9:35am | September 20, 2010

Who’s Your Favorite Person to Cook For?

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Chefs love cooking for other chefs. You would think celebrities would be high on the list – and it is fun and exciting when Julia Roberts or the Beckhams come into the restaurant. But celebrities change the energy level in the room. We find ourselves working twice as hard to make sure that the rest of the people eating at Bottega that night feel equally important. On the other hand, when we’re fawning over a chef, our other customers don’t seem to mind – they just want to know what the chef is eating.

At Bottega, I’ve had the chance to cook for some of the chefs I most admire: Julian Serrano, Morimoto, Michel Richard, Paul Bartolotta, Rick Bayless, Hubert Keller, Lidia Bastianich, Dr. Tim Ryan, the President of the Culinary Institute of America, just to name a few. Our local chef talent is so huge, there are many, many chefs I’ve had the pleasure to cook for since we opened Bottega.

With all of these compatriots, I get a chance to share my craft, hear what they’re up to, do some wine pairings with wines from my own vineyards, and sit and catch up. I like to stretch the envelope a little when a chef is in the house: I’ll consider the chef’s background and serve some foods that are in their wheelhouse or maybe bring out a dish that we’ve been working on but not yet added to the menu. With Serrano, for example, we turned our menu into a tapas-like mini tasting: half of a crispy soft-cooked egg with a slice of pork belly confit and a silky corn spuma.

When I cook for a chef it’s a chance to thank them for their glorious craft, a way to honor their work with my own. Plus, there’s always that unwritten rule: chefs don’t like to spend their after-tax dollars on each other. My chef friends know that their money is no good in my restaurant.

Who is the person that you’ve most enjoyed cooking for and what did you cook for them? Stay tuned – next time I’ll talk about which chefs have knocked it out of the park, inspiring me in their own restaurants.

-Michael

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