My passion for food takes me on on some incredible journeys where I meet very talented, creative, passionate people pushing forward the boundaries of cuisine and sometimes creating foodie revolts and movements that permeate onto plates on a global level. Food is culture, art and imagination on a plate and some meals become benchmarks by which I tend to judge and rate future dining experiences. Sometimes in a given year for me this boundary gets pushed outward multiple times.
Over the years I have come to know well many iconic chefs and what I classify as culinary artists who are not only creative but in some ways are food philosophers and have the ability to change perceptions and our approach to cooking, presenting and ingesting foods.
The creation of food has in the present world become closely intertwined with technology and science which has sometimes been falsely interpreted as the ability to utilize it for gimmicks to stay ahead of competition. This is obvious at many food events with slick videos and cooking demonstrations that require a science degree to comprehend and it seems improbable that they will become part of mainstream hospitality kitchens but a few years down the road THEY DO!
I travel to many food conferences in the world such as Mesamerica in Mexico City, MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mistura in Lima, Peru, Gastronomika in San Sebastian, Spain, or Chef Sache in Cologne, Germany, an interesting gathering of modernist chefs. During these travels I have had very interesting and candid conversations with many chef friends, journalists, producers, researchers, food scientists and as well as some rare dining experiences in the form of collaborations between chefs. I would never have imagined that chance encounters with chefs at MAD or Mesamerica would lead to friendships that brought chefs to join my team when I had the opportunity to present my cuisine at the iconic James Beard house in New York City.
Maintaining the Michelin stars or the rank on the 50 Best Restaurants list, selling cookbooks,being present at every food conference to stay in the spotlight has taken many extremely talented chefs out of their kitchens for extended periods of time and created a disconnect from their diners and followers. I have had discussions about these issues and many sometimes controversial topics with chefs and have been writing about these in various publications. My desire is to present the relatable, personal and very real side of these individuals that is sometimes very different than the persona created by their publicists.
I intend to share my stories and experiences with others like me who will travel to another part of the world for a special meal or when I snag. I have lost count of how many Michelin star restaurants I have visited, some memorable meals i partook there and some not. Incredible stories about chef Paul Bocuse as related to me by chef Joel Robuchon, chef Juan Mari’s candid memories of his family home and his Arzak restaurant, visiting with chef Alain Passard at his art gallery, Pierre Gagnaire’s reminences of the family from Jodhpur India that supplied his spices 25 years ago, chef Alex Atala’s passion for the Amazon, personal travels. The trials and tribulations of chefs like Rene Redzepi, Albert Adria’s candid comments on the restaurant business, Virgilio Martinez of Central and Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi who took their concepts overseas, controversies between well-known chefs and their opposing views on issues. The crazy events like Gelinaz with 20+ top chefs in the world cooking together and partying after imbibing a few too many are the stories I will be sharing on this forum.
My gastro travels also take me into culinary outposts, local markets and visits with people like Gustavo Leon of the Monastario hotel in Cusco, Peru who spent seven years at the Sanctuary Lodge right outside the entrance to Machu Pichu a location mostly on the bucket list for most people. The chefs at the Danish Copenhagen House of Food, the cheese makers in the Basque country of Spain, the baker from Venezuela I met at Mistura, Sandra Plevisani the desert queen from Peru, the cooks in Fez, Morocco who shared old recipes with me, young rising stars who are the future of gastronomy, the cooks at a taco stand in Mexico City are representative of the vast spectrum of food related personalities that I get to know and whose stories I look forward to sharing with my readers.
I began writing these stories just three years ago when faced with a serious health crisis I was a despondent and uncertain of the future. A friend and well known chef suggested that I should write about all my friends in the business since they trusted me as I was one of them and an editor encouraged me not to stop writing after publishing my first conversation. Facing my mortality helped edit out the inconsequential, uninteresting and unnecessary and putting my life on a fast track. I now create, cook, teach, lecture, travel and write about chefs and cooks and also get to cook with my friends overseas or in my own kitchens in California. Recently Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur in France joined me for a unforgettable four hands dinner, these are the experiences and memories that enrich my journey these days.