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 this 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.
Over 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 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. It seemed like a good idea and I’m glad I did it! But then fate intervened and we went to Italy for three 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 had sent us wonderful postcards while on their trips. We kept them for reference and 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.