Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (chefs)
Don’t let ’em pick guitars (knives) or drive (cook on) them old trucks (ranges)
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (chefs)
‘Cause they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone
Even with someone they love
~ Ed and Patsy Bruce
I always feared Beau would follow my flour dusted footsteps into the kitchen. It’s not any kind of life anyone should wish upon their offspring, especially ones they love. That might sound a dire proclamation coming from a guy who spent over half his lifetime sweating in hot kitchens pretending to be a Chef. Cooking professionally is a hard knocks life riddled with unimaginable strife I would not wish upon anyone.
I remember Chef Michel LeBorgne intimidating us newbies on the very first official day of school at the prestigious New England Culinary Institute. He proudly warned us that chefs have the highest divorce rates (check), drug and alcohol abuse rates (check) and suicide rates (thought about it several times after surviving a particularly grueling dinner service when I was left wondering why I chose cooking for a vocation). He went on about his apprenticeship in France as a young man. He and a fellow commi shared just one pair of shoes between the two of them. Thank god they worked opposing twelve hour shifts and therefore could share them. The speech intended to screen out any chef wannabes who didn’t get the memo that being a cook was a masochistic profession not geared for everyone. Maybe because choosing to cook is a bit like choosing self mutilation as a hobby. You had to have the spirit of a pirate with a predilection for the rockstar lifestyle without the money to afford your habit and the subsequent rehab required to reintegrate back into civilian life. Maybe this is where the suicide statistic pops in. Readjustment to society’s norm is a challenge, even for the best of us.
Our son Beau is on the cusp of developmental phases, somewhere between being a bébé and becoming a small boy. We decided to navigate this stage ‘a la Francaise’, using Pamela Druckerman’s groundbreaking book ‘Bringing up Bébé’ as our guide. If I understood her correctly, we have reached the point where Beau is to learn he is not the only human on Planet Earth and frustration is good. Beau must get used to the occasional ‘non’ and face rejection. A concept most chefs aren’t used to. Like small children, most Chefs view themselves as all powerful dictators issuing iron-fisted edicts from the comfort of their 110 degree lair. And like small children, it is not an uncommon sight to see a chef red-faced, crying and screaming after being told no.
Cooking together seemed like a good way for us to bond. He learns self-control by remaining focused on a task from start to finish. The beauty of Pamela’s recipe is it is extremely forgiving and highly adaptable to improvisation. You can add one yogurt container of chocolate chips or two of berries or neither. Almost a bullet proof recipe. The only step we did was put it into a 375 degree oven for 35 – 45 minutes and pull it out. I was so proud of Beau. By the twinkle in his eye, I knew he was proud too.
I present to you ‘Yogurt Cake from Bringing up Bébé’, in several pictures: