Not so much starving as hungry. Well, not so much hungry as dying for something to eat. I can’t really say I’m lacking in something to eat … Let’s just say, I need more.
Not more on my plate — I’m sure you can agree we all have too much on our plates — but simply something exciting. A restaurant is more than a place to sit, eat, drink and be. Not a culinary adventure around every corner but a respite from our everyday. We break from the norm of cooking at home, living in our cocoons.
We go to see someone else sweat and labour. And it always tastes sweeter — or savoury, for that matter — when you know they have outdone themselves. Bravo, as the actors say.
But, to this day, I can count on one finger how many times I have stopped, seen the hand of a true artist and yelped, “Yes!” in food-gasmic delight. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say I still think about the … ellipsis. The suspension point between what I had on my fork and the roll of the tongue as my brain wondered what beauty that was. Wait, is it? No, wait, I think it’s … another ellipsis, trailing off into silence.
I’m not proud of this. I’ve had great meals, don’t get me wrong. I’ve adored flavours I never thought possible. I’ve been blown away by the execution of this dish with that wine. Falling over myself at the feet of a chef has even happened more than once in my rich and savoury life. But there has only been one silence.
You may think I’m crazy. A fool in gourmet’s clothing. Or you may know what I am talking about.
So I ask, Where are the chefs that speak through that silence? Who is wielding the pan? I have a tough time seeing you through the forest of ordinary vs mundane. If you are a young chef reading this, take my advice: stop, remember why you plop butter in the pan and try to silence me. If you are a diner, waiting for a table, heed this: stop, remember why you became a gourmet — a lifetime profession, if there ever was one — and look for the silence. The best conversation between a chef and his audience can only be heard that way.