Seasoned Chef Still Perfecting His Recipe for Success
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By Linda Broatch, M.A.
Could you describe a meal you cooked that's especially memorable?
Cooking for ex-British Prime Minister, John Major — a breakfast for 50 people here in San Francisco. The breakfast was totally British, and the PM was thrilled. He asked to meet me, and we had our picture taken together, and he later sent me a copy with a note written on it. Not too bad for the "thick" kid of the class.
What's your favorite meal to cook for your family?
One that my youngest daughter will eat, she is my toughest critic. Lately, that's pasta and meat sauce — not exactly the most extravagant dish!
On to the next course
Jeremy has several passions that keep him inspired and energized. He loves being good at what he does — "I want to be the best hotel chef in the city and build the best team in my department" — but not at anyone else's expense, he's quick to add. "If my colleagues ask me where I buy a certain ingredient, I tell them in a heartbeat. If someone wants a recipe — not that anyone's called me for one — I'll give it to them. Because, by the time someone else is asking for it, I should be working on something else anyway."
He also loves doing "good things for other people," such as teaching women inmates at a county jail how to cook nutritious meals, mentoring kitchen staff who lack formal training, or initiating a food and wine event to help a family in his San Francisco neighborhood whose husband/father had died tragically. "I'm not a saint or anything," he says, "but I just think you can give back in a variety of ways. My brother once asked me if I was a 'hippy Buddhist.' I told him, 'No, I'm just lucky; my position allows me to give back.'"
Jeremy considers himself a work in progress and feels it's important to always have goals. "I'm not successful yet," he says half-jokingly. "I always planned on doing what I'm doing right now. Being a chef in a five-star hotel was a goal, and now I've done that. I just haven't figured out what the next goal is. So, put me in the 'somewhat successful' category for now."
What's your advice for future chefs?
- Go and work in a restaurant kitchen for free before going headlong into this career. You might find the image does not match the reality.
- Read as much as you can, ask questions, and digest what goes on around you - you can learn more from your mistakes than your successes, but it's less painful to learn from other people's mistakes.
- Roll up your sleeves and shut your mouth (kind of harsh, but true).
- It is only what you did yesterday, are doing today, and going to do tomorrow that matters (This is a borrowed theory, not mine.).
- Every meal has your reputation stamped on it.
- Don't take it so seriously. Be relaxed — it annoys the uptight chefs. Have fun; it's just food!