Every great chef looks to the great chefs who came before them for inspiration. Techniques upon which to build, styles from which to expand and extraordinarily tantalized palettes are all points which any culinary great uses to spring forward into unchartered epicurean delights.
Chef Dan Silverman of The Standard Grill is no different. After gluttonously devouring his Suckling Pig Confit the other night, I began to wonder from where his elaborate dishes originate, so I high-tailed it into the kitchen and asked him where he gets his inspiration. The answer was simple, he informed me… Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point and Like Honey From A Weed by Patience Gray…two of the greatest cookbooks ever written.
Fernand Point only lived 57 years in the early 20th century, but he enjoyed every minute of that short-lived life. He was 25 years old when became famous for his cooking and by that time he had already spent the better part of his life in the kitchen. Throughout his exquisitely luxurious culinary adventures, he kept a notebook filled with his musings on his extravagant life and cuisine, which he felt were synonymous with each other. It was this notebook that later became known as Ma Gastronomie, an inspiration to chef’s across the world.
On the other end of the spectrum, Patience Gray wrote of a different culinary life in Like Honey from a Weed. Hers was a more modern adventure through the 60s and 70s and experienced while traveling through the mediterranean region with a man she only refers to as “the sculptor”.
For Gray, it was a time of feast or famine, and it was the simplicity of the cuisine she encountered during this time when she didn’t know from where her next meal would transpire. An appreciation of the seasonal foods she acquired along the way became a way of life for her.
“Poverty rather than wealth gives the good things of life their true significance. Home-made bread rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with olive oil, shared – with a flask of wine – between working people, can be more convivial than any feast.” It was this idea that gave birth to a cookbook that fed a new generation of chefs.
So with that I urge you to putting on your toque, head into the kitchen and whip yourself into a cooking frenzy. And if you do feel like sharing your garlic rubbed homemade bread with olive oil drizzle, just make sure you also have a martini waiting for me…