The Defining Moment: When I Became a Chef

Read this great article the other day from Chef  Michael Romano of Union Square Hospitality Group that got me thinking back to my own beginnings (20 years this year!) and similarities between our 2 starts. Both of us credit our mothers & grandmothers and the love found in the food they prepared for no other reason than simple nourishment for their families.

“Throughout my years as a chef, I’ve often reminded cooks never to lose sight of how very special is our work. There are, I’ve told them time and again, many paths in life one may follow that render service, or simply delight, to one’s fellow man. Think of the person who cuts your hair, or sews your clothing, or drives the bus you take to work. Or the person who sings and dances for you, plays the piano, or pitches for your favorite baseball team. As cooks, what we do is unique in that the fruits of our work actually become you, and in that intensely intimate exchange both enormous satisfaction and serious responsibility can and should be found. “

Chef Michael speaks of a picture which hangs in his office that he looks at sometimes glances up to and recalls his experiences & accomplishments since the beginning when he “set out to seduce the world one meal at a time.” 

The picture above, taken in ’93, kept on my bar @ home that takes me back to my own beginnings (CHOPS in Atlanta, part of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group)( .

It all began in Atlanta following Sewanee and the summer restaurant job I held in college to work for a ‘real’ restaurant and the excitement & energy pulled me in for good! The newly opened restaurant received much publicity including a spot on John Mariani’s annual list of Best New Restaurants of the year and a spot on the list of Top 10 Steakhouses in America!

This was taken following my return to the restaurant following a serious car accident in which I almost didn’t survive (hit a parked car on the wrong side of the road following 14 shots of Jager out with fellow cooks after work one night (DEF don’t do that anymore!!). Lost 20 lbs in a week @ the hospital-note my watch hanging on wrist lol and my chef coat being too big!)

Anyways, Chef Paul Bocuse (credited as one of the creators of nouvelle cuisine) was here for his son’s graduation from CIA in Hyde Park and joined some of his chef buds Guenter Seeger (then Exec Chef of Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, Paul Albrecht (Pano’s & Paul’s) and Chef Jean-Louis Palladin (Jean-Louis at the Watergate Hotel DC) for a meal @ CHOPS and I was lucky enough to be one of two cooks asked to be in pic…oh the innocence of my youth lol..


~ by elevatedsouthern on 2011/01/24.

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