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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Chef No 1 – Part One



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.


What are ya thinkin’?

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34 Responses to “French Chef No 1 – Part One”

  1. annie betchin says:

    always enjoy reading your posts before bedtime…really helps me get some good dreams! keep it up! bonne nuit!

  2. danny walker says:

    seems like you had a long vacation!…..but your quality remains the same. good to have you back!

  3. vanessa converse says:

    as the daughter of a (non French) chef i think the realistic view you presented here will be a real eye opener for most people. now they will realize how exceptionally long and difficult this profession can be.

  4. stanislaus richter says:

    simply one of your best posts!

  5. garney beckham says:

    great to have you back!…..with, naturally, another great post!

  6. riota affstar says:

    i went to one of the cooking classes given by a chef in france;..not a famous one…but it sure does give you an idea of just how hard they work!

  7. carmen villestanta says:

    I think it’s good that you’ve shown just how much work, not to mention sacrifice and dedication is involved in becoming a great chef. Well Done.

  8. toler cranston says:

    i really get a sense of “been there -done that” from this post, because i’ve dined in the restaurant of one of those “great chefs.” and tho ‘ i didn’t see his office….everything else was just as you described it!

  9. andrew spindoza says:

    the comment of your aynonomous french chef : “eats not part of ze dream” is a super reminder that the “chef business” is no different from any other. yes, you must have a good product, but if you don’t promote it – who knows?

  10. emilo parchesse says:

    it very interesting this writing….i see all that you write and think very well of it. (sorry for my bad english!)

  11. melanie spinder says:

    There are many jobs in the world we think are glamorous when we don’t know much about them. After this post, i’ll bet anyone considering being a professional chef is having second thoughts!

  12. trevor barnstable says:

    It’s not often the internet is blessed with reportage of this calibre. I’v just recently discovered you. Now, all my friends have too. Spot on!

  13. dan whitelaw says:

    After our first trip to france last year…we can really appreciate even more this post….It certainly is a place where, as the saying goes , the “live to eat…not “eat to live!”

  14. jeremy winthrop-benn says:

    following on from andrew’s comment re: promotion….i think this quote from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” says it all (and best!) “you must stir it and strump it, and blow your own trumpet, or trust me, you haven’t a chance.”

  15. alwynn chipman says:

    i’m thinkin’ there’s NO WAY i would ever want to be a professional chef!

  16. sylvia carstairs says:

    This post inspired me to get out my old Julia Child books and go through some of those receipes i used to do when I was in College. Thanks for getting me back in gear!

  17. ralph williams says:

    never ceases to amaze me how you can write bout subjects that are normally cliche and make them just come alive! i’ve been reading you for the get-go.

  18. paul zetner says:

    Alwynn – I hear ya!….better to be a professional EATER…yeah?

  19. jean miller says:

    hope you had a great holiday!…..thanks for this..excellent!!!

  20. cassia winters says:

    This was super! Can’t wait for part two!

  21. francoise dubois says:

    it is very good to read you again…especially with a subject of much interest to people. i wait for your second part.

  22. brad morton says:

    For me..this is the kind of post you do best.(Not that i don’t like the others!)

  23. benwood forth says:

    After several visits to gastromonic French restaurants, I think i know which “great chef” you’re described as the “great businessman…..but…in reality it could describe several…n’est ce pas?

  24. sabine petoff says:

    I wanted to be a “great chef” until i found out exactly what you’ve pointed out – that it’s REALLY hard, hot, exhausting work! yes, I still cook. But only at home! (lol!)

  25. freda benson says:

    next time i eat in a french restaurant, i’ll be appreciating it even more, thanks to this post. Wow – too much work for me!

  26. courtney michaels says:

    I’m thinkin’ the French, and the world in general spend too much time thinkin about their stomachs!

  27. evie carson says:

    i’ve been following you from the beginning…..and after all those great posts i’m wondering if you’ve got a book coming out?

  28. anders strun says:

    Hey Ralph- “cliche” isn’t that a French word?

  29. laverne levesque says:

    anders – so is “mardi gras”

  30. dimitri langston says:

    i’m thinkin’ it’s one thing to have great adventures….but quite another to have a the great talent for making your readers feel like they’ve lived them.

  31. converse mclean says:

    I applaud your sense of balanced reporting. It’s a fine line between puncturing the “french dream bubble”, and exposing some reality in the suds. A line you tread expertly. As always.

  32. You’ve(as usual) injected a much needed dose of reality into the non-French perception of the “GFC.” Love your objectivity. And the humour that goes with it!

  33. cynthia stanford says:

    great start!..now waiting to hear more on the great FEMALE chefs!

  34. betty tanners says:

    i’m in the same corner…..more on the girls in the kitchen!

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