Today we visited with my mentor (whom I worked under during my days at Lutece), Chef Andre Soltner, and we had lunch together at the International Culinary Center where he now teaches.We talked, reminisced, and had a good time.
It is always great to spend time with him and it is also great that some of my staff get to meet and just be around him. Most of the younger culinarians don't know who he is, what he did in his time, and what that time in culinary history means to cuisine today. Ferran Adria is quoted as saying, "One must understand the past to understand the present and the future." I also got to see Christian Bertrand, the chef de cuisine at Lutece at that time I was there. He drove in from Connecticut and we spent some time in the morning together. He is one of the best cooks I have ever known. We are cooks before becoming chefs. It's funny -- I come all the way to NYC, see them, and I feel grounded in a certain way. For half of the day, I was the cook and student again with my mentors -- a time when "oui chef" was the norm for me and a time when I was more of a listener. It was actually quite refreshing for me.
A great day today with two of the chefs I respect the most.