Come and Take It...Our Passion!

 

"We’d all come from kitchens that were run with a rod of iron and you were barked at and berated. And those kitchens were full of people who didn’t really like food. Fergus wasn’t like that. He wanted us to eat and drink when we finished; he wanted us to learn. There were no recipes, no set routines. You either got it, or you didn’t. We were prepared to follow him."- From Snout To Tail

#pepin #chef #passion #foodie #cooks #cook #thecocineros

#pepin #chef #passion #foodie #cooks #cook #thecocineros

There are some basic core values that every good cook must possess in order to make it in this business. Let’s look at them one at a time.

1. Passion

Without a great deal of drive and love for this craft you will not survive. You may see some chefs reach fame and celebrity, but that is very rare, and none of those chefs have made it to where they are without a great deal of passion for their craft. If you don’t cook from your heart, and put your best plate forward every time, whether making a BLT for yourself at home, or feeding foie gras to the queen, you aren’t cut out for this.

2. Sacrifice

This is perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome. You will likely never be rich. You likely won’t even have a great family life. You may not be there for your loved ones during their special moments in life. Chances are you won’t even be able to get the night off for that big concert you saved up for. Too bad! Suck it up princess and get back on line. We work in the restaurant business. When our friends are getting up and fighting traffic on their way to work, we are still in bed, sleeping off a hangover. When they are calling it a day and heading to their favorite watering hole to drown their sorrows, we are just gearing up for a busy dinner service. This isn’t a Monday to Friday gig where you get to go home when the store closes. You come in as early as need be, you work as long as chef tells you to and you go home when the job is done. If that doesn’t work for you go sell cardigans at The Gap.

3. Loyalty

My last point leads me to this point. You will be spending endless hours in tight confines with your teammates. Kitchens are small, dark, and hot. The days are long, and the breaks are few and far between. It’s imperative that you get along with the people you work with. Spending so much time together means they will feel more like family than your own flesh and blood. You can’t take them for granted either. Your actions have a direct affect on them and their livelihood. If you duck out early without cleaning up your share of the work, they will feel it. If you call in sick because you had a few too many pops after work the night before, it’s your co-workers who will pick up the slack. Great cooks understand the importance of loyalty to your team and living up to your end of the family code.

4. A Thick Skin

If you are sensitive, or tend to get emotional over little things, this really isn’t the industry for you. I have been called every name under the sun, even had pots and pans flung in my general direction. I even worked for a chef that screamed so hard every day it took me three months of working with him to realize that beet red wasn’t his natural skin tone. He was a real treat, swearing at us in French, German and English. This kind of work environment can only be compared to that of joining the military. Good chefs will break you down, to build you back up. Only the strong who takes it replies “Yes Chef!” can.

5. Character

You need to possess real character and integrity to survive in this game. You are only as good as your word and your work ethic. Deciding to call in sick via text, or having your mom negotiate your vacation days is not going to earn you any favors from your chef. In the past 20 years I can count on one hand the amount of times I failed to show up for duty, and every time I did it was because I was not physically capable of working. I can also tell you that the overwhelming guilt I felt for letting my chef and my team down almost always outweighed the injury or illness. I once had 450°F grease poured down my shoe, removed my sock, bit the bullet and kept working. Why would someone do that you ask? Because someone has to do it. If you don’t possess character, integrity and a commitment to get the job done no matter what the cost, don’t bother showing up.

6. A Twisted Sense of Humor

Do you blush when someone says penis? Then you better run. Maybe there is something in the water we drink, or the tight working quarters we are cramped in, but career cooks and chefs tend to be filthy, vain, loose-lipped and willing to spew just about anything out of their mouths. The language and degree of crudeness coming from behind a hot kitchen line can only be compared to that of a pirate ship. We say what’s on our minds, whether you like it or not. If you’re sensitive or touchy feel-y you will not survive.

7. Humility

It’s important that you never let your ego get in the way of true success. It doesn’t matter what some food critic said about you last night, it’s about the meal you are about to serve. You must always strive for better, knowing that you are only as good as the last plate you served and there is always room to grow.

8. Be a Sponge

No matter how many years you have cooked there is always something more you can learn. I remember learning a trick for cleaning lamb racks from a dishwasher who picked it up while working at Canoe in Toronto. In that moment I was reminded that if I am open to learning, I can learn from anyone. There is always more you can know and new tricks or techniques to learn. I have yet to meet a chef who knows everything about cooking and I know I never will.

9. Love for the Craft

Above all else, you MUST love cooking. You have to feel it deep inside you. That glow or buzz you feel when someone tastes your creation for the first time and their eyes light up. That high you get from crushing a busy dinner service with nothing but empty plates coming back to the kitchen, that’s what has to keep you coming back. We don’t do it for fame; we don’t do it for TV shows or million dollar contracts. We do it for the sheer joy of cooking and because if we didn’t do this we wouldn’t know what else we would be doing. The reality that you don’t see on “reality” TV is that the chances of becoming a true celebrity chef are so small that it shouldn’t even be on your radar. For every celeb chef out there, there are a million cooks grinding it out service after service for little more than minimum wage. Just about all of those celeb chefs that have made it can tell you that they have spent 20 years or more of paying their dues, working their tails off night after night before they even got noticed. So don’t even bother considering doing this career for the glory of it all. Do it for the love of food. The truth is, you can taste the difference in someone’s food when they love what they are doing.

So, if you really want to become a chef, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you possess these basic values. If and only if you do then it’s time to begin your path. Find the chef you respect the most, call him/her up, email him/her, stop in with your resume, offer to work for free until you’ve proved yourself, and get your foot in the door. If you start like this, stay humble, be a sponge, soaking up whatever people are willing to teach you, then someday, just someday, you will be worthy of being called Chef!

There are some basic core values that every good cook must possess in order to make it in this business. Let’s look at them one at a time.

1. Passion

Without a great deal of drive and love for this craft you will not survive. You may see some chefs reach fame and celebrity, but that is very rare, and none of those chefs have made it to where they are without a great deal of passion for their craft. If you don’t cook from your heart, and put your best plate forward every time, whether making a BLT for yourself at home, or feeding foie gras to the queen, you aren’t cut out for this.

2. Sacrifice

This is perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome. You will likely never be rich. You likely won’t even have a great family life. You may not be there for your loved ones during their special moments in life. Chances are you won’t even be able to get the night off for that big concert you saved up for. Too bad! Suck it up princess and get back on line. We work in the restaurant business. When our friends are getting up and fighting traffic on their way to work, we are still in bed, sleeping off a hangover. When they are calling it a day and heading to their favorite watering hole to drown their sorrows, we are just gearing up for a busy dinner service. This isn’t a Monday to Friday gig where you get to go home when the store closes. You come in as early as need be, you work as long as chef tells you to and you go home when the job is done. If that doesn’t work for you go sell cardigans at The Gap.

3. Loyalty

My last point leads me to this point. You will be spending endless hours in tight confines with your teammates. Kitchens are small, dark, and hot. The days are long, and the breaks are few and far between. It’s imperative that you get along with the people you work with. Spending so much time together means they will feel more like family than your own flesh and blood. You can’t take them for granted either. Your actions have a direct affect on them and their livelihood. If you duck out early without cleaning up your share of the work, they will feel it. If you call in sick because you had a few too many pops after work the night before, it’s your co-workers who will pick up the slack. Great cooks understand the importance of loyalty to your team and living up to your end of the family code.

4. A Thick Skin

If you are sensitive, or tend to get emotional over little things, this really isn’t the industry for you. I have been called every name under the sun, even had pots and pans flung in my general direction. I even worked for a chef that screamed so hard every day it took me three months of working with him to realize that beet red wasn’t his natural skin tone. He was a real treat, swearing at us in French, German and English. This kind of work environment can only be compared to that of joining the military. Good chefs will break you down, to build you back up. Only the strong who takes it replies “Yes Chef!” can.

5. Character

You need to possess real character and integrity to survive in this game. You are only as good as your word and your work ethic. Deciding to call in sick via text, or having your mom negotiate your vacation days is not going to earn you any favors from your chef. In the past 20 years I can count on one hand the amount of times I failed to show up for duty, and every time I did it was because I was not physically capable of working. I can also tell you that the overwhelming guilt I felt for letting my chef and my team down almost always outweighed the injury or illness. I once had 450°F grease poured down my shoe, removed my sock, bit the bullet and kept working. Why would someone do that you ask? Because someone has to do it. If you don’t possess character, integrity and a commitment to get the job done no matter what the cost, don’t bother showing up.

6. A Twisted Sense of Humor

Do you blush when someone says penis? Then you better run. Maybe there is something in the water we drink, or the tight working quarters we are cramped in, but career cooks and chefs tend to be filthy, vain, loose-lipped and willing to spew just about anything out of their mouths. The language and degree of crudeness coming from behind a hot kitchen line can only be compared to that of a pirate ship. We say what’s on our minds, whether you like it or not. If you’re sensitive or touchy feel-y you will not survive.

7. Humility

It’s important that you never let your ego get in the way of true success. It doesn’t matter what some food critic said about you last night, it’s about the meal you are about to serve. You must always strive for better, knowing that you are only as good as the last plate you served and there is always room to grow.

8. Be a Sponge

No matter how many years you have cooked there is always something more you can learn. I remember learning a trick for cleaning lamb racks from a dishwasher who picked it up while working at Canoe in Toronto. In that moment I was reminded that if I am open to learning, I can learn from anyone. There is always more you can know and new tricks or techniques to learn. I have yet to meet a chef who knows everything about cooking and I know I never will.

9. Love for the Craft

Above all else, you MUST love cooking. You have to feel it deep inside you. That glow or buzz you feel when someone tastes your creation for the first time and their eyes light up. That high you get from crushing a busy dinner service with nothing but empty plates coming back to the kitchen, that’s what has to keep you coming back. We don’t do it for fame; we don’t do it for TV shows or million dollar contracts. We do it for the sheer joy of cooking and because if we didn’t do this we wouldn’t know what else we would be doing. The reality that you don’t see on “reality” TV is that the chances of becoming a true celebrity chef are so small that it shouldn’t even be on your radar. For every celeb chef out there, there are a million cooks grinding it out service after service for little more than minimum wage. Just about all of those celeb chefs that have made it can tell you that they have spent 20 years or more of paying their dues, working their tails off night after night before they even got noticed. So don’t even bother considering doing this career for the glory of it all. Do it for the love of food. The truth is, you can taste the difference in someone’s food when they love what they are doing.

So, if you really want to become a chef, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you possess these basic values. If and only if you do then it’s time to begin your path. Find the chef you respect the most, call him/her up, email him/her, stop in with your resume, offer to work for free until you’ve proved yourself, and get your foot in the door. If you start like this, stay humble, be a sponge, soaking up whatever people are willing to teach you, then someday, just someday, you will be worthy of being called Chef!

One of these, at least, is a gimme. The stories linking oysters and other shellfish to lust go back to at least the ancient Greeks.

Think of the image of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

"There’s something primal about eating oysters," says oyster-lover MJ Gimbar. He describes them as creamy and velvety. "It’s like a kiss from the ocean."

Paul Bocuse, president founder of the Bocuse d’Or
The Bocuse d’Or (the Concours mondial de la cuisine, World Cooking Contest) is a biennial world chef championship. Named for the chef Paul Bocuse, the event takes place during two days near the end of January in Lyon, France at the SIRHA International Hotel, Catering and Food Trade Exhibition, and is one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions.

The event is frequently referred to as the culinary equivalent of the Olympic Games,though the International Exhibition of Culinary Art in Germany is more officially titled the Culinary Olympicsand is separated by an olympiad, i.e. a period of four years.

THE CHEF ATE TOO MUCH. Decades of tasting Bresse chicken—cooked in a pig’s bladder and served in a cream and egg-yolk sauce— his famed black truffle and foie gras soup, his seared foie gras and puff pastries had clogged Paul Bocuse’s arteries. On doctor’s orders, the grande chef of France would be splayed out in the operating room much like the hare à la royale rabbits he’d carved table-side for so many years. When Bocuse was a boy, growing up in the kitchens of Lyon, a triple bypass was hardly the routine operation it is now. Still, having your chest sliced open is enough for any man to take stock of his years.
Bocuse’s achievements are legendary. L’Auberge du Pont de Collouges, his flagship restaurant in Lyon, has maintained its three-Michelin-starred ranking for more than four decades, longer than any restaurant on the planet. Bocuse also has pedigree. Not only does he represent the fourth generation in a family of chefs that served up recipes once prepared for the French monarchy, he also left home as a young man to study under the fabled Fernand Point, considered the founding father of modern French cooking. Back then, one of Bocuse’s duties was to uncork a bottle of Dom Pérignon every morning and serve Point his customary first glass of champagne. From his position in the kitchen, where he prepared dishes for celebrities like Rita Hayworth, the seeds of higher ambition were planted.


Bocuse’s other genius as a chef has been to combine that ambition with an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit. Chefs like to say Bocuse was the first “to step out of the kitchen,” meaning he parlayed his charm into brand power, then parlayed that brand power into a lucrative culinary empire. In Lyon, Bocuse opened so many restaurants that city officials named a market after him. In the fashion of Donald Trump, he became famous just for being himself. He showed that chefs could be as rich as their owners and the guests they’re serving. And even as his empire grew, he never altered his persona. “He might fly around the world on private jets, but he’s always the same Paul from Lyon,” says Jerome Bocuse, his son.
Bocuse also lives by his own rules. He once described his version of married life, saying he’d spent 145 years in a relationship. Explaining the math, he calculated that he’d been married to his first wife, Raymonde, for over 60 years, coupled with his first mistress, Raymone, for 50, and his second mistress, Patricia, for 35. Bocuse’s power of seduction is such that all three women have shared their lives with him, each other and their children. (“I adore women,” Bocuse once said. “We live too long these days to spend a whole life with only one.”)
But for all Paul Bocuse has obtained, there is one thing the 86-year-old wants very badly and still does not have. Jerome has listened to his father talk about it for more than two decades. It has become something of an obsession. “His wish,” Jerome says, “is for an American to win the Bocuse d’Or.”
THE BOCUSE D’OR IS THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS cooking competition in the world. Held in Lyon every two years (and falling this year at the end of January), the contest is a chance for chefs from around the globe to make a name for themselves. While there is an official cooking Olympics in Germany, chefs refer to the Bocuse d’Or as the real Olympics of high cuisine. “It has no competition really,” says Priscilla Ferguson, professor of sociology at Columbia and author of Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine. Unlike reality shows such as Top Chef and Iron Chef America, there are no commercial breaks. The food is whipped up on stage in front of a live audience over five and a half grueling hours. The winning creations must be masterpieces, exploding with flavor and inspiring awe with their artistry.
The event started off as a gimmick. In the late ’80s, organizers for the SIRHA food and restaurant show, hoping to draw bigger crowds, approached Bocuse about lending his name to a live cooking contest. Bocuse’s connections were such that he had no trouble persuading premier chefs around the world to start organizations in their own countries to select and support contestants. “He’d be good at Chicago precinct politics,” Ferguson says, calling Bocuse “an arm-twister of mega proportions.”
Bocuse believed competing chefs ought to embody the pillar of classic French cooking: perfection. As a young apprentice in Point’s kitchen, Bocuse developed an appreciation for the days of preparation behind a recipe like Bresse poulet—and the years required to master it. Another secret to this level of haute French cuisine is the efficiency of the cooking staff, known as the brigade. French chefs have turned their kitchens into military operations, training apprentices the way war generals do: through fear. In Point’s kitchen, if the chef saw a plate with a nick in the rim, he would wait for a waiter to reach for it, then grab the dish and let it drop, shattering it to pieces.
For his contest, Bocuse wanted chefs to strive for the same level of devotion to craft. Bocuse and organizers revealed the type of meat and fish used in the competition more than a year in advance, giving a chef ample time to create a vision and master its execution.
In competition, the Americans struggled. While most competitors over the years have been trained in classic French techniques, the unfussiness of American cooking was at odds with the precision the Bocuse judges (all chefs) were looking for. The molecular gastronomy craze has also led to Willy Wonka cuisine, food that looks like one thing but tastes like another—a further departure from classic French cooking.
Beyond differences in philosophy, the main problem for American contestants was organization and money. The winning teams—mostly from France, Norway or Sweden—had developed foundations that supported training and coaching a chef for months. In contrast, Americans complained that they had to raise money themselves while training and working their shifts. They were competing on raw talent alone, which wasn’t enough to get on the podium in Lyon. In two decades, the highest any American had placed was sixth.
Paul Bocuse had a special affinity for the Americans. Fighting the Nazis during World War II, he’d been shot in the chest and given a transfusion of American blood. As a gesture of appreciation, Bocuse flies an American flag outside his flagship restaurant. The chef-impresario also understands that the U.S. is the biggest media market in the world, and the best way for the Bocuse d’Or to tap into it is for an American chef to succeed in the competition. And if the Americans couldn’t develop the right kind of organization to support and train a chef, Bocuse would do it himself.
THE TRIPLE BYPASS was a success. In the six years since the operation, Bocuse has enacted a kind of global-domination strategy. To the East, he’s licensed out his name to eight brasseries in Japan. To the West, he’s transferred ownership of Les Chefs de France at Epcot Center to Jerome and opened Monsieur Paul there, while another new restaurant with the Bocuse name opened at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Since his recovery, Bocuse feels younger, reborn. “Tout nouveau,” he tells me from his restaurant in Lyon, adding a one-liner that makes the translator laugh. “He says, ‘I’m ready to plan the future now.’ ” For him, that future has revolved around the cooking competition that bears his name.
“He came to me and said, ‘I need for you to do two things,’ ” recalls chef Daniel Boulud. “First, he says, ‘I want you to run the American team [for Bocuse d’Or].’ The second, he says, ‘I want you to get Thomas Keller to be the president.’ “
Boulud’s reaction was instinctive. “Oui, chef,” he said, echoing words he’d uttered the first time he’d met Bocuse, more than four decades earlier, as a chef’s apprentice in Lyon. Though Boulud was concerned about funding, he was confident his connections and clientele could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause. The real challenge would be getting Keller to sign on.
Keller is, arguably, the most high-profile chef in The U.S.—the only restaurateur to run a pair of three-Michelin-starred restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se, simultaneously. Like Bocuse and Boulud, Keller also has a knack for branding and empire building, but his style is soft and understated. Unlike Bocuse and Boulud, his name is not found on any of his restaurants. And Keller is a true Francophile, with an outsider’s appreciation for its culinary traditions, as handed down by maestros like Point and Bocuse.
When they discussed the idea, Boulud was shrewd enough not to give Keller a hard sell. Instead, he told him to expect a call. When the phone rang, on the other end of the line, in Lyon, was Bocuse. After hearing the old chef’s frail voice, Keller’s response was the same as Boulud’s had been. “Oui, chef,” he said.
So far, however, the dream team of Boulud and Keller has produced mixed results. While the superstar chefs have helped raise more than $4 million since they got involved, the return on those donations has been modest. In 2009—their first year running the effort together—the chef sent to Lyon to represent America was Timothy Hollingsworth, a Keller protégé who was reluctant to compete and submitted his application late. Hollingsworth put up a decent showing, finishing sixth, tying the American best.
Realizing the next chef would need more time to train, the American team sponsored a paid sabbatical for James Kent, then sous chef at Eleven Madison Park. But Kent seemed intimidated by his superstar mentors (who brought on advisors like Grant Achatz, Tom Colicchio and others). He placed tenth.
The Americans wondered if their chances might improve by sending a chef experienced in cooking competitions, somebody accustomed to the long preparation the Bocuse d’Or requires. And then there were the contest rules, which some felt left them at a disadvantage. This year would be different: The chef and his fellow contest organizers decided to change the format of the competition, resulting in a controversial departure from Bocuse’s original vision. The new rules, arguably designed to level the playing field, call for the kind of spontaneity found in restaurants and on popular televised cooking shows. This year, chefs were told the meat selection (Irish beef) six months before the competition, as opposed to a year, and the fish two months ahead of time. Chefs will be judged on a new criteria: incorporating elements of their country’s cuisine into their creations. They will also be thrown a new challenge—creating garnishes purchased at market the morning prior to the contest.
While some coaches and chefs applaud the improvisation the new rules will bring to the event, traditionalists worry they will undercut the precision of the cuisine, as once espoused by Bocuse himself. “I was disappointed,” says Peter Jelksäter, coach of Sweden, which has landed silver medals in 2011 and 2009. With all the new rules, chefs will be compelled to be more creative, he feels. “Many of the chefs that compete in this competition are trying to reach the levels of Paul Bocuse, and they come so close to perfection because they are able to train for such a long time. They can really tear the ingredients apart. That’s what takes the competition out of the everyday kitchen.”
Jakob de Neergaard, president of the Danish team that won the gold medal in 2011, says that many European countries were wary of Bocuse meddling with the American team. “When you think about it, you begin to say, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ ” But in the end, Neergaard believes Bocuse’s wish won’t help the Americans. “It’s all about taste,” he says from Copenhagen. “I just hope the Americans found the guy with the right taste—and let him train until he bleeds to death.”
EIGHTY FOUR DAYS, 13 hours, 34 minutes and three seconds to go,” says Richard Rosendale, this year’s American contes- tant. We’re standing in the war room, which is also in the bunker, built by the federal government as a secret fallout shelter for Congress in the event of a nuclear war. The bunker is hidden in plain sight at The Greenbrier, the resort in West Virginia where Rosendale works as executive chef and oversees its culinary apprenticeship program. Prepping for the Bocuse d’Or from behind Cold War–era, 30-ton steel- blast doors makes for a cute story line in the windup to Lyon, but the real significance of the bunker is the kitchen Rosendale has built here—a to-the-inch replica of the space in Lyon where he and his commis, Corey Siegel, a recent Greenbrier grad, will cook. Rosendale installed a new floor, among countless other purchases. “There’s $150,000 in here, at least,” he says.
The war room is down the hall. Inside, there’s a countdown clock above his computer (password: goingforgold) and pinups of winning platters from previous years; covert pictures snapped of 2011 winner Rasmus Kofoed (“Look, I can see that he’s using the mats on his heater—that’s smart, no slipping”); and a calendar mapping out his training schedule from now until January 29, the day the competition begins.
For Rosendale, who grew up in blue-collar Uniontown, Pennsylvania, official birthplace of the Big Mac, the journey to the Bocuse d’Or has been a long one. An aggressive kid, he was always getting into fights, and his grades suffered. For pocket money, he started bussing plates and made his debut in the kitchen when another cook called in sick. He found the focus and speed of the kitchen a peaceful way to channel his youthful anger. After completing two 3-year apprenticeships, Rosendale found another outlet for his fighting spirit: cooking competitions. He liked the intensity and found that they pushed him to learn new skills under pressure, not to mention promoting his abilities to other chefs around the world. He went on to compete in more than 40, winning and placing in several. But the big contest that’s always eluded him has been the Bocuse d’Or. “The biggest ego trip in cooking,” he says.
After placing second in the runoffs in 2009, Rosendale didn’t leave much to chance during the qualifiers last summer. Inspired by the shape of his children’s Mr. Potato Head toy, Rosendale repurposed the plastic head as a mold, stuffed it with chicken meat, layered rows of cornbread stuffing (light in color) and winter truffle butter (dark in color), and wrapped the entire creation in chicken skin. Out of the oven, the dish looked like a perfectly roasted chicken, but when sliced into, another dimension was revealed: The chicken had stripes—of truffle butter and cornbread— like the hide of a zebra. “A lot of what the judges are looking for is that ‘wow factor,’ ” he says.
Secrecy for a contest of this scale is critical. The blueprints for Rosendale’s platters are all mapped out on boards, but he turns them over so I can’t see them. After some coaxing, he confesses that one of his garnishes will be a souped-up carrot. “It tastes more like a carrot than a carrot does.” For the meat, he’s imported and customized a mini-barbecue from Japan to sear the Irish beef. He may dust it with horseradish chips, and he’s also toying with a potato dumpling concept.
For practice sessions, Rosendale has created a Bocuse d’Or simulator. Before he and Siegel start their five-and- a-half-hour prep run, he puts a CD in the sound system and turns up the volume. The album is a compilation of audience noise recorded during previous contests: the cacophonous blare of cowbells from the Swiss team; the Mexicans’ mariachi band; and the pulsing Euro beats of the event’s deejay. In the bunker, Rosendale feels like he’s cooking off in Lyon.
In a final act of hyper organization, he, Siegel and coach Gavin Kaysen decide to travel to France three months ahead of the competition. The mission: Testing out rental vans to make sure they’re big enough to hold his equipment.
During the trip, the Americans are invited to Bocuse’s restaurant for an honorary lunch, and when they arrive, the chef is waiting out front dressed in his cooking whites. He shows them the kitchen, then poses for pictures before seating them. At the table, Siegel notices how audaciously Bocuse brands himself. When menus are passed around, he sees that the photo on the front is of him—posing with Bocuse only minutes earlier. Somehow, the restaurant has already printed the image on the menu, which Bocuse has signed. The Bocuse name is everywhere: lining the rim of the bowl of soup; the soup spoon, used to ladle his famed black truffle and foie gras soup—served at $100 per bowl—is stamped with his initials.
Three hours later, the group is delirious, drugged with a hypnotic cocktail of truffles, duck liver, champagne, wine, unpasteurized cheese and petits fours. From the kitchen, Bocuse emerges once again to a round of applause and to pose for final pictures with the Americans. Before leaving, Bocuse gives Siegel a gift: a hard-shell cover imprinted with his signature for a smartphone—a new Bocuse product.
Bocuse also gives him a warning. Before sending the team home, he grips young Siegel’s arm, mutters something in French and makes a gesture with his hand. His finger is out. His hand looks like a gun. Not understanding French, Siegel turns to Kaysen and asks him to translate. Kaysen laughs at the old chef’s line. “He says you better make it onto the podium—or else he’s going to shoot you.”

"A cook, when I dine, seems to me a divine being, who from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race. One considers him as a minister of heaven, because his kitchen is a temple, in which his ovens are the altar." Marc Antoine Desaugiers

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