Friday, January 16, 2009

Hail To The Chef

So who is going to be in the kitchen in the new restaurant?  You've seen all the recent press announcements and I'm sure the one line that got your attention was that Andrew Adams is the Executive Chef.  Why not me?   I will explain why I am assuming another role in a future post. For those of you that don't know him, allow me to introduce you.  Andrew has been my longtime Chef de Cuisine at both Wally Joe and The Brushmark.  He was 16 years old when he started working with me at KC's in Cleveland.  After a couple of years, Andrew took off to culinary school at the famed Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York.  In my opinion, Andrew is the best young chef in Memphis today.  Of course you say I am biased, yes I may be, but that is besides the point.  In the 10+ years that we've worked together, I've seen him learn and mature in his talents.  I grew up in the business and did not have the opportunity to attend culinary school.  Nor was I lucky enough to have worked with a great chef.  My education was self taught.  Julia Child used to say that one should not say that one is self taught.  You always learn from someone else.  A matter of opinion,  but no one taught me how to make a great sauce or to properly braise a piece of meat.  I learned how to do that on my own by experimentation and trial and error.  Yes, I read a ton of cookbooks and dined at some of the best restaurants in the world, but I most definitely taught myself to cook.  While I cook by instinct and with my senses, Andrew is more technically sound than I ever was.  

We've been together a long time and I guess it's true we do think and cook alike because of that reason. His food is thoughtful, well conceived, and most important, taste good.  He has a firm grasp on classic cooking yet approaches modern techniques with sensibility.  Andrew has a great cooking pedigree.  In addition to working with me,  he also worked with two of my very good chef friends.  He worked with the late Jamie Shannon at Commander's Palace in New Orleans.  No explanation needed there.  I also set him up with Chef Craig Shelton of The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, NJ where he cooked for a year.  The Ryland Inn is a Relais & Chateaux property and Chef Shelton was a past winner of the James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic award. Andrew has been around some of this nation's greatest chefs  by cooking with me at the many food and wine events around the country as well as KC's annual James Beard/St.Jude benefit dinners so by osmosis, he's absorbed much knowledge from that. How many young chefs in town can claim that?  

Behind every successful chef, there is a strong No.2.  I personally know many chefs that wouldn't think of sharing the spotlight with their lieutenants.  It is time for him to step out from under my shadow.  My ego is not so great that I need all the attention.  I've always believed that a chef's responsibility is to teach and pass the mantle to the next generation.  He deserves the limelight now. I have great faith in him and I know you will love his food too.  As I said earlier, there is no doubt he is the best young chef in Memphis.  

No comments:

Post a Comment