Friday, August 15, 2008

She's not a chef....

Disclaimer: I've been advised not to write this post. The cool thing about advice is that you can either take it or leave it. I'm choosing to leave it today.

Forbes Magazine has recently released a list of the top earning celebrity chefs. Allegedly topping this list was Rachel Ray. I say allegedly because she's NOT A CHEF. Call her anything you want.....successful? I can't question that one. She's very successful and earns a ton of money. Lifestyle coach? Sure. She can teach you how to whip up some pre-packaged food into a meal with interesting catch phrases like EVOO, and YUM-O. Media Maven? You got it. I have no argument with any of those and I think she has worked very hard to achieve a level of success that not many folks can reach. So on that end; congrats. However, to totally rip off Lloyd Bentsen from the 1988 Vice-Presidential Debates 'Ms. Ray, I worked with chefs: I knew chefs; chefs are friends of mine. Ms. Ray, you're no chef.'

I bring this up partly because it chaps my ass that she's being described as a chef. However, the issue is a much larger one. It seems everyone wants to be described as a chef these days. Regardless of experience or talent, kids who haven't even graduated from culinary school or touched the hot line for that matter are asking for jobs 'with managerial responsibility' or changing recipes because their way is 'better'. I told you that so I could tell you this: Being a chef is about the grind. It's about the day to day. Putting your head down and doing it Can you peel a carrot better today than you did yesterday? Does the smell of browning bones still excite you? Do you live for the rush of dinner service? Did you learn one new thing today? Did you do one thing better today than you did yesterday?

I've been very fortunate to get where I've gotten as quickly as I have. Yes, I've worked hard for it and yes, every day I realize how much I have to learn. Someone recently asked me if I still like cooking....I love professional cooking. Love it. Walking in to a spotless kitchen first thing in the morning, putting on the coat and apron, knowing the possibilities of the day and working to fulfill them. Yes, I'm a chef. The guys that work with me are chefs, too. Let's not confuse the issue and dilute what we do by referring to every TV personality who shakes a pan and has a sweet set of catch phrases as a chef. They're not.

10 comments:

Rachel said...

Hey Andy!
My sentiments exactly! This was the very 1st thing I said when I saw the post about her....
I hope you are well!
-Rachel Ossakow

John Jezl said...

I'm glad you said it. You're absolutely right. No question about her success or popularity. I don't even doubt that she works her tail off and earned her success. But you're right... she's not a chef.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Well said.

Anonymous said...

and don't you just love those pots and pans of hers with the orange handles, they are way cool!?

Anonymous said...

When you start coming up with "words" like yummo and evoo, I'll stop reading your blog!

Anonymous said...

Amen

Matt said...

Not that anyone as wealthy as Rachel Ray needs someone to leap to her defense and I find her show boring and uninspired but... in her defense, Ray is always very careful to say that she is NOT a chef, merely a home cook. And not that I think the two are remotely similar, but Julia Childs also made it very clear that she was not a chef either. She would always joke that her show the French Chef featured someone who was neither French, nor a chef.

Anonymous said...

Now here's the really sad part. She says herself that she's not a chef. But the big, powerful Fortune Magazine takes it upon themselves to name her one. Is there any real journalism happening out there?

Chef Andrew Little said...

Thanks for the comments, Matt. I think if you read my comments again, you'll notice that my beef isn't with 'Ms. Ray', it's directed more importantly at how we arrive at titles. Being on FoodTV does not a chef make. She may mention over and over that she's not a chef and I certainly have no argument with that. The real argument is with Forbes and the media at large making chefs out of every talking bobble head waving a knife on TV. It's as if I would be listed as a 'writer'. I'm not.

Also, just to keep this as accurate as possible....her name is Julia Child....no (s)

oh so hungry said...

And in the realm of being accurate. I wrote Forture in my comment, but it is Forbes as the rockin' chef Andy, friend of Carol wrote.