What makes a great chef?
Jennifer Rubell, 36, writer, renowned hostess, hotelier, Harvard grad and member of the illustrious Rubell clan, is poised to become the country’s newest entertaining guru. Jennifer is currently Food and Entertaining Editor of the Miami Herald’s Home & Design magazine, Former Contributing Food Editor of, the recently folded (March 2009), Condé Nast shelter magazine Domino, and her first book, Real Life Entertaining, was released in May 2006 by HarperCollins. She writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and has appeared in, among others, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Better Homes and Gardens, Elle, The New York Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Travel + Leisure, Ocean Drive and Food & Wine. In 2007, Paper Magazine named Jennifer one of its 30 most beautiful people.
Entertaining is in Jennifer Rubell’s blood. Her uncle, the late Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell, treated Jennifer as his own child, taking her along to parties with Halston, Calvin Klein, Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger, and inviting her to every major event at Studio 54, starting at the age of 7. Her parents, world-renowned contemporary art collectors Donald and Mera Rubell, became famous in the ‘80s for the Whitney Biennial after-party they hosted at their Upper East Side townhouse. With artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol roaming around the house, Mera turned out bowl after bowl of spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, with Jennifer at her side learning the Rubell family style: personal, unconventional and decidedly hands-on.
Jennifer Rubell: Well I think what makes a great professional chef is somebody . . . Well scratch that. I think what makes a great professional chef or home cook is somebody with a terrific palate first of all. Somebody who loves to eat; and has a really good sense of flavor; and has tasted a lot of different things in the world; thinks about food and really applies that to their cooking; and has some kind of . . . some kind of philosophy that they bring to the world of food. Now that’s what makes a great cook or a great chef.
To be a very, very good home cook, you don’t need all that. You just need to be able to cook a few dishes well. But somebody who is really pushing . . . pushing the public’s sense of taste, or flavor, or the definition of cooking is going to be somebody who has a real perspective. And they’ve arrived at that perspective through a lot of tasting, and they are then pushing it to something new. It’s what makes a great artist in any medium.
Recorded on 12/13/07
A great home cook needs much less than a great professional chef.
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