Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Life of a Chef

I spent last evening in the restaurant kitchen of Columbus's most decorated chef--for over four hours I observed the dinner preparation, trying to stay out of the way of Chef and his kitchen minions as they crisscrossed the room with hot saute pans, boiling pots of stock and vats of freshly whipped cream. Chef and I chatted while he chopped scallions and seared racks of lamb, and we enjoyed a sizeable feast together until 11pm, from which I'm still reeling today. I'm just not used to eating that much, and though it was delicious, I'm still in the early stages of gastronomic recovery today.

A few observations:
  • Kitchens are noisy, noisy places--a far cry from the refined banter in the dining room. While I wouldn't trade my experience for anything, the sounds of oven fans, the clanging of pots, the clinking of dishes, and the terse (often tense) exchanges between the kitchen staff all provide a formidable auditory challenge to conducting an actual interview throughout the evening.
  • The life of a chef is far from glamorous. It means 16-hour days, sweating over hot stoves, thinking on your feet, and, in the case of many chefs, never actually being able to see your customers enjoy their meals.
  • It's very difficult for me to eat foie gras--not only do I not like the taste, but I fall squarely into the "it's not ethical" camp as far as that whole debate is concerned. (For a great article on the whole foie gras issue, check out "Should You Give Up Foie Gras?" in the March issue of Bon Appetit.
  • When Chef tells you that you'll be ending the meal with the "dessert symphony" (mini-creme brulee, white and dark chocolate terrine slices, fresh fruit in a crispy tuile cup, and freshly whipped cream, SAVE ROOM. This, by far, was the best part of my day!


Anonymous Reesa said...

That sounds so fun, Renny! And I'm quite jealous of that dessert symphony. On a related note, I took a knife skills class last weekend and can now julienne, chiffonade, and brunoise like a pro (sort of).

10:24 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

Can I make you a guru on MY blog too, ms. chiffonade?

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Renny,
Recently discovered your great to read how you are doing!!!
Miss you,
Jenny S

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Oh the rough life of a food writer :)

Sounds awesome!!!


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Rosenthal said...

I enjoy reading your pieces - and thought I would "e" introduce myself. My name is Andrew Rosenthal... amateur eater but professional architect. We designed the new new store for Jeni in Grandview - glad to hear that you liked it...

11:47 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

Great to "meet" you! You must be so proud of your work on Jeni's's fabulous! Renee

1:30 PM  
Blogger MUD said...

I guess I can share Red's guru status...she doesn't belong to me anymore anyway, not since that boy came into her life...great little piece on the chef in the kitchen, btw!

3:20 PM  

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