Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Art of Cuisine

A bit of encouragement for y’all… before leaving my country, family, friends and life as I knew it behind and moving to Paris, I had never cooked anything in my life. Now granted, I had been known to help my mother bake Christmas cookies from a ripe young age (and by “help,” I mean, “watch and sample”… someone had to upkeep the quality control… right? A responsibility I very seriously maintained!) But as an athlete, and with a mother who adore cooking, the need to actually prepare food for myself did not exist. In grade school and middle school, mom would generally pick me up from school and I would eat in the car… driving from activity to activity (dancing/swimming/gymnastics/piano/flute/baton, etc.) Homework would generally be accomplished via the beacon of light shining from the interior car lights… shaky handwriting and all. I was driven to succeed… both in the classroom, as well as athletic field. No only succeed, but excel. I had the hunger… just not for the culinary arts! Having two loving parents who were food enthusiasts, I developed a refined palate at a young age… compliments of the organic, high-vegetarian diet that my mother would serve (select, choice cuts of meat when meat was served), as well as fine-dining restaurant meals on the weekends. While I appreciated gourmet food, I had absolutely no idea the amount of work that was accomplished behind the scenes… in the un-glamorous, humid, tiny kitchens where food-art was created.

Until my first restaurant experience in the three Michelin-starred restaurant “Le Meurice” at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris, France. Followed by a stint at the same caliber Micheline rating, Hotel de Crillon (Les Ambassadeurs).

Talk about baptism by fire.

Whilst Le Cordon Bleu prepared me for “kitchen life,” I was not yet skilled in the art of cuisine… the creative, impressive plating that “wows” most individuals into returning to said establishments. I spent several days in Cannes during my stint in Paris… absorbing the culture, appreciating the refinements and learning as much as possible from the French. The Bourgeoise still maintain a certain “je ne sais que” which simply cannot be taught. Either you have it or you do not… but the effortless, natural grace is noticed by all (although not all will acknowledge such beauty!) While in Cannes, I remember speaking with an older woman who was the proud owner of a sparkling French boutique… fragile trinkets sparkled in the sunlight, purses made of fine leathers were strategically placed in the store and the mannequins were dressed to the nines. We quickly bonded over the fashion, then she asked me about culinary school, where I was working, etc. When I mentioned Hotel de Crillon, her eyebrows raised, eyes enlarged and an all-knowing smile crept over her freshly-glossed pink lips. I will never forget her words, resounding like sweet notes in her native French tongue, “oh ma cherie… you are not just learning how to cook… you are learning the art of cooking.”

And it stuck.

One of my favorite aspects of cooking is the final presentation… especially TEACHING how to plate. Colors, numbers, white plates, mirrors, stones-surfaces, fire, edible flowers, glitter… all elements that take your final presentation to the next level.

More to come in the cookbook that I’m writing… due out in 2013. I’m just beyond grateful to share my love and passion in life.

If I can do it… you can too.

Love y’all! ♥

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