Daniel Boulud's Letters to a Young Chef
I recently picked up and read this incredibly insightful book on a whim (basically I had $15 burning a hole in my pocket) and read it pretty much in a day. I wouldn't choose this book for the ReadCookEat bookclub as its really not for the average foodie - its far more directional for the professional cook - but I couldn't really let the reading go by without talking about it here.
Boulud's long and very publically noted career at some of the world's best restaurants places him squarely in the position of being able to speak to a young chef and to tell him or her exactly how it is. What is like to work for the best - what is it like to work hard for the best and how do you manage to survive in the industry and indeed thrive in it. Its got some interesting anecdotes and even more interesting foodie tips - but this slim little volume is more important for the direct tone it takes with the reader. Basically, this is a roadmap for someone to become the best chef they can possibly be.
The only sour note that I found in it is that he makes specific mention that this is written for the young chef in mind - and he specifically states that if he were talking to a 30 year old it would be a very different conversation. At first reading I thought he was saying that at 30 one is just too old to become a chef, but on second reading I'm thinking that he perhaps is saying that at 30 one is not really able to necessarily traverse the world in search of taste sensations and cooking mentors.
Personally, I found this a really very inspiring look into one man's culinary career - but that's what it is, precisely. One man's experience and one man's opinion. If I wanted to be a chef, I'd not let his telling me that I'm too old stop me in any way shape or form. If anything, Heat taught me that one is NEVER too old to step into the kitchen.