I am not here to preach or to stand on any moral high-ground, but I will share this:
We are all spoiled, thoughtless and oblivious. Just Say’n.
I have had the oddest dilemma lately since I have moved to the big city. I do not know how to react-respond-what to do or what not to do, when I am confronted by all the homeless people on EVERY steeet Corner. I get the double whammy of feeling bad. I am in a warm car heading to work or home, wearing a chefs jacket. I believe the homeless and the hungry look at me and think, “What an asshole! He is warm, has a job and works with food, al the time.” That is what I believe they are thinking when they look at me sitting in my car, not trying to make eye contact. I know that’s shitty but I admit it. What am I to do? I’m not going to fake a phone call or act like I’m texting somebody, like a lot of people I have witnessed.
A good friend just shared this video with me. I think it should be passed around. It’s a message taken to heart. I know for a fact, I will never be this guy. But that does not mean that I can’t do something.
I do know this, if I have something or anything to give, I probably will offer it.
What would be the worst thing that can happen? I’m out a buck or five? That’s pretty petty from a guy that is going home from work that tastes food for a living.
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I have been a chef in the Aspen valley for more years than I would like to count. I have been involved in the Food and Wine Classic for most of that time as well. There are so many things to take away from this event; drinking great wine, seeing chefs that you have grown to love, eating food (I say it this way because it can be really good food AND really bad food) and best of all, the people watching.
What I have gained over all these years is great friends. This opportunity would not exist if this event wasn’t created.
In the photo to the left, I am with one of my favorite chefs, as well as my culinary hero Michel Nischan. This guy, to me, is everything the current food world is not. His world is not about cook-offs or super egos (insert the name Tom C. here), it is about FOOD, the love of the craft, doing the right thing. Most of all about giving back.
We have all seen the shows of chefs yelling, judging, acting holier than thou with comments like, “I’m sorry, you’re not moving on… you used just a little too much chive”. Bullshit. This is the benchmark now used to grade chefs and their talent. This is wrong! The only people that are profiting are the show network execs, sarcastic hosts and not so creative product placement departments implying that I could never cook well if I don’t use X tool or Y butter.
Trust me, I know I sound a bit bitter about this but I am really not. There are some great cooks out there doing their best and there are also some really horrible ‘chefs’ out there that cook terrible food. Died in the wool hacks. It is those guys that seem to possess an ego that is completely unjustified, feel that they should be the next big thing-whatever that is, not work hard and make “fuck you” amounts of money. These punks will have an entry level hotel kitchen job in the next few years or never speak about their history again, unless it slips out when they feel they are close to selling that flat screen TV at Best Buy and they find out that the buyer really enjoys watching the cooking shows. He thinks they might be interested in his amazing chemical cooking skills and his olive oil ice cream that was killer. “….you know, that should of been me, that Fabio dude is a douche.”
“See that, that’s the rain” is a short but important sentence that Michel once said in a cooking class we were teaching together at the Cooking School of Aspen. He said this whilst cutting through a cucumber, the moisture beaded up on the fresh cut end and then a small drip on the cutting board. This is the part of cooking that is forgotten. Like looking at a cut of meat, recognizing that it was a living creature once or even thanking the animal in which it came from. It’s knowing that it takes months for a vegetables to grow, ripen and become something that can feed and nourish 6 people, not something that just comes from the store and what do you mean your out of Fiddle Ferns, they’re on my menu.
The reason I am such a fan of this guy, Michel, is that he has the clout and the pedigree to be a total dick, but he is not. He travels the world, been to the White House, helps immigrant farmers, educates and is diligently trying to fill the mouths of our youth and the homeless with food that is REAL, prepared with care and not modified. Did I mention prepared with care.
This is why I love F&W Classic, It is a shit show with little gems that outshine the buzzed up, liquor fueled main tent with a great lunch with a friend that is really making a difference. This industry is built by hard work and dedication, not 1 hour food competitions of selfishness against vainglory.
So here is a link to one of Michel’s projects and I urge all of you to get involved wholesomewave.org