There is a little magazine published in my neck of the city, that I really like.Â It is all about–food.Â I sent off an idea to this magazine that Kelie and I had, about us penning a column in an Ann Landers advice style, of How to Make eating a Home Cooked Dinner a Regular Reality.Â Kelie has worked as a writer for Fairchild Publishing so she is a no brainer for writing an article.Â The problem is Moi.
In my initial contact with the editor I included fun facts like, I am a cook, I write a blog, and I teach cooking.Â When she wrote me back she said, “you know, if I gave everyone a column who wanted to write a column for this magazine, there would be room for nothing else.”Â Fair enough and kudos to the mag for A.Â being popular B.Â checking credentials.
I sent her my credentials, and this was her reply:Â did I go to culinary school, am I a professional cook and do I write my blog as a hobby?
This set me back for a minute.Â If we had been in high school and face to face, I think it could have been a “situation.”Â Which is a reminder to me that A.Â I am in not in high school and B.Â I need to think about what she is asking.Â What I heard was:Â Liar.Â Â What she most likely meant was:Â Prove it to me.
I have no name and no connections, although I have cooked for some famous people.Â Does that make me a better cook?Â I don’t think so. Â In my mind, requirements for cooking are the same if you cook for Michael Jackson (I never cooked for him) or Joe Schmoe.Â In my experience, the fact that a person is famous, does not guarantee knowledge of food; and a cook cooks to the best of her ability whether cooking for Jackson or Schmoe.
Last night I lost sleep because when I wrote her back, along with the links that prove I am a professional, I used the names of the well known people who are my clients or have been my clients in connection with trying to prove my worth. In all my years of cooking, when someone wants to know if I can cook, I say, “yes.” I back it up with how long I have been cooking, what kind of cooking I have done; I might throw in that I had my own restaurant for a few years…but there was something about how after I gave her my information she implied I might be cooking as a “hobby” that threw me over the fence.Â And so I stooped to name dropping as if just because I work for people who the whole country knows and are at the top of their game, that makes me official.
I am so high school.
For the record:Â I have never gone to culinary school–I learned everything I know on the job.Â I started out washing chickens and cleaning dishes.Â Without deserving it whatsoever, I was awarded the job of “pastry chef” my second day at the sink, just because I happened to be the only one working in the kitchen at that moment who knew anything about making a cake and–I offered to make one for 300 people in a crunch.Â The cake was for a famous person, but I swear I would have made it using exactly the same techniques if it were for my mother.
I have never been employed to work at a restaurant (other than my own) as a cook.Â I have done a stage cooking at a well known restaurant, I have eaten at well known restaurants, but I grew up professionally in catering, where I was eventually referred to as head chef of a reputable company.Â I teach in the Tuscan hills of Italy, and the garden of France.Â I know how to chop, sear, and braise my way through just about anything.Â My claim to fame is a state senator (here I go nameless name dropping again) refusing to rush for his plane because he wanted to finish every last bite.Â My other claim to fame:Â my seven year old loves to eat wholesome food. I have written nearly everyday for the last four years about food, including a cookbook that I published and love as much as I would if I had been paid by someone else to publish it.Â At the end of the day, I walk a path just off the main road.
What makes a cook?Â Experience and knowledge. And even if I didn’t get paid by all kinds of people to cook–you can be as brilliant at home as you can be on the job.Â And I do both.Â So there.
(Talk to the hand, and if the hand is not available take it to the elbow.)
Now that I have that off my chest:Â a repurposed recipe THAT I MADE UP MYSELF!