Your idols?

For me they are in order; Mario Batali, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria. I'm glad to say that I've actually met two of them.

I have the greatest respect for Julia Child but I think her biggest contribution was teaching Americans what to eat rather than just how to cook it. That was an eye opener in the US.

Other candidates: Keith Floyd, Paul Proudhomme, Alice Waters, Fergus Henderson, Gabriel Hamilton.

You won't get past the doorman list: Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine and all time loser David Ruggerio.

  • Posted by: pierino
  • April 23, 2011


Burnt O. April 24, 2011
This is a great thread! I've seen some names I don't know much about and will enjoy learning more about them.
RobertaJ April 24, 2011
Julia. Above all others. But followed closely by Jacques Pepin. And of the contemporary people, Rick Bayless.
pierino April 23, 2011
Hardlikearmour, Pierino is inelegible because he was born in Kenya to Italian speaking Irish parents.
amysarah April 23, 2011
There are so many cooks/chefs/writers who've inspired and taught me...but bona fide idols? That's a tall order.

I guess: Julia Child (so much more than a cook; she opened eyes, mouths, and minds - the best kind of teacher); MFK Fisher - she made food about so much more than eating; Patricia Wells - amongst my most used cookbooks, real and do-able without being dumbed down; Paula Wolfert - so knowledgeable, opened my eyes to whole areas of cooking and food history/culture; Marcella Hazan - Essentials...enough said.

And I just realized my entire list is made up of women. Not intentional, but there you go. Which reminds me - not to be schmoopy, but my #1 has to be my mom - an adventurous and joyful cook, and my grandma - the real deal.
beyondcelery April 23, 2011
Elizabeth David. Her collection of essays, Is There a Nutmeg in the House?, is truly inspiring. It's a beautiful quirky look at some of the older ways of doing things in the kitchen, such as how food was handled and viewed in Renaissance cooking. For example, the recipe she quotes from the Kent medical collection:

To Take Away Horaseness
“Take a Turnip, cut a hole in the top of it and fill it up with brown sugar-candy, and so roast it in the embers and eat it with Butter.”

Old recipes fascinate me for their window into how tastes have changed over the centuries. Such as this recipe I copied off the wall of the Monk's kitchen in Glastonbury Abbey:

Fygey Pudding
3 pt. white wine
3 pt. water
1 tbls honey
1 teas. ground ginger
2 tbls raisens
1 tbls ground almonds
4 or 5 dried figs, cut in ¼ with stem removed
pinch salt

Simmer on gentle heat 10-15 min till figs and raisens are swollen and soft. Pour into cups.
latoscana April 23, 2011
James Beard whose Beard on Bread taught me so much about baking.
Joan Nathan who has made a career of documenting Jewish cuisines from around the world, and bringing them to new generations.
And, Pierino, please reconsider Julia Child. I don't think she merely taught people how to eat - she also taught chefs how to develop recipes for home cooks. She made cooking accessible to a broad public. When you read her letters to Avis DeVoto, you really appreciate how much effort she put into making recipes workable and replicable for the home cook. She created and set a standard for cookbooks and recipes - quite an achievement. We are all the beneficiaries of her life's work.
boulangere April 23, 2011
Extremely well said, usuba dashi. I feel very much the same. I have several friends who are small, as in non-factory, producers of organic bison, beef, lamb, and vegetables. They work harder than I can imagine doing, and generally love what they do. But whether on a given day they love it or not, they persevere. Without their products, it wouldn't matter what anyone told us to do with it. Thank you.

Voted the Best Reply!

usuba D. April 23, 2011
All the farmers who provide us with the wonderful fruits, veggies, meats and other wonderful ingredients. We all need to spend more time in the gardens, pastures, orchards and barns to truly appreciate what they do to provide for our meals. They are my idols and to them I give thinks everyday.
SKK April 23, 2011
Who inspires me to keep learning about food and cooking (not in any order):
My grandmothers - maternal and paternal - who taught me to can and preserve
Shirley Corriher
T. Colin Campbell, PhD - Author of 'The China Study'
Martha Rose Shulman
Marcus Samuelsson
Mark Bittman
Food 52 - everyone
Michael Pollan
Jennifer Cornbleet 'Raw Food Cooking Made Easy for 1 or 2 People'
Olaiya Land - Seattle
Shannon Galusha - chef/owner Bastille Restaurant Seattle
Every friend and family member I have who loves to cook and takes the time to share recipes with me and advice.

Thanks for the question, pierino.

PersephonesDish April 23, 2011
Great question, great answers!

I'd add Deborah Madison to the list. I grew up reading cookbooks and hanging out in the kitchen with two parents who loved to cook, but Deborah Madison was the chef who changed me the most as an adult. As I got better at finding local produce, and living in a village in a New England with a thriving farmer's market helped, she really showed me delicious ways to make that produce the center of the meal. Or even to have meals with no center, just bowls and platters of flavorful nourishing produce and grains and cheeses that were thrilling, comforting - anything but virtuous and drab.
hardlikearmour April 23, 2011
Rose Levy Berenbaum, Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher. Do I get bonus points if I add pierino to the list?
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