We Meet At Last!
Dear Chef Bourdain;
It was an honor to meet you and Chef Ripert last night! I saw your lecture in Santa Barbara. Tickets to the event were a wedding gift from my fiancee’s cousin Hannah and her boyfriend Nic, himself a chef once upon a time. Being regulars at your favorite restaurant, they had secret intelligence that you might be there later that night. I had hoped to attend the after party at Joe’s Cafe, but Jesus Harold Hopping Christ, Chef, it was $250.00 a head to get in. And for what? Cocktails and canapes? For that much, it better come with a blow job and a framed picture of the occasion. And when it comes to blow jobs, I’m afraid I’m all booked up. So dropping a grand to get the four of us in for bad food and watery drinks was just out of the question. You’re a cool dude, Chef, but you’re not a thousand dollars cool.
Happily our strategem worked. We killed some time getting a drink and wandering around, and when we came to the restaurant, voila – there you were! I’m mindful of the fact that you weren’t at the (egregiously overpriced) public reception for a reason, presumably to enjoy a quiet dinner without being hounded by fans. Still, Chef, I couldn’t let the opportunity to say hello go by. I’d brought with a folder with a printout of the picture from the infamous Guts Night to prove that we’d really done it, as well as a printout of that entry. But we put into the hands (with help from Hannah) of the organizers at UCSB, so I have no idea if you ever got it. (Also included, wedding invitation. But hey, you knew you were invited, right?)
Anyway, one way or the other, you got this URL if you’re reading this, so it worked! Thanks also for taking a minute to chat about this project with me. And In Re: Julie Powell – I had no idea about the whole “Julie/Julia” thing before I started this dealio. As a matter of fact, I was poking around for a recipe from Dave Chang‘s Momofoku cookbook and found a funny, interesting blog called “Momofoku For 2” – where the author, Steph, cooks her way through Momofoku. I had no idea this was an idea that had been done to death. So, hey, sorry to be treading well-trodden ground. But you know what? Fuck Julie Powell. I went back and read that book, and she’s smug, self-absorbed, and as neurotic as fuck. Personally, I will cop only to being smug. Maybe a little neurotic. I had the happy privilege of meeting Julia Child on the day her kitchen was opened at the Smithsonian, I just happened to be there, and I stood in line and shook her hand, and thanked her for a lot of the recipes that my family enjoyed in my youth. This was, by the way, a filthy lie – my mother and grandmother were terrible cooks who were more suited for operating a microwave than anything else, and wouldn’t know a braise from a raisin. Except gravy – my Grandma rocked the gravy. Her gravy was the shit.
Anyway Chef, here I am. Friday night I finished my 50th recipe from your book, and already I’ve accomplished some of what I set out to do. I learned how to make a proper sauce, something that’s always eluded me in the past. I’ve learned a passel of great French recipes – and no joke – most of them in your book are absolutely excellent, and a few are goddamn life-changing. Like poulet roti, the first. I had no idea chicken could be that good. It was the first pan sauce I made, and the first in a series of realizations about how to take great ingredients and make them shine.
So thanks for taking a bit to talk to me. Your rilletes recipe needs some work, Chef. And listen, if you don’t dig this whole project, I have “no reservations” (see what I did there?) about registering letterstoripert.com, ok?
And most of all, fuck Julie Powell!