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Jul 2, 2012 01:54 PM

Picture of McDonald's Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut in action!

Funny how he's violating Chef Knife Skills 101 by extending his index finger over the top of the blade. And what the heck is he doing with asparagus?! This is McDonald's, after all.

Mr Taster

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  1. I believe that I have seen every episode of the old Molto Mario and Mario Batali would use that "technique" all the time.

    1. This reminded me that Jacques Pepin was exec. chef for Howard Johnson's for many years.

      4 Replies
        1. re: junescook

          1. Clams have tongues?
          2. Jacques is so easy to love. Aren'tcha glad he's our neighbor (sort of)?
          3. I wonder if he knows how to make those corn toastees--one day I'll figure it out.
          Thanks for that article!

          1. re: kattyeyes

            He is, KE. I once did have the opportunity to meet him and spend a few minutes chatting with him, and he is the same, unassumiing guy as he seems in his books and tv programs.

            1. re: junescook

              You are a lucky, lucky, lucky man! I have no trouble believing he is the same person we "know" from his books and shows as he just seems so genuine.

      1. I think "Executive Chef" means "We'll pay you serious money to use your name"

        1 Reply
        1. re: redfish62

          McDonald's Executive Chef. I think that must be the example used under "oxymoron" in

        2. Oh, I bet a lot of chefs would trade a kidney and a testicle (if they had one) for Mr. Coudreaut's job.

          I must admit though, it took me about ten minutes after seeing the picture of his misplaced finger to stop laughing long enough to post this. He must not have learned his "knife skills" from the interwebs.

          1. LOL! I worked for a big food manufactuerer and we had an impressive pedigree of 'corporate chefs'. It's basically where chefs go when they want to have a family, celebrate holidays or their knees can no longer take the long hours...

            Although our line of frozen foods and food from a box was at first blush, rather limiting, we gave our chefs pretty much free reign (within an established but hefty Kitchen budget) to play with new trendy ingredients, develop recipes for boxes, trade shows, website and basically develop new product extensisions.


            14 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              And then there's Jacques Pepin, who never ran a restaurant and worked for Howard Johnson for the best part of 20 years. And Pierre Frenay, who was executive chef at Le Pavillon when Howard Johnson hired him away. Pepin was 26 and Frenay was 40. Exceptions to the rule.

              1. re: John Francis

                Jacques Pepin wrote a memoir called "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen". It's a very enjoyable book. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of his cooking shows.

                He did in fact run and own restaurants and worked in many both in France and US. His parents were also restaurant owners. His Howard Johnson work was only a small part of his many accomplishments over the years.

                1. re: pamf

                  Yes, everything you said is right on. The book was quite good.

                  However, I am going to nitpick on Howard Johnsons being a minor accomplishment. I have seen and read almost everything Jacques ever did and on more than one occasion he has talked about how proud he was of what he did at Howard Johnsons.

                  What Howard Johnson, along with Jacques, attempted to do was something quite unique. Provide quality food, that was not "fast food", in a nice environment for a reasonable price. One of the things that Jacques had to do in order to accomplish this was study food science.

                  To this day, people will make snide remarks about his decade at Howard Johnsons (including a recent appearance on Simply Ming where Ming kinda laughed when he mention Howard Johnsons...BTW, I am also a fan of Ming Tsai, but he did sorta laugh about it), but, he was trying to do something that had not been done before.

                  Between The Complete Technique, his series and appearances with Julia, Howard Johnsons and so may of his efforts since then, he has tried to break down the refined and elegant food arts so that regular people like myself could get a better understanding and have it demystified.

                  I realize that you were absolutely not bad-mouthing him, but, I wanted to get that off my chest and I thought that this was as good a time as any.

                  1. re: DougRisk

                    It's funny, I saw that Ming Tsai show too, last week I think. I was just being brief, so I do agree with you that his Howard Johnson's work had an impact.

                    I also think he mentioned that as a husband and father, he saw it as a chance to provide a better situation for his family. Because back in those days being a restaurant cook (or chef) was not considered very prestigious and having a corporate job was more stable with better long term prospects.

                    Personally, I think his greatest gift to the world has been the career in teaching that he found later in life. Both in culinary schools and via TV and books.

                    Overall he is just a wonderful, inspirational person. Anyone who is even a bit of fan, should take time to read the book, you will enjoy it. It even has some recipes.

                    1. re: pamf

                      "I also think he mentioned that as a husband and father, he saw it as a chance to provide a better situation for his family."

                      In his book, he actually mentions some dollars and cents for some of the positions he worked.

                      When he left Le Pavillion for Howard Johnson's, everyone left. (I don't remember if Jacques or someone else was the first to leave).

                  2. re: pamf

                    I've read "The Apprentice" and don't remember that Pépin was ever the top chef at a restaurant in France or America. After his apprenticeship he was personal chef to Charles de Gaulle and two other French heads of state, then came to the U.S. Here he was a sous-chef under Henri Soulé at Le Pavillon, from which he was snatched by Howard Johnson. So I think I got it right - but by all means, show me where I'm wrong.

                      1. re: John Francis

                        He had his own restaurant in the 1970's before being in a major car accident.

                        1. re: DougRisk

                          Either that fact (his ownership of a restaurant that he ran) has been omitted from all the online sources I found (wikipedia along with several others) or it's an urban myth. Do you have a name for the restaurant or an online attribution? If true I wonder why that is totally gone from his bio?

                          1. re: Servorg

                            You know, I was working from memory and tried to find a specific source myself, and could not find the name of the place.

                            My memory was this: reading his autobiography I can distinctly remember a picture of him in the restaurant. Now, that does not answer your question, and I don't have any more free time this morning to find it.

                            However, it may still be available via Google Books (they will often have lots of pages available for free).

                            However, to my knowledge, he has spent very little of his career actually running a restaurant, and, he has said in interviews that he has had little desire to do so in his career.

                            1. re: DougRisk

                              I finally ran down one reference to it: "Pepin would go on to start his own restaurant in New York, La Petagerie (sic)" (it must have been a brief stint so that probably accounts for why it's not mentioned much)

                              ADD: found on page 2 of this piece:

                              NEXT ADD: Pepin tells the story here:

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Yeah, I just found the reference as well in the book. Actually, it was called La in, Potage (Soup). You can find a fuller explanation in starting on page 217 in The Apprentice.

                                1. re: DougRisk

                                  You call that a restaurant? I call it a soup kitchen. :-)

                                  (OK, I stand corrected.)

                                  1. re: John Francis

                                    Well, it was a Soup Kitchen.

                                    The plan was to have a number of Potageries around the NYC area. He explains it in the book.

                                    Here is my understanding of what Jacques wanted before he had that bad auto accident.

                                    He would have loved to have been a Chef de Cuisine at some fine restaurant. However, he was well aware of how Chefs got screwed over financially, especially when you consider how much skill and long days and long weeks are involved in the craft.

                                    As he became more aware of how a profitable enterprise could be run, he wanted to make sure that he could provide a better life for his family, prestige* be damned.

                                    Things like Howard Johnsons and La Potagerie provided him opportunities for these things. Had it been different back then and people (say, like Michael Chiarello) could go back and forth between industries more easily (one moment you are an executive Chef, the next you are running a catering business, the moment after that you are hosting a show, the moment after that you are owning a restaurant, etc.), he would have wanted to run his own restaurant, on his terms.

                                    This is all speculation on my part. Take it for what it is worth.


                                    * Chefs would not become "prestigious" until, at least, the late 70's. And, even then, it was no more than a handful in all of America. It would not be until the 90's that things would really take off for them.