Celebrity Chefs (make them go away!)

[I must admit that I fell for this April Fools joke. The article in Food Art was a joke, and I should be chuckled at just for not really paying attention to the names used in the article which clearly have food connotation/reference in them...but I must still add, that my attitude about it is the same, and I believe that these kind of people are still out there. So I would almost label this a 'prophetic' telling of whats to come next in this industry]

In the March 2007 Food Art issue titled, Idol Hour was enough information, assumptions, and predictions to make me sick to my stomach.

As you all know (if you don't you haven't seen an ounce of news in the last 10 years) these 'celebrity chefs' and food 'anything' have been all the (rant &) rave clawing and climbing its way to the top of the 'Media' world. And so has progressed the latest atrocity & horror of well-known(?) Culinary 'schools' contemplating adding a certificate course for 'Celebrity Chefdom' career style.

I use the term 'schools' lightly because one has to question what kind of establishment caters (no pun intended) to the selfish, egotistic, celebrity chef wannabe, ........ notion that they can skip all the years of hard work, dedication, and passion to be called a chef?!?!?! Even if it is for a few dollars to appear on TV as the hottest thing going!

We already have drama and acting schools, leave the acting up to those who do it well!!! You (the culinary schools at large) should not be adding a 'culinary' glorified acting 'celebrity chef' program to your school!!! I would hope doing so would take your 'credentials' credibility down a few notches!

I have worked 15 years (approx.) in the Food/Restaurant/Catering service-business, 5 years in the Beverage Industry, and 5 of those culinary years were spent traveling in Central America, Caribbean, Europe, and Africa with a volunteer mission organization (Mercy Ships) working as the Executive Chef on two of their ships.

I have this tiny blog that mostly just friends and family read, a degree in Computer Information Systems (not culinary) and have received most of my culinary training by apprenticeship, determination, self-education, traveling, experiencing different cultures, and work experience...just to name a few. I have ate 'meat pies' in Scotland and Termites in Honduras. And I am subjected to 'knuckleheads' that want to degrade and lessen the culinary society as a whole? And 'schools' are going to cater to this? Disgraceful.

Please, oh please CIA (Culinary Institute of America) tell me you are not going to participate in this foolish endeavor. Even if it succeeds it will lesson the quality, degrade, and cheapen (how else can I say it?) those of us who cook and live to the passion of all things culinary.

In this article it talks about a few 'celebrity chefs' that are well-known, and/or were the 'first' but I don't know (and have never heard of them before) who they are...I get a much better response out of googling my own name (nickname, blog spot) than I do any of theirs. The only thing that comes up is this article with their name in it! And I have already admitted to being known only within my own family and friends!

Which brings me to food network (I don't even have cable). Since I move around so much with my work my dad tapes the shows I want to watch from food network (thank you Dad!)...and I can tell you they are getting less and less to pick from. Oh, there are still new shows developing all the time but they are starting to come 'cookie cutter' style with any flamboyant charismatic character that remotely is connected with (a piece of) food. And there are some that were able/willing to escape, be bold, or at least realize they deserved better have moved on and brought their audience with them. And rightly so.

But there is still a special place in my heart for those who have stayed and persevered, and those are the ones that my dad still video tapes for me and sends them along so I can amuse myself and maybe learn something. Its kind of like the sitcom, learning, and comedy TV for us cooks/foodies.

I love the title Chef, and I believe I have earned that accomplishment but I almost cringe when someone addresses me with that title because 'our' whole society has elevated it to a dream of not becoming an actual Chef, but a 'celebrity chef'.

In LaRousse Gastronomique here is quoted the first sentence for the definition of Chef: CHEF A person who prepares food as an occupation in a restaurant, private house, or hotel.

Now this book is touted by many a chef, cook, foodies...alike to be one of THE Bibles of epicurean proportions...but society has manipulated the Chef title to be a title of arrogance and pedigree.

What school did you got to? What? No culinary degree...uh, no...the closest culinary school (I think) to me was over 4 hours away (and of NO particular note, actually I think it is now defunct) when I started my (legal) career of cooking at age 16 at the A&W Restaurant (yes, Root beer! We still made our own syrup then, It was not bought in a box). Besides, cooking an egg on an engine in basic auto mechanics class was the closest you were going to get to culinary class at high school/tech school choices.

But that's OK, just call me Tyrone, tyronebcookin, or bcookin for short. I don't need a title, I got the passion, creativity, and determination to pursue my goals. Which are probably surprisingly different than you may imagine. (http://tyroneandstephanie.com/ read introduction page).

Ah yes, back to the article. Well much can be said but with a quote like this:

"If the Institute had had this program when I went to school there," Speed said, raising the glass divider in the limousine bound for a television studio for his appearance on the Charlie Rose Show, "I could have shaved five years off this process. Five years of cooking—what a waste."

A thirty year old chef that says five years of cooking was a waste; implying that if culinary school had a program to boost him to celebrity status he wouldn't have needed to cook all that time.

I need to check my blood pressure, be back in a second...

What more should I say to convinve you I have a valid point?

Special Thanks to:
Bob Del Grosso
Michael Ruhlman