I was an amusement and water park fiend as a kid growing up. I loved them. My brothers and I would go whenever we could. We liked all the super steep/fast slides and flumes where you would get completely soaked. Our absolute favorite was the tubes, though.
The true mark of professionalism is the ability to respect everyone else for their styles and always find something positive in every dining experience and highlight it in your thoughts and words.
Part of what makes a great chef is the ability to adapt, cook, and to taste. A great chef will use all their food knowledge, food memories, and senses to work with each ingredient and apply themselves to the dish they are creating.
When you think about French pastry, one of the most classic traditional pastries is the eclair. An eclair is like a blank canvas that can be easily adapted to any environment. Ingredients are the most important aspect of a perfect eclair, and they need to be used at their peak.
Adding salt to desserts helps to balance and pronounce flavors. Almost all of my desserts have salt in them. They don't taste salty per se, but if I gave you two of the same item - one with salt and one without - side by side, you would realize something was missing.
If you take everything personally and to heart, it will tear you apart. Take criticism, learn, adjust, and move on.
I love pies of all types. I especially love rhubarb. I grew up with rhubarb growing on our property, and my mom would make rhubarb pies and jam. I have to admit, though, my earliest memories of rhubarb were not fond ones, but over time, I grew to love it.
Daniel Boulud told me at a young age, 'Whatever happens to you in your career, you're going to be great - be humble. Just be humble.' And I think about that daily. Like, whatever happens to me, whatever awards we win as a team or whatever else, just be humble.
At one point, in one of the kitchens where I worked, I was the only American pastry cook. They treated me poorly. 'You're stupid. You're American. You don't get it.' They'd speak French all day. At one point, my boss said to me, 'You learn French or get out right away.'
I have pictures of me feeding deer and possums with baby bottles. I am such an animal lover.
Just because you love to cook and you are good at in your home environment doesn't necessarily mean that you are cut out for competition. It is a different animal and requires you to approach cooking in a very different way.
My mom was a rescue veterinarian, and I grew up helping her nurse injured animals back to health. Any deer hit by a car, fox caught in a trap, whatever it was that got hurt, everyone brought them to my mom.
For me, some things, like, I just don't want to know what they are before I eat them. Like, if you're going to start feeding me, like, sexual organs of animals, or, like, a monkey's brain or something - I'll eat it. Just don't tell me what it is until after I've finished it.
I fell in love with pastry because I felt I could be much more creative. It's precise, and you don't have to kill anything.
If you would ask me some of the ingredients that people are surprised by that could appear on my menu are such things as bleu cheese, vegetables like parsnips and rutabaga, bacon, pork fat, fois gras, truffles, and olives.