LETTERS TO A YOUNG CHEF
Release date: 09/01/2003
You can say one thing for Boulud, owner of top-flight New York restaurants Daniel, Café Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne: he's not one for coddling. In this rather skimpy collection of advice to recent culinary school grads, he shoots straight from the hip. Working as a chef in someone else's restaurant wouldn't be his choice, he explains, or the choice of anyone with true passion, he implies. "Still, it is a life." Instead, these brief chapters on topics like finding a mentor and controlling one's ego and ambition ("I have a healthy dose of both," he confesses) are aimed at a very specific audience: those who want to open their own restaurants, and they'd better be young (over 30 is over-the-hill) and hungry—and not just for a perfect coq au vin. The book is long on generalities, but rather short on specifics. One exception is the chapter on wine and dessert, which explains that 10% to 15% of an average check is generated by the latter, and one-third by the former. Boulud can also be maddeningly contradictory, as when he lauds all things seasonal, then broadens the definition to include chanterelles from Oregon, because they reach New York in two days. A final chapter listing the 10 commandments of a chef (including keep knives sharp and learn the world of food) restates much of the previous information in pithier form. This book is the Monsieur Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll version of culinary training presented in Jacques Pépin's The Apprentice (Forecasts, March 3). Recipes not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Forecast:Boulud addresses a limited audience of young people on the verge of graduating from culinary school. The few curious foodies who do pick this up are likely to be disappointed, so expect less than stellar sales.