No one wants to cook for me! Or when they do, they prepare elaborate meals much to the dismay of my growing waist line. I'm running five miles a day just to try and keep it all in check. I know this doesn't sound like a real problem but I was hoping to come home to California and get fit. I suppose this is the yummy price I pay for returning home from cooking in a 3-star restaurant in Paris.
My own mother – the best cook in the world – who has cooked for me for over thirty years now gets nervous in the kitchen and questions all her decisions. It's terrible! Some friend's last night made a fantastic meal for us that obviously took two days to prepare. Our hostess confided that her husband spent hours pouring over cookbooks and wouldn't let her near the kitchen during prep.
Cooking school teaches you technique. It doesn't mean that you grow superior taste buds or transform you into the next Guy Savoy. And it certainly doesn't replace home cooked meals. And cooking in restaurants – even 3-star one's – gives the repetitive experience of cooking the same things over and over and over. Sure I have the good fortune of watching exciting dishes be created by master chefs, but we also have a staff of thirty-six chefs to pull it all together.
Cooking is an art form and we all have our personal tastes and styles. That is what makes sharing meals so special because they are reflective of our experiences and backgrounds. I've had peanut butter balls made by kindergartners that I thought were the best things on earth and fancy shmancy expensive restaurant dinners that I thought were terrible. So there you have it.
The pressure of cooking at home is now more extreme for me than the pressure in the restaurant because everyone is like, "Oh you're a trained chef, I'm sure this is going to be incredible". Uh, hello – fear of failure?!?! I would rather be yelled at point blank by the Chef de Cuisine than have that stress hanging overhead.
In France, no one would even dare call themselves a chef with less than fifteen years in the business. So really, most of us cooking school grads now working in restaurants are merely cooks.
As one of my favorite chefs at Le Cordon Bleu used to say, "Food that looks good never tastes good. I'd rather eat a family cooked meal any day of the week" then of course he'd demo a 3-star meal for us and we'd gobble it down. But seriously, I think he's right.