Ya’ll know I love to cook. It’s why I left my very cushy career as a corporate senior project manager behind to become a chef. I always read cookbooks like novels, spend time shopping for food in the local stores and markets when traveling, and I think nothing of spending an entire day in the kitchen working on different projects—which I did yesterday as a matter of fact. Preparing food is fascinating to me; whether it’s making homemade stock, preserving lemons, fermenting vegetables, or grilling a steak—I love it all!
While I did attend culinary school, I am self-taught in many cuisines and techniques. I will read, watch videos, and practice until I’ve mastered whatever it is I am trying to make. So, this post is a lament to the loss of the real cooking shows. I learned how to laugh at myself when I watched Julia Child. My favorite episode is when she dropped a leg of lamb on the floor while preparing it, picked it up, brushed it off and just kept going. I loved watching Emeril get people excited about pork fat, Jeff Smith teaching us about frugality, and Ming Tsai teaching me about exotic ingredients and how to meld them with common ones to make a fantastic and memorable dish. What is presented today as cooking shows are vapid and insulting. I don’t learn things from a chef who wears an anchor around her waist trying to compete with another chef who is preparing food in an Easy Bake oven. I don’t learn from chefs who criticize dishes that are made with gummy bears and seaweed. I don’t learn from chefs who scream at their employees until the veins pop out in their neck and spittle flies into the camera lens. These are not educational or intelligent representations of what chefs have to offer to the general public. They are better than that and they should know better, but money talks loudly and wearing an anchor for fame and glory is not so bad, or is it?
I teach recreational cooking classes as part of my business and I take the task very seriously. I have been given an opportunity to pass along the knowledge I have gained to those who have hired me. I love it when I run into a client somewhere and they tell me that they made the recipe I had provided and the dish came out delicious, or that they were inspired to buy a pasta machine and now make their own fresh pasta. It makes me feel good and that I have done my job well. That’s what Julia, Emeril, Jeff, Ming and a host of others have done for me. It saddens me to see the cheapening and dumbing down of cooking programs today. When there is actually a cooking program on one of the channels, it’s lacking in energy and enthusiasm, or there is more cleavage and makeup than real cooking. I can only hope that someday, those real educational shows will come back and enable us to learn again how to laugh at ourselves and pick up the leg of lamb off the floor, rub it with more butter and carry on.