If you approach cooking as a creative endeavor and with a lover’s passion, then you are a natural-born chef. They are the alchemists and artists of the kitchen and tend to view nature as a pantry full of ingredients. Auguste Escoffier, for instance, the father of modern French cuisine, invented over 10,000 recipes in his lifetime. Chefs are especially sensual and creative, guided not just by taste and smell but by visual presentation as well.
Today’s greats include Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, and Ferran Adria, whose El Bull restaurant in Spain caused a revolution of creative experimentation when it opened two decades ago and downtown New Yorker, Wiley Dufrense, whose mad scientist approach to cooking leaves diners intrigued and aghast. While these artists strive to push the envelope in the pairing of unusual tastes and textures, they also have to know how to access their logical Apollonian sides to keep things in order.
Julia Child, a great proponent of doing things by the book, spent years on her 700-page and absolutely thorough Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It remains a masterpiece of detail. “All the great chefs I know,” Jacques Pepin once said, “are technicians first.” They are artists too, of course, but instead of reaching our intellects, they strive to reach and enrapture our senses.
Bobby Flay, Grant Achatz, Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Suzanne Goin, Alice Waters
More than any other creative types, chefs have the ability to make everyone around them happy by cooking, and often do so spontaneously at gatherings. Their knowledge of food interests all kinds of people because while not everyone cares about art, everyone cares about eating.
Chefs are known to be obsessive workaholics who have to be controlling enough to keep things running smoothly in their kitchens. They also tend to stay up late and drink heavily to relax, which can be alienating for people who aren’t night owls.
Farmers markets, organic gardens, art, wine, and travel in pursuit of new culinary sensations
- My Life in France by Julia Child
- Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitches Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice tp a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
- Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Librairie Larousse
- Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” -James Beard