Early Cooking Influences

People ask me about my background in foodservice, where I first learned how to cook. I wasn’t much different than many other cooks all over the world. I learned from the people in my life whose cooking I watched. Back then, my resources were limited. Of course when my mother was in the kitchen I would watch and learn from her, as well as my grandmothers when opportunities arose.

Then there were the others. A litany of people whose names flicker in and out of memory, but whose fascination with cooking, especially with teaching cooking, would stay with me until this very day. From time to time I reacquaint myself with them to remind myself of what I’ve learned, and to pay homage to their wisdom and tutelage.

One of those people is Julia Child, naturally.

I never met Julia Child in person. My introduction to her was the same as millions of other people: she came into my den. From time to time I would catch her cooking shows on TV; either I was home sick, or it was a weekend. This was well before the Internet (as we know it today), the Food Network wouldn’t be on the air for another decade, and VCRs were still rare. I would watch Jeff Smith, Graham Kerr, Paul Prudhomme, Earl Peyroux, then later Jacques Pepin (alone, with Julia Child, with his daughter) and Emeril Lagasse. Whoever was on at the time, really. I even saw some of the earliest episodes of what would be come the international sensation Iron Chef.

I remember this particular episode of The French Chef very distinctly. I remember watching it, completely fascinated by how she was handling her ingredients, and especially the names of the dishes. I memorized them. I noted they were kosher. I had no idea what sauce she was talking about that was left over in her freezer (hollandaise). I may have even attempted cooking them once or twice. Fillet of Sole Bonne Femme and Fillet of Sole Dugléré. They sounded so exotique! I was hooked back then and I didn’t even know it. Or maybe I did.

I offer you, courtesy of the grey area of legal that is YouTube, a glimpse into my childhood and culinary awakening.




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