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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef

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Guest Editor: Chris Manganaro
With food comes hunger. They are inseparable from one another, two sides of the same coin. On a daily basis it is likely that the word hungry crosses the lips or mind of every human being in the world at least once. We all think we know hunger, but it is a feeling which measures differently for everyone. Hunger is a word with more weight than we sometimes realize.
What makes a chef depends very much upon life experience. Memoirs like Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef are not uncommon as they reveal much about their authors through interactions with food which brought them into their current career path. Hamilton’s story is a bit different than others, of course. One of the reasons she believes in her ability to be a chef is due to her experiences with hunger.
Her trip through Europe with only so much to her name is where she reflects on this, though we see points of hunger before this, even in her childhood. Unlike many chefs, who have formed palettes from refinement, we see Hamilton experience quite a bit of the opposite in her early life. After her parent’s divorce, she even has to fend for herself. Hunger has played quite a part in her life. It culminates and hits her in that time in Europe when a simple meal unlocks such thoughts of how specific hunger is and how it can make the mind fully form the flavors of craved cuisine.
It is through these times of hunger in which Hamilton is also taught hospitality. By being generously offered food when at the lowest points in life, she learns the true essence of what food can offer people and is able to transfer that experience to owning a restaurant.
While her understanding of hunger is not necessarily the whole picture, it makes a great deal of sense that a true chef should have some idea about hunger as well as the way it works alongside hospitality. We cannot separate hunger from food. There is an obvious reason for that. They go hand in hand.

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