Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Artsy Wednesday: Chef as Artiste

Today's artsy post is really a continuation of yesterday's meandering thoughts about food and commercialization and the expectations we have for chefs as they get big.

Throughout the day yesterday, I thought some more about what we expect of chefs. They're in such a complicated spot (much the same spot as writers, actually). On one hand, they are skilled craftsman, trained in a trade. They can always get a job on the line or whatever.

On the other, though, they're creative professionals - artistes. And this is where the complicated and, I think, unfair expectations come in.

The idea of the starving artist wasting away in his garrett, entertained by nothing but his work and drugs or whatever - this is a romantic notion. But it's not real. Even Michelangelo had a legion of students who helped him complete his work. So why is it a problem if Batali has a bunch of amazing executive chefs executing his vision?

I guess this isn't that much of an issue for the average diner (even if they are disappointed when they make their pilgrimage to Babbo and don't see any orange Crocs). It seems that the purists are often the ones with the pens - the professional critics. Or at least semi-professional.

I suppose that chefs could be in trouble, as this "semi-professional" category grows. But maybe with the internet, rational thinking with respect to chef commercialism is expanding?

Or maybe not, since that might be the first time the expansion of "rational thinking" and "the internet" have ever been used together in one sentence...

P.S. Sorry - I'm a little off and rambly this morning. I am on my new computer, but still getting used to it and my files are all over the place. I have to go back to Best Buy today to have them find my old email and my calendar, so I'm still feeling sort of lost and out of sorts.

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