You don't me. I've never met you but we wear the same uniform in the kitchen. We have the same attitude. All four of our hands are scarred. You have oil burns and I have caramel scars. Neither one of us has seen real sunshine in 10 years. Both our paychecks suck., although there's a good chance that mine sucks worse than yours.
You probably don't like eating dessert, but I do. You think creme brulee and molten chocolate cake are fantastic, and maybe even tiramisu. I think blanching tripe is icky and I cringe at the thought of butchering live lobsters. You might have trouble following a recipe involving grams. I get off on order and cleanliness and you think I'm crazy.
Sometimes we are similar, but more of the time we are quite different.
You would like me to come and accent your salty food with a little something sweet.
The problem is that I don't sleep in your kitchen if I'm consulting. Your house has a guest room and it's where I wash up, but I don't stay overnight. This means that, because you pay the mortgage and I just bring the odd green bean casserole and bundt cake, it is your job to taste everything I make all the time, because I am not there to serve it. This is where it's difficult.
It is at this juncture that I release my children into your hands. We have to trust each other, we have to respect each other, and it would help if we each knew something about each others methods-- not super specifically like your secrets and palate, but if you don't know how to reach nappe and I don't know how to saute scallops to tender perfection, we are in a relationship headed towards disaster.
those red flags are not waving you in.
How do we create and sustain this tenuous relationship? How do I stand in front of the school and watch my children run to school where I am not with them, garnishing and paying close attention to their crumb and texture? How do you communicate with me when it appears as though we speak another language.
Anthony Bourdain says in Kitchen Confidential pastry chefs are the neurologists of the kitchen.
How do we navigate this rocky terrain for which there are no maps? Each consulting gig is it's own thing, no two alike. I'm like a traveling circus performer. Bend this way or that, apply make up for smile or frown, juggle eggs or play with fruit, create fancifulness or down home heart warming goodnesses.
Be who I can't be. Be who I don't want to be. Be making things I don't want to eat.
It's all right, I can be your stuntman.
I'm no line cook anymore. I like sugar and alchemy. I'm macho too, but in a different way.
Another pastry chef recently contacted me. She wanted to know what consulting is like, how much does it pay and how do you let people know you exist. A different person wrote to me, a savoury chef-- she said that she didn't think she could consult-- to have someone else in charge of her food-- she could not imagine letting go of it in that way. Two months ago a close friend of mine said it seemed to him that I was really good about talking about my feelings, better than most.
What do I say to all of this? Nothing is easy. I make it look easy? You're not inside my head, my heart. I am not my recipes. And if I give someone a folder of lists of ingredients, amounts and times & temperatures, they cannot be me. Who takes care of a pot de creme like me? Who watches those custards like they were newborn babies, who listens to their every breath like me? No one.
I thought I could leave my heart at the doorjam if I was a consultant.
At the end of this week I make a transition: I am done with one kitchen and I start to support another. In between I go where the bagels are real but the face features and lawns are not.
It's all a process, yo. You want advice from me in this area? Sorry, I am taking a vacation from making it look easy. Now it's your turn.
Whatever will be will be.