Is the apprenticeship process still important?
Tanya Steel is a well-known food writer and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning food Web site, Epicurious.com. Before joining Epicurious, Steel was the New York Editor of Bon Appetit magazine, where she wrote columns and features. Ms. Steel won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Magazine Restaurant Review or Critique, 2003. She is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a James Beard Restaurant Judge. Prior to Bon Appétit, she was an editor at Diversion, Food & Wine, and Mademoiselle magazines. In recent years, Steel created the charity program Wine. Dine. Donate. to combat hunger in conjunction with America's Second Harvest. Steel is the co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids, which was published in late 2008.
Tanya Steel: I think the apprenticeship process is so important because it’s one thing to learn theories, and to kind of take that theory and learn it and reproduce it in the classroom and have one chef judge you and 20 others at the same time. It’s another thing to be on the line with someone yelling at you with diners waiting for their food, and with fires going up next to you, and people pushing you aside, and expecting, expecting, expecting. “Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?” So I think the apprenticeship is so crucial. I mean as in every career, doing it is very different from learning about it. So especially learning from different people around the world, because everyone’s got their own take. Indigenous ingredients are so different wherever you go, and you’re also learning not just that cuisine and those techniques and those ingredients. You’re also learning a family’s history, and that is something that is so fantastic about food. It’s that you’re kind of . . . All the chefs that are doing those apprenticeships in different parts of the world are also kind of steeping those mothers’ recipes – from the chefs’ mothers’ recipes that have been passed down for hundreds of years. So there’s something very beautiful about that kind of connection to people’s history and to their culture that they’re bringing back to their restaurants and their cookbooks and exposing us all to.
It's a way to learn an inheritance, says Steel.
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