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What Chef/Critic Would You Love to Cook For? And Whom Would You Rather Not?

This is not meant to create a love/hate discussion about any particular chef (celebrity or otherwise). I'm just curious: given the opportunity to choose one chef or critic to prepare food for, who would it be? And who would you be scared of or intimidated by?
For myself? I'd REALLY love to have had the chance to cook for M.F.K. Fisher. I think she was a grand lady, and I loved her food sensibilities - a lot of my own were informed by her writings and philosophies. I would keep it soooo simple...the very freshest vegetables in their perfectly-cooked state; some amazing fish or fowl with herbs; fresh breads; tarts. I think she'd love it and I know I'd love the opportunity to feed her. Conversely though, one person I would rather carve my eyes out than cook for is Morimoto, re: the complete knee-buckling intimidation factor. I'm sure he's the nicest fella ever, but dammit, that's one place I know positively I could never measure up, and I DON'T have a self-confidence problem. :) And the chef I'd pull a complete dorkus on would be Hubert Keller, for reasons which are well known here. If my Hubert was the platin' kinda chef, I'd be having plates hurled at me with amazing regularity due to my inability to do anything but stare at him and fantasize about a chateau in the South of France.

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  1. Can I alter the rules slightly? How about "chefs I'd like to cook with?" I think I'd be paralyzed by the idea of "cooking for" any food professional. That said, I'd enjoy cooking with David Tanis (he might be an asshole but I love his approach to food), Jamie Oliver (a food sprint!), or Lydia Bastianich (she reminds me of my mom). Would not want to cook for or with Ramsey, Sandra Lee, or Paula Deen. NMS.

    9 Replies
    1. re: tcamp

      Sure, that's a good and very small twist, I think. I'm curious about David Tanis. I LOVE his food and have eaten it many times. My question comes in, though: why not Alice Waters, since she's basically his mentor re: POV? I'm genuinely curious; not argumentative.

      Funny: I had the same reaction about Paula Deen, and it isn't because I don't find her charming. I even eat some things she'd probably make, though I don't really watch her shows much. I just...I wouldn't have an interest, I guess. I like the Lidia choice. But her son's one I'd really really rather drink a gasoline cocktail than have him critique my food.

      1. re: mamachef

        I know Alice can cook but I see her more as the marketeer, the consumate front of the house type. She might be more fun to eat with, or shop with, but I perceive (based on nothing but reading his books) that Tanis likes to roll up his sleeves and get busy cooking, rather than rhapsodizing about the fresh and local fare.

      2. re: tcamp

        Wow - this is almost exactly my response, including the "chefs I'd like to cook with" comment. Jamie Oliver would be fun to cook with and not intimidating. Nigella would be great, as well. We could sneak to the fridge later to finish up the leftovers!

        Would love to watch scientific minds at work such as Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz. Highly admire Hubert Keller, Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller's skills so would enjoy cooking with them as well. David Rocco (Canadian) would be fun, too.

        Would never cook with or for Ramsay, Sandra Lee, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray or Giada de Laurentis.

        1. re: chefathome

          I forgot Nigella! Totally the one I'd want to do a "girls night in" with!

          1. re: chefathome

            my cook *withs* in the US are definitely Blumenthal and Achatz.

            still thinking about my cook *with* pastry/cake list... for sugar work, ewald notter for sure.

            i don't think there's anyone i would want to cook *for...*

            1. re: Emme

              I admire Achatz' brilliance and innovation. Interesting that this brought you to pastry; I never even thought of that - but I guess mine would be Pinchet Ong for newer creations, Lindsay Shere for classic/rustic. And Mary Canales for Ice cream and gelatos.

          1. re: AnneMarieDear

            I, too, would love to cook for Jacques Pepin. I like the way he cooks, and I think he might approve of the way I cook. Cripes, we always joke here that Mr. Pepin would be my ultimate favorite uncle. I affect his charming verbal mannerisms in my head when I talk to myself while cooking. Oddly, he would not intimidate me at all, either. What a nice testament, really, to how he presents to his audience.

            Everyone else would scare the cr@p out of me, honestly. My own family scares me sometimes. <grin>

            1. re: cayjohan

              I love the warmth he projects, and that familial feeling. More than that, I love that you affect his mannerisms in your head. I've been known to channel Julia's trills in my mind during a kitchen shift or two, myself. "Oooooh, we're making love-ly riiiich chiiiiiicken stock! hoohoohoo!"

          2. can i change for to with? 'cause I would love to cook with eric ripert but would never want to cook with - or for, for that matter - gordon ramsey.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ahuva

              Yes, acceptable substitution!! Hey, Ripert's a doll. I can think of a few things I'd like to play at with him, and one would involve cooking too. :)

              1. re: ahuva

                Ahuva, is that because of his shticky shrieking, or something else? His food style? Just wondering.

              2. Paula Dean and Anthony Bourdain. When the inevitable fight broke out, I'd sit back and watch with Christopher Kimball.

                1. Mamachef,
                  What a great idea for a post, and your initial descriptions are wonderful. This thread will certainly go long because the concept is truly rich for possibilities. I don't really cook much, so have never thought who I'd like to inflict my food upon.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Tripeler, thanks!! I was watching something.....have no idea what, but this idea came to mind and it seemed so fun to pursue. As far as you "inflicting" your cooking? I'd happily eat your food, and then do dishes.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      wanker, it's a boxing match I'd love to watch too. Would they serve beer and popcorn, though?