We had an interesting conversation the other day with Ed. We asked him about why he took the Certified Master Chef exam and he replied "Because I just love to cook." He went on to explain that he never expected to pass (the first time he took the exam), he simply thought it would be a good experience for himself. Ed's a great guy, he's the kind of Chef that you would want to work for just to pick his brain and learn about food and cooking. The best part is that he's very open and willing to share his knowledge. He told a story about a Chef that he respected but didn't really know who reached out to him as a young Chef. The man invited him onto his kitchen and took him under his wing. All these years later I could see how the experience touched him. Ed's still close to that first mentor and he still loves to cook. He shares that spirit of camaraderie among cooks that is crucial to our professional community.
The conversation made me sit back and pause for a while. Alex and I occasionally talk about what's missing from the food scene lately and there was my answer. What I perceive to be missing is often the simple joy of cooking. It may sound like a cliché because it's such an obvious concept. Unfortunately there are many challenges and obstacles that go into opening and running a restaurant. There are many who do retain their delight in preparing food, many more who do not. It's a cyclical thing. There are also many more reasons for people to go into cooking now than there were twenty or thirty years ago. It's not always about being a good cook, it's also about becoming a personality and building careers on food. There are many different branches of the business that have flourished these past ten years. It's been a good thing for all of us. It's also changed the industry's personality in aspects both large and small. We've certainly lost and found the joy many times over the years. My goal this year is to savor it it more consciously. Frankly our lives have improved so much over the past few months that it is much easier to take pleasure in cooking, than it is to remember the stresses of the past. The real challenge is to retain the joy when times are not so pleasant and easy.
We've taken a private cheffing position for the summer. It will take us to Montana for five months, back to the mountains and the wilderness, trout fishing and big skies. Simply put, we took the job because we think it will be fun. There's plenty of cooking to be done and we're eager to be back in a kitchen on a regular basis. The property is beautiful and remote. We're in the process of trying to source out local products. We'll have a small staff to work with and learn from. Miss Patty will be coming with us to guard the kitchen door and we'll be back East in October. It's the best of all worlds for that fragment of time and we'll keep posting from Montana. Confidentiality precludes us from telling you who we work for or exactly where we'll be. On the other hand, the kitchen doors will always be wide open. We'll be driving across country right after Taste 3.
On another note we've been to the theater several times this winter season. Being in the city for a longer period of time allows us to be a bit more rounded and less food-centric in our diversions. I've struck out with my choices again and again, with Alex sitting through each production, musicals and drama, in his inimitable style, that is with relative good humor during and an acid tongue on the way home. Last night we finally found a winner. Allyson took us to see Wicked , her current favorite and a show that she thought even Alex could love. We both did. It was a wonderful production with an engaging story and first rate performances. It's a good illustration of how things can be different below the surface of what you experience. We ended our season on a high note. So if you haven't seen Wicked I urge you to go. Even the seats are larger and more comfortable than in your standard Broadway theater. It may not be the newest show on the block but it's definitely one of the best.