I strongly suggest that you visit his site and spend some time enjoying his incredible work.
LIFE IN A BOTTLE – DON THE BANQUET CHEF
by Chef Paul Sourgle; MS, AAC CULINARYCUESBLOG
It is a story, too often in the making. A person, too young dies from self-abuse. It happens frequently in kitchens, the question is why? Now Don, the banquet chef at a hotel where I worked in the early 70’s, was not as young as some, but too young to die, catching everyone for some reason, by surprise.
Don was a real person, someone I worked with early in my career. He was unusual, but not so much by kitchen standards. We tend to attract a different type individual, sometimes introverted, sometimes not; sometimes self-confident, oftentimes not; sometimes full of creativity, sometimes lacking the desire to show what is there, underneath the crust and sandpaper personality. Don was unusual in different ways: he was a very large man (enjoyed eating) with ten kids at home. That’s right – 10! He managed to work, almost non-stop, sometimes arriving as early as 6 a.m. and in the kitchen until after 9 at night. If there was a banquet on the schedule, Don was there.
What Don lacked in finesse with food, he made up for in his ability to handle any number of guests or parties, without much fuss, ensure that hot food was hot and cold food cold, and consistently produce flavorful, attractive food. What was unusual about Don (aside from the 10 kids) was his ability to consume considerable amounts of alcohol without showing any signs of intoxication. In fact, Don drank constantly while at work (back in those days, the chef would turn a blind eye to this).
CHEF ESCOFFIER STILL INSPIRES AFTER 160 YEARS
By Chef Paul Sorgule culinarycuesblog
This framed picture has been hanging on the wall of my office through much of my career. It is a beacon of inspiration that requires me to self-assess and always ask, “Is what I’m doing right now, good enough for Escoffier?” The answer is usually, “No.” Back to the drawing board, work harder, research and learn more; Escoffier is the standard bearer for cooks and chefs. He has held this position for generations. Most chefs I know would consider Escoffier an influence and will likely have a copy of Le Guide Culinaire tucked away somewhere in their office.
Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet, France in 1846. This small town in the south of France was eventually recognized as the home to the most distinguished and influential chefs of all time. In fact, Escoffier is referred to as the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings.
During his 62 year career (must be close to a record) in the kitchen, he was most noted for developing service a ‘la russe (service in courses – a ‘la carte), the implementation of the kitchen brigade (organizational chart with assigned responsibilities) that is still used today, and writing various professional cookbooks – most noteworthy is Le Guide Culinaire with more than 5,000 classic recipes. His repertoire was more extensive than the Grateful Dead’s concert sets.
There are some interesting tidbits in the chef’s history that many people are unfamiliar with. He was a member of the French army during the French/Prussian War where he served as a cook for the upper crust rank of officers. In 1911, Ho Chi Minh trained under Escoffier as a pastry chef in London. And, he learned to control his somewhat rabid temper by taking deep breaths and walking outside around his hotels. Escoffier insisted that his cooks act and look like gentlemen in the kitchen and outside as representatives of his operations. He had to set and example, thus learning to keep his own temper in check.
Escoffier teamed up with the famous hotelier, Cesar Ritz to open and operate world renown hotels: The Savoy in London, Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo, Grand Hotel in Rome, Carlton Hotel in London and the Hotel Ritz in Paris. Rumor has it that he was part of the opening team to prepare the original Ritz Carlton in Boston for operation. He was the consummate hotel chef, defining what a professional kitchen should look and feel like, and elevating hotel cuisine to new heights.
COFFEE, THE REAL MAGICAL BEAN
“I don't know where my ideas come from. I will admit, however, that one key ingredient is caffeine. I get a couple cups of coffee into me and weird things just start to happen.”
― Gary Larson
Isn’t that the case with most of us? Coffee, and the presence of caffeine has become one of those necessities in life. It is, oftentimes, the first thing we consume in the morning and the last thing before sleep. In a restaurants kitchen, coffee is the lifeblood of production. The juice that keeps use motivated to blast through that impossible list of mise en place before service and the fuel that keeps everyone’s senses dialed up to “10” on the volume scale as the printer spits out orders from the dining room.
Can Chefs Get Old and Stay Relevant
I have often caught myself saying that cooking in a professional kitchen is a young persons game. Having left the kitchen for education and then returned at the age of 55, it was obvious to me that certain jobs within a kitchen required physical stamina and mental acuity that comes with youth, however, there were still many other areas of responsibility where mental maturity and experience ruled. The dilemma of age and remaining relevant plagues nearly every profession, but my point of reference can only be what I know, thus I thought it was a topic worth investigating.
An interesting parallel might be the evolution of musical taste and how each age group perceives the other. When I was very young I can remember the impatience that the over 50 crowd had with what we were listening to. On the other hand, I, like my peers, felt that those over 50 were listening to prehistoric tunes that seemed so uninteresting to us. This disparity in preference was, is and will likely always be present. Much of today’s music seems dysfunctional to me and I am sure that the opposite is true with those who have worked with me in the kitchen and are under the age of 30. Oh, well, such is life; right?