Tuesday, October 12, 2010

celebrity chefs


Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential asks, "Do you know who is cooking your food?" It's a fair question.

I attribute my query to age. I grew up in a time and place where household help was still a common sight in middle class homes. A family cook, remember the television show Hazel?, was a revered member of the family, just as Anatole was to Uncle Tom and Aunt Dahlia in the Bertie Wooster novels.

Until at least the end of the 60's, a nearby subdivision had a retired community school bus which they used to transport the "domestics" to and from the end of the bus line. We saw it every day and thought nothing of it.

I think about this periodically while watching The Two Fat Ladies. Deep down, I'm troubled by our fascination with celebrity chefs. I'm certain you'd get a good meal at any of the Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey, Emril or one of their countless imitator's spots, but why would you try? It will be perhaps very good, very expensive, beautiful and boring. To me, it feels like going to an expensive McDonalds.
The worst part is to get to one of these joints, you pass a lot of really good local places, with local chefs, local owners trying hard each and every day to survive, and a lot less overhead. Next time you find yourself away from home, perhaps entertaining on the company card, be smart, be creative, eat local.

Who's cooking at Antoine's or Galatore's?



Shelley said...

Watching Jamie Oliver cook reminds me that just about anything tastes pretty good if it has enough salt and olive oil in it. That said, I don't want his waistline. My obsession with cooking is more along the lines of how good and how frugal, not how famous.

Anonymous said...

I'd take a small mom & pop place anyday over a "chain". Not only is the food amazing but the ambiance is usually so much better. - KT

James said...

My favorite local place has a large sign on its front. "Pretty OK Food" A complete lack of pretension that is the mantra for the joint.

Patsy said...

I wholeheartedly agree! My 2 favorite local restaurants at our place up north are owned by their chefs and are consistently great. And consistently full!

MDiskin said...

If you're in a really small town, look for where all the pickups are parked. We drove through Sparkman, Arkansas (pop 600 or so) and saw trucks lined up outside a place called The Fried Pie. Swerved into the parking lot and discovered some good eats, to say the least.