For a project I'm working on, I'm trying to reach people I had Skills with, oh so long ago. If you happen on this post and learned how to make veal stock and fish velouté and sauce Robert and duchess potatoes and cauliflower Polonaise under the direction of Chef Pardus in the winter of 1996 I'd love to hear from you and to know what you're doing, in the food world or out. In fact, I'd love to hear from any students mentioned by name in The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, or know someone who was—please, hit the contact link above and send me an email.
Reading the above, it occurs to me that I've chosen what sound like outdated and old-fashioned preparations (except for veal stock, of course). When was the last time you saw cauliflower Polonaise on a menu? But, in fact, learning those base skills (and writing about them) laid a foundation for all that I've done since and I feel--ever in search of lost time--a nostalgia for those short weeks and those preparations that verges on aching.
And, in fact, cauliflower, is an underused and wonderful vegetable, and cauliflower Polonaise (blanched, garnished with brown butter, bread crumbs, chopped egg and parsley) is actually really good if it's made right.
Learn the basics and you can do anything.