doug french [dougfrench]
When did you start cooking? Who got you started in this art?
When I was 15 I worked in a fast food restaurant and eventually worked my way out of the barrel room onto the the front line as cook to order fry cook
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?
I didn't really, it is something I was always able to find work as as I travelled. It still intersts me to become a better cook, but more for figuring out the science of food and how to cook it well and understand why it is healthy and good for the body. True healthy cooking that is delicious would be my main reason for pursueing it again. To be an uptight chef with an ego in the weeds on a pressure cooker of a night on a line in itself doesn't make me want to go back and do, however if I was really learning how to cook food well, and many diferent kinds, then I would be interested.
Is there a website or blog where we can see something about you and your cooking?
I have a travel blog, and a resume of the many different types of restaurants and baking I've done through the years, but that is about it.
What culinary training have you received? Where have you learned more, in class or by experimenting?
Unfortunately at this point I have not had any formal training, I have cooked in several restaurants, a fast food sit down type restaurant like Big Boy, for schools and nursing homes. I would be interested in more training to become better rounded, but what would really interest me is either working under someone like an internship, or the actual running of the restaurant and front end myself.
How and where did you get your first job as a professional cook?
I was promoted from doing dishes to the line when I was about 16.
How would you define your style?
It has evolved quite a bit. I think it more of looking at everything around me and figuring out ways to use the ingrediants and be creative with what you have. Using fresh ingrediants, making it healthy and appealing on all levels is very important. Soups, are a strenth with me, as well as continually experimenting and learning.
Do you select and buy the ingredients yourself? Where?
Oh ideally, and I will get them at a farm market, should I open a restaurant, setting up the right local and quality vendors would be the most important thing you could do.
What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?
Basi, I think because it has a strong original flavor, is easy to get fresh, is versatile in everything from Italian foods to Pesto's, and does go well with alot of different types of food
What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?
Seafood Gumbo, or perhaps Pork Roast.
What is your favorite cooking gadget?
Who have been the biggest inspirations in your career?
Some of my grandmas cooking, or housewives who did it day in and day out for their families for years without complaint. Those are the real pro's..
Do you have an funny kitchen incident to share with us?
Only about the psycotic dishwasher we had that chased a waitress out of the kitchen and into the dining room right during a busy Friday night dinner hour while she screamed, "Charlies got a knive!".
If you were stranded on a deserted island for one year, what dish would ask to eat after your rescue?
A sweet mango salad
If any chef in the world could prepare a meal for you, who would it be?
There so many, but Mario Battali and authentic Italian cuisine would be right there.
Is there something you hate to see when you go to a restaurant as a customer?
Poor and unattentive service
What tendencies do you see coming on strong?
Yuppie, up scale, healthy, lowfat, good food along with the food channel are here to stay
What do you think about molecular gastronomy in terms of introducing chemical elements into dish preparation?
It depends on why its being done. If its just to enhance the flavor without any real practical benefit either for health or tradition, than I would not be for it, but I don't know enough about it.
What new techniques are you interested in learning
whether mexican, mediterranian, or asian, any truly ethnic way of cooking i'm interested in. I'm also interested in the history of the food itself and why it got into a certain cultures diet to begin with.
What are some of your professional goals for the future?
To become more knowledgeble and continue school for business, computers and global economics. I will always have an eye on cooking, starting my own restaurant, also writing and learning the true benefits of healthy eating and living.
What advice would you give to someone in high school who would like to pursue a culinary career?
Learn as much as you can in as many different areas as yo can befor settling down to do what you really enjoy and have a passion for. To be well rounded and have a big picture on how things come together .
What would you say to a novice in the kitchen to help them get over their fear of cooking?
Start slowly with things you are comfortable with. Follow recipes and learn how things are put together and as you have successes you can start building on them and learn to be more creative. But start with the basics and learn the right way to do it first. The rest will com later.
suttons bay MI, U.S.