the gods of cuisine

Joined Dec 16, 2001
hey has anyone here ever worked in the top places, you know like, daniel, lespinasse, lutece, le bernardin, union pacific, the french laundry,trotters, danko? anywhere like that? i was just wondering what its like and what are your impressions of that level of cooking, i hope someone replies!
Joined Jul 31, 2000
This is kind of a loaded question.

I guess it all depends on who you consider "the tops" I don't think it is nessersary to say "god"

One of my finest times was working and studying with madelein Kammen in Napa..This helped me to meet and work a couple days at Ch souvreigne in Sonoma with Garry Danko. This was before he went to the Ritz in San Fran and then opened his own place by the wharf.

When I learned the Christian Bertrand was leaving Lutece to open his own place in Greenwich CT, I figured this was my time to exit New york ( I lived and still do in CT) to work with Christian. He was Chef de Cuisine for 13 years at Lutece with Andre Soltner.

Chef Soltner was a man that I so looked up to as a young cook.

My Uncle Marty who has enjoyed all the finest places on earth found out that I wanted to become a "chef"So he decided to give me the tasty tour of NY best. Lutece was the second behind La Grenuollie. Anyway..Chef soltner was at the range cooking. I had wide eyes as I watch him baste the potatoes that hid his masterful alsation lamb. (sorry about the sp)

But Ross, May I say one thing about the masters ?
Masters do not know they are masters,

I also once looked to these chefs as Gods.....I then learned to relax and enjoy
Joined May 26, 2001
I did my externship from NY Restaurant School at Le Bernardin, from January to May, 1996. With the exception of volunteer experience, it was the first professional kitchen I'd ever worked in. It was heaven. It convinced me that I had chosen the right life.

It was not a walk in the park. Every cut had to be exactly the same. Everything had to be done fast, and perfectly. At the end of each night, the entire crew of cooks (including the executive sous) scrubbed down the kitchen. If I left a tray of fish at room temperature for longer than I absolutely had to, I was reminded in no uncertain terms that this was not acceptable! Actually, any mistake, made by anyone, was firmly corrected -- without raised voices and without profanity. Oh, sure, people got a little hysterical sometimes: once when we ran out of crab cakes during service, a CIA extern kept wailing, "There's no way we can make more!" even while I explained exactly what we should do so that we would have them, one of the sous chefs practically threw him against a wall saying, "Listen to her! She's right! So do what she says." Not quite violence, and no pejoratives, but boy, it was effective.

The kitchen was staffed with a truly diverse collection of colors, ethnicities, genders, ages, and levels of education. The most important aspect of every single person working there was that each wanted to do the best job possible and took great pains to to the job right. The day Garde Manger with whom I worked had the most meticulous care that every plate should be exactly the same, and exactly right. One of my happiest memories is of working with the tournant to prep more lobsters in the middle of service: standing by the window from the kitchen onto the corridor leading to the restrooms -- customers walking by could look in and see Sonya and me tearing apart live lobsters! What fun!

And the product!! What fabulous fish! Everything was top-notch. (Well, the one surprising short-cut that I remember, I will never, ever tell.) We made our own mayonnaise, of course. But not the bread.

So, overall, what did I take away from my experience at Le Bernardin? Respect for ingredients. Respect for the chef. Respect for the integrity of work. The understanding that a good kitchen is a civil kitchen. And that it is a CLEAN kitchen, with the cleanliness being EVERYONE'S responsibility. Other kitchens that I've worked in may have engendered some of those elements, but no other place has had all of them. Working at a 4-star restaurant gave me something to work toward, no matter where I am.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
This was such a wonderful post Suzanne. I read it twice with great pleasure and interest.

It's a far cry from Kitchen Confidential!

Joined Dec 16, 2001
hey, both of you chefs are great for replying to that post in such a compassionate and detailed manner, i really appreciate you all sharing those experiences with us all...i will take every word and detail meticulously to heart, gratefull to you both, well done

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