Greatest Chef of our Time?

(Written for the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Food Arts)

I’m writing a book, trying to decide a title and direction. You see, I spent five and a half years working for what I think are the two greatest chefs of our time: Guenter Seeger and Jean-Louis Palladin. Which one was better? You’ll have to read the book.

But this is about Jean-Louis. I just read Bryan Miller’s gentle tribute to Jean-Louis in Food Arts. One thing is true: every cook, chef and food lover in America owes much to what Jean-Louis brought to the table, so to speak. When I began working with him in 1982 he had been open a scant two years at the Watergate.

I got the job, not because I was a talented cook (I wasn’t) but because I speak French. I wanted to learn from a master. And I was willing to do whatever it took. As my friend Chef Jeffery Buben advised me, “Stay with him as long as you can stand it, because there’s not a better chef anywhere.” So it was that I spent five miserable years in his kitchen. I wouldn’t change a thing. Read the rest of this entry »