Jim Hearn on the professional kitchen

‘Dreams drive hospitality. While some people like to think of it as a component of the service industry whose responsibility it is to address the needs of the body, for those on the inside it is a weird and sometimes wonderful dreamscape of ungodly hours, ridiculous pressures, unkind owners, absurd customers, torture, humiliation and occasional…

Chelminski’s ‘The Perfectionist’

If you’re a fan of biography, especially from the kitchen, then Rudolph Chelminski’s The Perfectionist is a delectable read.  It’s a captivating and honest account of the rise and tragic fall of Bernard Loiseau, the irrepressible, larger than life and entirely likeable star of modern French gastronomy–a man who lived in obsessive pursuit of excellence, even immortality, amidst…

Gay Bilson’s ‘Plenty’

In Plenty: Digression on Food, the legendary Australian restaurateur Gay Bilson provides a compilation of intelligent observations about food and culture in Australia. She does so through the lens of her own experience in three notable Sydney restaurants. It is a pleasure to read. For me, Bilson provides one of the more eloquent testimonies to a…

Stephanie Alexander and obsession

‘He’s obsessed!’ I heard a friend of mine described that way recently, behind his back. It’s a powerful tag. Most commonly it infers a dysfunction, a failing to overcome in favour of personal wholeness. Proponents of that holy grail — work-life balance — paint obsession a wrong to be righted. But I often wonder, does obsession deserve a little more…

Cooking and calling

Commonly, the experience of ‘calling’ in the Christian faith is approached as a mysterious thing and highly prized; to have heard ‘the call’ is to have entered the ranks of the spiritual elite. Tragically, such a mystical approach leaves the majority of Christians in the stands; there they sit—excluded and disempowered—destined to be spectators while…

From the kitchen to the pulpit

Chefs are not always great writers. There are some wonderful exceptions, but most gifted chefs are doing what they do best without literary diversion. While recipe books abound, to have a chef write more explicitly of what draws him to his profession–and what keeps him there–is rare. It is this that makes Daniel Boulud’s Letters to…

Ruhlman’s ‘The Soul of a Chef’

Seriously, how could I not? With the title The Soul of a Chef, I didn’t much care what was in it. And the thought that this might truly be a serious exploration of spirituality in the professional world of the kitchen … the possibility was enough. This is not Ruhlman’s first literary stirring of the pot. …