Who is a Chef? Who is a Cook?

There’s a lot of confusion out there about just what constitutes a “chef” versus a “cook.” Oh yes, and it’s a question that many writers have tried to answer. Nothing new there. I’m a big believer in defining terms, realizing of course that terminology and words change meanings over the years. But, that said, and…

Science: The Missing Ingredient in the So-Called Art of Cooking

Every chef should be a scientist too. How so? Cooking changes the chemical and structure of food. Therefore, understanding these changes would help a lot when perched in front of the stove, whisk or wooden spoon in hand. Over the last several weeks, I’ve watched more episodes of the popular American TV program, “Chopped,” than I…

The South is Rising Again: The 2013 James Beard Nominees

In the culinary world, the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize or the Oscars comes down to the James Beard Awards. This year, the list of nominees includes a large number of Southern chefs, restaurants, and other food-related entities. What’s so fascinating about this list lies in the evidence of increasing diversity – it’s not all…

The Expert (French) Cook in Enlightenment France: A Review

If you scrutinize sixteenth-century Dutch artist Pieter Aertsen’s painting, “The Cook in Front of the Stove,” you will see a rather stereotypical image of servant cooks, one that persisted in popular memory in Europe until well into the nineteenth century. Sean Takats, assistant professor of history at George Mason University and codirector of Zotero, attempts…

Auguste Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire, Revised

New, revised version of Escoffier’s premier work, unabridged fourth edition from 1921. In English, glory be. Translated from the 1921 Fourth Edition, this revision includes all-new Forewords by Heston Blumenthal, chef-owner of the Michelin three-star-rated Fat Duck restaurant, and Chef Tim Ryan, President of The Culinary Institute of America, along with Escoffier’s original Forewords, a…

The [Culinary] Heroes of France

They’re not in the Panthéon in Paris, where France entombs her heroes, but from all the adulation they receive, you’d think they would be. France not only treats its chefs like celebrities or royalty, but the country  sometimes even views these men (usually they’re all men) like gods. Here’s a taunting image by photographer and…

Looking for a Woman Chef: The 2005 Palace Revolt

In 2005, sparks flew in the White House kitchen. And the conflagration came not from the Crêpes Suzettes. No indeed. White House chef, Walter Scheib, formerly chef of the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, found himself in the same pickle that other French-trained chefs working at the White House experienced over the years. Scheib, who…

Cooks’ Quirks, Complete with a List of Good Reads at the End

Quirky cooks—they’re everywhere, if you look. Read Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe detective series and you contend with chef Fritz Brenner, whose kitchen is like the Pentagon—impenetrable. Turn to Madeleine Kamman’s book, In Madeleine’s Kitchen, and you hear James Beard saying, in the preface (and in an understatement), that Madeleine “is a very outspoken person on…