In Letters to a Young Chef
, Daniel Boulud, cookbook author, chef, and owner of Daniel, Café Boulud, and DB Bistro Moderne in New York City, briefly covers what he believes are the most important building blocks to becoming a great chef. Boulud grew up on his family's farm in a tiny town near Lyons, France. Like most of today's great European chefs, he took his first kitchen job at the tender age of 14. But his lengthy, successful career in New York City has made him very aware that the path he took to get where he is is very different from the one young American chefs take today. His advice is wise, and could apply to other careers as well: find a mentor, use your connections, work hard, learn how something is done by a successful chef before you try out your own creativity, travel, explore, be loyal to your employer, develop your sense of taste, and learn all aspects of the restaurant business before attempting to go out on your own. Boulud's excellent advice comes from years of experience, and some of the most enjoyable parts of this little book are his anecdotes about the time he spent learning and paying his dues in legendary kitchens, and about the fascinating culinary icons he mixes with today. A quick read by a most fascinating culinary celebrity, you'll wish he shared even more, and that next time he puts pen to paper, it will be for a full-length memoir. --Leora Y. Bloom
From Publishers Weekly
You can say one thing for Boulud, owner of top-flight New York restaurants Daniel, Caf Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne: he's not one for coddling. In this rather skimpy collection of advice to recent culinary school grads, he shoots straight from the hip. Working as a chef in someone else's restaurant wouldn't be his choice, he explains, or the choice of anyone with true passion, he implies. "Still, it is a life." Instead, these brief chapters on topics like finding a mentor and controlling one's ego and ambition ("I have a healthy dose of both," he confesses) are aimed at a very specific audience: those who want to open their own restaurants, and they'd better be young (over 30 is over-the-hill) and hungry-and not just for a perfect coq au vin. The book is long on generalities, but rather short on specifics. One exception is the chapter on wine and dessert, which explains that 10% to 15% of an average check is generated by the latter, and one-third by the former. Boulud can also be maddeningly contradictory, as when he lauds all things seasonal, then broadens the definition to include chanterelles from Oregon, because they reach New York in two days. A final chapter listing the 10 commandments of a chef (including keep knives sharp and learn the world of food) restates much of the previous information in pithier form. This book is the Monsieur Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll version of culinary training presented in Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice. Recipes not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.