Our Mentors

Thank goodness for PBS and their T.V. cooking shows in the ‘70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s.  What would I have done without them! Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Pierre Franey “first you take the chicken”, Anne Willan, Keith Floyd (for his infectious joy of food and sense of the ridiculous), Lorenza di Medici and Lidia Bastianich to name a few. They may have not been “true” mentors in the sense that I never worked side by side with them, learning from them but nevertheless, for a self-taught chef their programmes were invaluable and I absorbed information and techniques like a sponge. Julia gave me the courage to try and learn French cooking techniques and moved me to buy and cook from Mastering the Art, Volumes I and II. I am forever grateful to Jacques for his tips and techniques that really work! Lastly, I should credit my mom for trusting me with cooking weekend dinners for the family! I wonder if she realized that she gave me the gift of confidence in the kitchen and a willingness to try things without fear.

DSC_5705 nx2Over the past month we have lost chefs Marcella Hazan and Charlie Trotter. Seeing the Facebook comments on the passing of these two “giants” tells me that I how much impact these people have on us through media or otherwise.

I was somewhat burned out after working as a cook/chef for 15 + years, so a shift of focus away from food and cooking to achieving a diploma in interior decorating, something I had always been keen to do, sounded like a good idea; I did it! But then fate intervened and we went to Italy for 3 weeks in 2007. With a jolt, I was brought back to my food “roots”. I was in love…amazing produce, amazing products to work with and most of all amazing talented people who made “magic” with the bounty available to them. I had always been crazy about Italian food but until that trip had no real understanding of the cooking styles of the different regions. I am now! I can’t wait to cook there again!

I will never forget our first trip to Panzano to visit Antica Macelleria Cecchini. A few years previously we had been given “Heat”, a book by Bill Bulford. If you haven’t read the book, Bill writes about his time spent working at the Macelleria among other things. It rang a bell! Friends of ours send us wonderful postcards when on a trip, that I keep for reference, so I got them out and looked through the ones sent from Provence and Italy in 2003, yup there it was, he wrote about the fabulous time they had visiting the Macelleria! When we went in that first time, Dario was in the middle of preparing a pig for porchetta (it’s so delicious) and I was mesmerized; I could have stood there all day watching him work.

Almost in the blink of an eye mio passione had been restored to its former glory! It seems to me that cooks are all about sharing their passion with us so we can continue to expand and grow.

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Comments

  1. What a lovely remembrance. I remember those shows. First I watched Julia Child with my dad. In a way, back then it was as much about the cooking as it was a life lesson – an opportunity for me to learn that everything did not have to be spic and span perfect. I was one of those really picky perfectionist kids, and my dad was always pointing out to me how well “Mrs. Child” did, is spite of the rolling egg or errant tn bit of flour. I remember him saying “She is having fun, Adri, and everything turn sout great.” He was always getting me to loosen up!

    There were so many of them. Now when I see the old shows, I look at the minimal production value – no fancy edits, no mattes, just cooking. I love them. I wonder how the young people who have grown up with flashy FoodTV would feel about them??? These folks – all the ones you mention- were titans, and as sorry as I am to see them leave this earth, my heart is warmed by the outpouring of love. Thanks for this!

    • Hi Adri,

      Thanks for such a nice reply! I really miss those old shows. I am very thankful that I was able to see the greats in action! One of Julia’s shows that always brings a smile is when she was making crème brulee and to caramelize the sugar on top, put on a welders’ helmet, including pulling down the visor and lit a huge torch! My brother, who is 14 years younger than me, was watching with me we laughed until we cried! We still talk about that show 30 odd years later!

      There is probably only one food related show we watch these days, it’s Guy Fieri and that is because he is so funny and such a character. We do watch cooking shows when we travel though, most interesting! I wrote a blog post about some of them. Here’s the link if you would like to have a quick read. If you can, check out the links, there’s some pretty funny stuff there!http://oracibo.com/4611/food-networks-are-everywhere/

      Ciao, P

  2. Nice homage to old school cooking teachers and ways. I of course was too young to be part of that era but my grandmother always watched those shows while I played and some of it has rubbed off on me. I love finding those old videos and seeing the pure essence of what cooking is all about.

    Buford. What a character. Have you seen his Food Doc. “Fat Man in a White Hat”? About him training French country bakeries and restaurants..

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