Michael Ruhlman & "celebrity" chefs

There's a great interview with Michael Ruhlman over at Carol's French Laundry at Home. In case you don't know who I'm talking about, Ruhlman is a chef/writer who has written extensively about cooking and has had the opportunity to work and write with some of the best chefs in the world. One of his greatest achievements has been writing Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook, a book that changed the way I think about cooking. I used to be a simple man, happy with me beans on toast — now I can't serve a soup without thinking, "I could probably strain this one more time". They were of course Keller's techniques and recipes that I was reading, but Ruhlman was able to communicate Keller's passion for perfection so clearly that it became my passion. No doubt because it became his passion, too. I can't wait to read Soul of a Chef next.

Meanwhile, I got a pamphlet advertising 'Celebrity Chefs 2008'. A bunch of restaurants around Adelaide are each offering small fixed-price tasting menus throughout July and August. The idea is to visit all of them, get your pamphlet stamped, and be rewarded with a $100 gift voucher to spend at any of the participating restaurants. In other words, a yuppie version of the Subway Sub Club. The idea's fine and there are some good bargains to be had, but wasn't this called the 'Festival of Food' the previous two years? And weren't there pictures of food selling the event rather than the smiling mugs of the restaurants' head chefs? Speaking of that, since when were any of these people celebrities? It's embarrassing, really.

Who's putting this crap into their heads? Dear Adelaide "celebrity" chefs: Wake up. If you want to be famous, build a reputation based on years of hard work and excellent food. Even then people may only know your restaurant, not your name. That's okay. It's not about you.

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