A tale of two chefs………

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Many years ago, when I was at catering college, there were two boys in my class who became great mates, but who had very little in common.   John was a straight A student; very bright, good exam results, high-achieving, sporty, you name it, John was good at it, and it was his ambition to be a hotel manager. Andy, on the other hand, was a bit of a lost soul. He had rebelled at school and flunked most of his exams, he had missed a lot of schooling as he thought his time would be better spent down at the stream, fishing and helping his widowed mother with her enormous brood of children.. He had finally ended up at college as his mum had told him that he might at least learn something useful; and he would always get a job if he could cook.   John and Andy struck up an unlikely friendship, John took Andy under his wing rather, he felt that with his encouragement, Andy might be able to turn his life round and be successful, like he, John, was destined to be.   All went according to plan until they started having practical lessons in the practice kitchens. John would find out what they were cooking the next day; read up all the recipes and methods and learn them until he knew them word for word –he was not going to be caught out! He despaired of Andy who would come in, ask him what was on the menu, and for a brief description of what to do, and they would begin to cook. John weighed out all his ingredients, as per the recipe, followed the instructions to the letter, and usually turned out a very agreeable dish. He couldn’t understand why the chef de cuisine always praised Andy for his dishes far more than he ever praised John. So he started to watch what his friend was doing………After getting the brief run down from John, Andy would go and choose his ingredients, running his hands over the fruit and veg; smelling them, squeezing them and  selecting the very best he could find. He would start preparing his food, never seeming to do anything exactly as John did, more cooking instinctively, savouring the smells, tasting each dish at each stage, re-seasoning, adding a little more spice, salt, garlic as he worked.   John did not get why this boy who hadn’t been very good at anything suddenly seemed to have overtaken him in the kitchen, it didn’t appear to be fair at all when he was so prepared……..so he asked Andy what he felt was the difference between their techniques. Andy replied, “I have spent my life helping my Mum cook for our family, and when I see the joy on the faces of the little ones when she dishes up her famous shepherd’s pie, it makes me so happy, and I can see how Mum loves creating her warming, nourishing food for the family; she told me that it is the one great thing she can do for all of us – feed us well so that we are healthy and well. I get that same feeling when I start cooking – I become completely at one with the food, I know that if I get involved throughout the whole creational process, something wonderful is going to happen, and that food is going to be great. I can’t really explain it; it just happens for me, I absolutely love it.”   John realised this was one competition he was not going to win with Andy, he would never make such vibrant, vital food as Andy was capable of.  He went on to own a chain of successful hotels, never once working in one of his kitchens; and Andy, well, Andy is married to my best friend, and is still creating the most delicious, nutritious divine food you could ever imagine, for all of his lucky friends and family.

Author: Celia

The Rambler, AKA Celia Dulieu
Celia has been sharing food, wine, recipes and friendship with Simon and Sue Gale for more than 15 years.
In a former life she was a mass caterer, working for large companies such as Selfridges, London; but after moving to the countryside with husband, 2 kids and dog, she resurrected her love of food, - particularly by entertaining her large extended family to lunches ,sharing informal get togethers with friends, and developing her small but productive kitchen garden. She is passionate about all things to do with food and wine; from where it is produced to how it arrived on her doorstep.
Celia’s love of meeting people, visiting places and trying different things has culminated in being invited to get involve with writing up the experiences of the Heart Kitchen and sharing her love of food with you through her ramblings.