The first table I ever waited on would comprise two serious chefs, Richard Czack and CIA prez Ferdinand Metz, and the parents of a seminal American chef. It was in the St. Andrew’s restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America and it is forever linked in my mind with two similar drinks, the Sea Breeze and the Madras. The following is from the book that forever altered my course: Chef Czack did not look like a chef—balding, glasses, slight of frame; I didn’t know his age but he seemed elderly. His voice was nasal, fussy. He looked and sounded more like an accountant’s clerk. But Chef Czack was in fact a certified master chef and I was excited to be serving him and his guests, Mr. and Mrs. Forgione, parents of celebrity chef Larry, and Read On »

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  My Dinner with Pardus Originally posted July 31, 2008 Do you have any veal hearts?” Pardus asked. The vendor, with happiness and surprise, said, “I do!” He pulled it out of the cooler and said, “How about five bucks?” “Sold!” What happens when a chef visits for the weekend? My old instructor and now close friend Mike Pardus (pronounced PAR-dus—some people think because he’s a chef, it’s pronounced par-DOO) visited recently. The main fact about Michael is that he is a cook in every fiber of his body, meaning, in part, that when he’s away from his work as a chef instructor at the CIA, when he can do anything he wants because he’s on holiday, he chooses to cook all day. Which is what we did. An impromptu meal, Cleveland style. The occasion Read On »

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One of hard things about writing books is that they are in constant flux and then they are permanent. Thanks to the organic nature of blogs, I can make amends. When I was at the Culinary Institute of America, one of my best and favorite teachers was Eve Felder, who taught Garde Manger. She was the Cheshire Cat of chefs, perched high on stacked stools, who taught us that “Cooking is alchemy, cooking is magic!” And she was right. Righter than I knew, in fact. I’m heading to her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, and so she’s been on my mind. When I wanted to do a butter-poached shrimp for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I naturally wanted to pair it with grits. Who did I call for grits finesse points? Chef Felder. In the editing process of Read On »

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