Monday, February 9, 2009

Another Crappy TV “Chef”

The English. At their best they build world dominant empires, subjugate native peoples and are universally despised oppressors. They are explorers, superspys, swordsmen and sailors. They are gentlemen who will best you at fisticuffs and be so gentile about it that you will thank them for the privilege.

At their worst they are cooks. They are the worst cooks in the world. They tell lies about Irish cooks just to take the attention off of how bad the English cooks really are. The very worst of the cooks end up calling themselves "chef". Gordon Ramsey is a creation of the BBC – he represents the worst that the UK has to offer with none of the breeding nor the refinement of the truly great chefs, and the very worst of what the cooking industry has to offer as well. This is obviously a winning combination, so now they are cramming another lousy English cook down our throats, Marco Pierre White. White bills itself as a "great" or even "the world's greatest" chef.

Startlingly, the truly great chefs would have blushed to have that moniker expressed to their faces. Escoffier was self-effacing to a fault, as was René Verdon. Jacques Pepin is the same. They all struggled to get to their lofty positions. Yes, they had a great deal of talent, far more than either White or Ramsey have, but they maintained a sense of great humility throughout their careers.

I have worked as a chef and a sous-chef in my time, and I will grant you that there are times when tempers flare in the kitchen. It is a high pressure environment demanding high levels of production and quality at the same time, and it is natural that voices will be raised periodically. To cultivate a reputation as a person with a short temper, however, is not indicative of being a good chef, much less a great chef. It is indicative of being a juvenile fake, as these two embarrassing exponents of the once great Empire both are. I am sure that either of them can flip a burger with the best of them, but that is all. It is another embarrassing condemnation of the American television audience that anybody knows these creatures' names – they should be as anonymous as those other abominations of the kitchen, Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee.

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