Who is the best cook you know?
And how did they attain this? You can say yourself, I for one, after almost 20 years of cooking can at least make myself happy.
But perhaps we also need to define what makes someone the "best cook."
My paternal grandmother definitively does not screw anything up. Each new experiment is a success and her bland, yet vibrant-healthy cooking style is extremely nourishing and yummy.
My mom experiments and gets distracted but she's the only person I know well that can make maki and 5 spiced pork.
I know what I like...so it's hard to screw that one up.
My friend Jonathan Scott, it doesn't hurt that he went to culinary school and worked in restaurants, he now is a personal chef and caters dinner parties. Not only does he have the training, but he loves food and really understands why things work the way they do. Doesn't hurt that he is a perfectionist, so if the first pass doesn't work, he tweaks it until it does. I thought I could cook until I met him! He also rarely skimps, I now have a freezer full of home made stocks, something I am too lazy to do! I had forgotten that the little details make such a big difference.
A friend, Mark. He's had some culinary training and goes so far beyond me in the details in his cooking. While I haven't had many of his meals, he is usually in charge at a friend's New Year's Eve party, and the meals he makes are absolutely phenomenal and well thought out. I'm honored to attempt to be his sous chef when he's on a tear. He made a Veal Osso Buco earlier this year for a group of friends, and made the veal stock from scratch...definitely something I would never have done. I would have just gotten the veal demi-glace containers and used that. :-)
Other than me, my brother, John. He went to culinary school and worked in restaurants. Mostly, however, we learned how to cook out of desperation--our mother just didn't cook so it was either deli sandwiches or figure out how those recipes worked....
Mom. She can whip up just about anything from scratch, with no recipe in sight. It doesn't matter if she's making an eight-course (or more) Chinese dinners with everything prepared perfectly and everything (seemingly) ready at the proper serving time or a traditional American thanksgiving, or authentic Mexican/Tex-Mex (a product of growing up in Phoenix, AZ), she can do it all.
She can't, however, grill or BBQ...she has a tendency to burn everything outside.
My brother Bill. He loves it, isn't afraid to try new things or tweak his standard offerings and always goes out of the way to make something special for someone, like his baby sister.
My Aunt June, who passed away in 1991, was the first great cook I knew and as a child I was amazed at her offerings and how she could take something simple and make it wonderful. She was one of those great ladies who always had something on the stove or in the frig and also a baked goodie or two or three on the counter at any given time.