they were as serious as a heart attack and looked at you with total disdain. It turns you into a whipped dog. I became submissive and quiet. Not my personality I know, but one does what one has to to survive.
Chef Energizer Bunny (nice chef, really helpful),left and Chef Tres Horrible, right. In Chef Tres Horrible's words, " I do not know what happened to zees cake, but throw zees in ze garbage!"
I DO want to say that there are MANY wonderful, SANE chefs out there. But they do not make good blog fodder. Carlton, Aaron Butts, Pam Downs, Cat Cora xoxoxoxo to you.
People say doctors have a God complex, but they are not the only ones. There is a joke that goes like this. A chef dies and goes to Heaven. He sees there is a very long line to get through the Pearly Gates, so he struts up to Saint Peter and says, " I was a very famous chef on Earth and I cannot wait in this long line with all these people. I have vegetables to turn and souffles to bake. I must go in toute suite!" Saint Peter looks at him with patience and says, "Here we are all God's children. You must take your place in the back of the line and wait your turn like everyone else." The chef grumbles and walks to the back, where he stands in line. Soon, a man walks by in a tall toque, chef's coat, holding a whisk, and strides straight through the Pearly Gates. The chef was aghast! He runs up to Saint Peter and exclaims," I was just here and you told me to wait my turn at the back." Saint Peter says, "Yes? " The chef says, " But I just saw another chef stroll right through the Gates, no waiting! " Saint Peter says, "Oh, him? That's not a chef. That's God. He just thinks he's a chef."
I think this about sums it up.