Eat Me

“Do you want two meats with that?” I was standing in a diner in Montgomery, Alabama on a blisteringly hot and humid day in the heart of Dixie. I love food. And I really can't stand bad food. “Yes ma’am, I’ll have the pully chicken and the fried pork chop”. My fate for the afternoon was sealed. I was likely headed to the bathroom for a date with Mylanta. Honestly, can anyone tell me why we accept poorly made or even puzzlingly mediocre meals at restaurants and pay money for those disappointing results? Does it bother you as much as it does me when friends eat TV dinners at home or look upon a meal as “fuel”? I don’t want me or you to settle for this state of food affairs because in this day and age I don’t believe we have to.

I was fortunate to grow up in a household where food was valued. My mom is an excellent cook and she really understood the value of how to execute an entire meal properly. Everything tasted good when she cooked. Food was properly seasoned. Meats were roasted and vegetables sautéed to the correct doneness. An entire meal was put together and orchestrated with meaning. And we sat down to eat together.

I can’t tell you the number of expense account dinners and multi-star Michelin restaurants I have been to that couldn’t meet the Judy Winitz domestic cooking diva standard ‘a la’ Julia Child. Mom got me going in the kitchen early, and by the age of 10 I was making my own pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce using Contadina canned tomatoes, dried oregano and sugar. My dad, no slouch in the kitchen either, brought another dimension to our dinner table: wine. A serious collector and student of oenology, my sister and I learned at an early age the craftsmanship of fine wine and the meaning that other countries and regions placed on it and its relationship to food. We sort of visited the UN every week – wines from France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Australia, and ultimately Napa Valley made me realize our food roots are far and wide, crossing borders, continents and oceans. Up until that time, I had no idea that the International House of Pancakes was bad breakfast food that lacked a global viewpoint. I knew I needed to travel.

The correlation between food and wine only became more intense for me as good wine demands complementary meals that are equivalent in execution, while being satisfying and purposeful. At the age of 12 we went on a trip to Napa as my father was on the board of directors of an up and coming winery in the valley. We got to walk through the grape vineyards of Oakville and have small sips of some of the Chardonnay being made. Very much like France, the soil and earth in Napa has a very distinctive and pleasing scent I still remember. For lunch that day we dined at Mustards Grill, an early beacon of thoughtful dining based on locally sourced products. I can still taste the smokiness of the Pacific mako shark I ordered. Toothy, flavorful, mature - I loved every bite of it. The importance of good food was rubbing off on me and at 14 years old I was cooking my first family meal: “Poulet de Normande” or Chicken with Apples and Calvados from the Normandy region of France. I think my mom and dad drank a French Beaujolais. That meal was excellent.

Since those formative years, I have spent a lot of time learning about food and how to prepare it. I am totally self-taught devoting time and effort to learn about the qualities of good cooking. I really believe anyone can cook and eat well. Eating great food means different things to different people. For me it calls out for using the freshest ingredients while executing the outcome perfectly. I'll take a well executed hamburger - using the right ratio of ground chuck and sirloin, seasoned properly with salt and pepper, and cooked to the right degree of doneness, over a flavorless and overcooked filet mignon any day. The net result is that food should taste good and we should demand nothing less from those that cook for us, or what we make for ourselves.

I’ve wanted to start Chefectomy for a long time. After traveling all over the world and marrying the woman of my dreams (who appreciates food and travel as much as I) Chefectomy is being born to share thoughts and views with others about the many dimensions of food: thoughtful preparation, simplicity in approach and technique, sophistication in execution, and the creativity food can offer and bring us together in an ever shrinking world.

The blog title is my humorous take on getting the world to cook and eat better. Professionals that pass off poorly made food for a lot of money need to have this procedure to realize those of us paying money expect more. And for the self taught or home cook, this term provides you the confidence to know you can sling hash with the best of them. Either way, a “Chefectomy” gets you to the same place: Understanding what makes good food good, and how to make it part of your life. Otherwise, there is no room on my plate for anything less.


Erin said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging! I can tell I am going to enjoy reading your posts.

Chefectomy said...

Thanks Erin, likewise - Marc.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marc-

I love couldn't be a better expression of you...I have been blessed to be spoiled by good food in San Francisco, and can truly appreciate your point of view. I've always secretly hoped you'd quit your job and become a chef... Do you want editorial comments or design comments.

Maybe the girls and I will dedicate a meal of the week to your posts.

Max Ashkenasi said...

Good going my friend, and interesting blog.
I also like good food and wine ... we'll come visit.

Good luck,

Nicole said...

Sounds like your are off to a fun journey! Blogging is a world of it's own and plenty of good traveling is available at your fingertips. Of course, nothing beats the real thing.

Your life sounds so nice. You are lucky your wife shares your passion.