I have always been the type of person who feels that as long as you are
happy, then I am happy too. I think I became a chef because I saw a special
look on people’s faces after they enjoyed a great meal. That look said
“happy” and “satisfied.” I realized then that food changes your every
emotion. When I found out that I had the ability to do that with food, that I
could effect my friends and family in such a positive way, it was then that I
fell in love with cooking.
My mother was good at this. When she cooked for us, it was like she knew
exactly what we needed, and she delivered in her food. I still smell my
mother’s yeast rolls and cornbread. My brothers and I would wake up in the
middle of the night and sneak downstairs to see if there was just one more
piece left. (Keep in mind that I was the youngest of ten kids, so leftovers
were a precious commodity!) Often I was too late, and someone else had
already beaten me to the punch. The next morning we’d all laugh about who got
the goods. No one would confess, but you could always tell who the lucky kid
was — the one with crumbs in the bed.
My mom didn’t really use recipes. She had learned what worked and what
didn’t, and she went from there. I go by instinct and experience as well.
Recipes are only guidelines, not commandments, so you are welcome to change
these recipes and adapt them to your own preferences. When you cook, think
about more than taste. Consider texture, appearance, and how all the
ingredients work together. And don’t forget aroma! Smell is very important.
That’s why the nose is above the mouth. When something smells good, your
taste buds are activated, and you get the full flavor of the food.
Just remember, I have prepared all these dishes the long and complicated way,
and I have already made all the mistakes there are to make. You’ll see that
the recipes are very simple, very easy. There’s nothing to be afraid of here.
Read the recipe one or two times before you start; get everything together;
follow my directions; and most of all, enjoy yourself in the kitchen. Soon
you’ll see that you can make yourself and your guests very happy. I learned
very early in the business that my goal as a chef was to make you happy.
That’s what my mother and father taught me, and that’s what you’ll learn
from these recipes.
Good food makes people happy.