Dying for a Good Meal

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As much as people like me and others (most famously Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential) espouse that kitchens are full of criminals and pirates I am often struck by the dedication that cooks have to our craft. A cook will burn, cut and scrape herself to make sure that people enjoy there dinners.

That much dedication can be overwhelming to some personalities. Some chefs have even been known to sacrifice not only their bodies but also their very lives to the pursuit of the craft of cooking.

Francois Vatel, a famous 17th century chef, was cooking for King Louis the XIV. The story goes that Vatel was expecting a shipment of fish that was late. The longer the delay, the more stressed out he became. Finally when he could not bear the pressure any more, he impaled himself on a sword and took his own life. The fish arrived 15 minutes later. Vatel will go down in history as the guy who should have waited a little longer.

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In 2003, another French chef committed suicide over something much less tangible. Chef Bernard Loiseau shot and killed himself because he thought that he was going to be docked a star in the Michelin Guide. The Guide is the authoritative dining resource in France; the ratings can make or break a chef and restaurant. Loiseau, too, shoud have waited. When the guide was published, he had retained his three out of three stars, the highest rating. The movie Ratatouille is loosely based on Loiseau’s life. In the movie, the fat chef dies shortly after his restaurant is downgraded—he dies from a broken heart.

I do admire those chefs for their passion, but those guys were idiots. One thing that both of them can teach us, however, is that chefs need to be a little bit more patient.

Randy King is the Executive Chef at Sysco Food Services of Idaho. He has served as the Executive Chef at several locations in Boise including Richard’s in Hyde Park, Crane Creek Country Club and the Doubletree Riverside Hotel. Randy is a member of the American Culinary Federation and has been awarded the elite status of Certified Executive Chef. He can typically be found behind a stove making a mess ... and something delicious to eat.

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