Who’s the greatest French chef ? Depends on your terms of reference, dunnit? Your definition of “great.” The extent of your experience with GFC’s. And, of course, ultimately, it’s all subjective. Who’s the greatest French chef –for you? The personalities of the GFC’s I’ve met, come in more flavours than Summer ice cream. They are, to a Man, (rarely a Woman) dynamic, “can do”, individuals. Basically, “Type A” personalities on speed.
Most of the GFC’s to whom the adjective “great” can be applied, base their cuisine on the cooking of their Grandmothers.(“Cuisine Grandmere”)
While not all future culinary superstars at age seven were tugging at Granny’s aprons strings demanding :“Hey, Gran……..why did you whisk the cream in at the last minute?” – Most were raised in an atmosphere of respect for the products of the land. And it’s associated history and traditions. They understood, from childhood, that the preparation of food, was an act of love. A celebration of the gift’s of the land. A serious, but joyous responsibility that required equal amounts of attention and imagination.
Before I met him, one of the GFC’s was described to Me thusly : “He used to be a very great chef. Now He is a very great businessman.” Too true! Not only the too upholstered restaurant, festooned with photos of the GFC bear–hugging movie stars, politicians and corporate criminals – but – a cote – a turn of the century bistro. For those jonesin’ for some faux Belle Epoque ambience.
A few doors down, the GFC boutique. Exclusive retailer of autographed aprons, chef’s hats, knives, sheets, pillow cases, tee-shirts, stemware, mugs, and all else GFC.
Outside the village, a massive heli-pad equipped Chateau assures the GFC will not have to turn down any convention business.
The extent to which Mr. GFC grasped the gospel of marketing, is evidenced by his firm “no” to my request to film in in his video-monitor strewn office. He smiled smugly.“Eats not part of ze dream.”
This GFC did learn his sauce-making at Granny’s knee. And, He’s the fifth generation to man the stove. Inevitably, his son will be number six. For those chef wannabes who were not dropped by the stork into the silver saucepan of culinary royalty, There’s another road to GFC-dom.
It’s the same road you follow to become a carpenter, a brick layer, or a sorcier. You apprentice! You willingly, eagerly submit to excessive hours of verbal/physical torture, usually in plus tropical heat, for minimum wage. Eyes fixed firmly on the prize. For as long as it takes. Perhaps this is the reason there are so few Women in the GFC club? As the logical inheritors of Granny’s gifts, should We not expect more female GFC’s?
There is an association of Female chefs in France. Separate and distinct from the all gender “Cuisiniers du France.” Having chowed down at more than a few restaurants with a woman behind the stove, I’ve found them, their cuisine, ambience and service, consistently exceptional.
Part Two – Next Time.
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?