I'm frequently asked if my job as butler requires any kind of formal culinary training. As a matter of fact I do find myself in the kitchen quite frequently. On Chef's two days off I myself have to prepare the evening meal - usually just a pasta dish or casserole which the Mister and Missus can heat up later in the evening, whenever they decide they're hungry.
And there's often some last-minute cocktail party popping up and no time to run out for hors d'oeuvres. So I have to throw something together in a flash. When this happens, I always remember the advice of famous Washington DC hostess Sally Quinn in her book The Party. Says Quinn, "Food doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be good."
So when I got in a bind one evening without anything at all to serve, I thought about Quinn and sliced up a few frozen micro-waved corn dogs, stuck a frilly toothpick in each slice, and served it with a dip of expensive deli mustard. Presented on a sterling-silver platter along with designer cocktail napkins, it was a hit and not one slice was left.
But as for formal culinary training - no, none to speak of except one course in college. Which was by default. The unfortunate thing about going to college is that both the courses and the resulting homework can seriously distract from a person's social life and parties. In this tricky situation, somethings got to give, right? My grades were barely passing, but high enough to keep from being thrown out of school.
A buddy at the time who was in similar distress suggested we take some really easy classes to bring up our grade point averages. So one of the choices was a cooking class in the Home Economics department. Huge mistake! We were late the very first day, the only two males in the class. And the instructor said when we walked in, "It seems we have two thorns among the roses this semester."
It turned out to be mostly a baking class, and neither one of us really got the hang of it, especially when it came to souffles. And on the mid-term exam our cream puffs came out of the oven without the puff! So we packed them with cream, and they looked more-or-less ok. But when the instructor picked them up she made a comment about how heavy they were. Needless to say our grade point averages did not come up that semester.
My employers (out of undisguised self interest) have offered to send me to cooking classes, if I wish. But recalling my humiliation in college, I've been reluctant to do this. However, I've bought a few books, starting with Cooking for Dummies and have begun a serious flirtation with the idea of possibly someday learning how to cook. How's that for commitment?
Obviously the more skills you have the better if you want to work in household service. Traditionally my job as butler mostly involves taking care of the silver and the wine cellar, perhaps serving at table and receiving guests at the front door. But it never hurts to have some skills in the kitchen - especially if you have an unreliable party-animal Chef whom you intensely hate. So we'll see. I'd rather learn form a book than go off to some kind of nutty classes.
Thanks for stopping by tonight,
Thank God I don't have to cook, Andrew. I did just spend the entire day today under the California heat waiting on Mister Lucas and his 10 buddies as they lounged by the pool, ordering me about for drinks, towels, change the music. I know you advised me before not to take any abuse, and I am trying to find a way to let this kid know that I am not his bought a paid for slave. I think part of the appeal for him in front of his friends is having me wait on him literally hand and foot (bring me my sandals, get my towel, another beer!). Having a hard time here, and will begin the new job search soon.ReplyDelete
I don't blame you for looking for a new job. I wouldn't tolerate that kind of nonsense from anyone, no matter how rich.Delete
We're employed for legitimately-needed services, not to nurse someone's over-blown ego. Good luck with the job search.
You are making us laugh Andrew. But I think if you've had your job this long, your cooking must be better than you're letting on. I tried creampuffs once, with results similar to yours. At least I wasn't getting graded for it in school. Only by my disappointed children.ReplyDelete
With so many excellent bakeries all over the place, I see no real need to subject ourselves to the miseries and humiliation of baking. Ha! Just take the kids to the bakery and let them pick out their own treats for the day. You'll be their hero.
Thanks for reading, and for your comment.
Dear Andrew Your Blogs are always such fun to read !!! Thanks for brightning my Day !!! Sometimes I wish I was a little bug on the wall just to watch ! KEKReplyDelete
If I brighten your day, KEK, that brighten's mine as well. Thanks for your comment,Delete
This is going to sound cliche, but the Art of French cooking by Julia Childs is insanely easy to follow if your employers ever get sick of the drunk chef or caserolesReplyDelete
I adored Julia Childs! Miss Helen and I knew her personally in a hotel where we worked together. She was a frequent visitor, and a consultant on the hotel menu, along with Wolfgang Puck. (The Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas.)
But as for French cusine, I just can't get beyond the fact that their delicious and world-famous sauces were created to disguise the taste of rotting meat, in the days before refrigiration. Yuk! Just as their world-famous perfumes were designed to cover their body odors, since French people rarely bathe!!! (If you ever jump on the subway in Paris, you could die from the odor! Ha!)
Not that I have anything against the French.
Have you ever had to hand feed your employers? I know that sounds weird but I saw Millionaire Matchmaker the other day and one of the clients had a butler. Whenever the client leaned back in his chair, the butler fed him grapes.ReplyDelete
I hope you have never had to do this.
Sorry for the weird question
NOT IN A MILLION YEARS!!!!!! Ha!Delete
Nice to hear from you, Anna M.
Dear Andrew Your blogs are funny 'entertaining' and useful.What happens when the chef has a vacation and who cooks for the staff? FLIP.ReplyDelete
You just pushed every button I've got! Thanks for your accolades, and for reading!
When Chef is gone, the burden's on my shoulders! But I utilize the services of numerous up-scale take-out delicatessens, which my employers don't seem to mind. (Ha!)
As for lunches for the staff, we turn it into a party time -- hot dogs and burgers on the grill, not to mention pizza deliveries on speed dial!
I do make a few good pasta recipes, which I prepare from time to time for my employers. And they love my Caesar Salad with fresh grilled shrimp. But beyond that, I'm at the mercy of the deli's. Ha!
Please stop by anytime.