Anyone else remember Michael Bay’s 1998 movie Armageddon starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson and several other stars? The scene I am thinking of is when Oscar Choi, played by Owen Wilson, is getting strapped into the space shuttle and is describing how he feels.
I applied for a spot on season two of Guy’s Grocery Games, the insanely cool cooking game show on the Food Network and happily got a call back. If there are any folks who have never seen it it is pretty much Chopped mixed with a touch of insanity. I almost crapped on myself when they did the Aisle Four game. I think it was aisle four. Whatever aisle number doesn’t matter. What does is that you had to race to the candy aisle and cook a meal out of it. Or the frigging bag switch? Only a madman with a twisted sense of humor does that to another human being. Owen Wilson correctly describes exactly how I feel on the very hopeful verge of getting onto that show. “I got that excited scared feeling. 98% excited and 2% scared, or maybe it’s the other way around.”
I am going to represent the crazy anonymous folks that choose the restaurant business to carve out a living. I suppose it was cooking or end up in some random padded cell to bounce off of in my straitjacket deep into my twilight years. If I had to describe to my three year old son Beaumont what I do for a living it would simply be: “Daddy wears pajamas with a tall paper hat (lovingly refereed to as a Culinary Condom by Garrett Blackstock in the wildly popular BBC program ‘Chef’) experiencing moments of perfect calm punctuated by periods of unspeakable madness. I race to get food cooked for 40 to 280 people depending on how many people walk in unannounced, barking out orders for an hour and half interlaced with obscenities and adolescent random comments about penises that would make Red Foxx blush, and perhaps legally classify me as having Tourette’s syndrome. Sorry son, Daddy is a madman.”
Sorry to burst the bubble of those of you who think of Chefs as a serious bunch of artists and craftsmen wearing clinically white pristine Chef coats quietly contemplating each and every combination that goes on your plate. When I did my stage for one of the world’s greatest Chefs to grace the planet, Chef Joel Robuchon, I thought to myself now if there ever will be a serious kitchen this has got to be it. By the end of the first service I saw all the same shenanigans I have attributed to the lowly kitchens I have crewed (or maybe crude). Oh we are a crazy bunch of culinary clowns, but damn I love it and wouldn’t do anything else!
I sent the casting agency my information followed by a short clip I filmed after a cocktail. I suppose I should add part of my bio as a form of introduction to the 19 second clip that follows. It also may explain my character a bit better and perhaps why my sister is still in therapy 51 years later. “Chef François grew up in a very French household in Chicago. His earliest attempts at cookery began with the filleting of his sister’s goldfish at age two and a braised rabbit dish made with his pet rabbits at age seven. He eventually stopped cooking his pets and went to the highly esteemed New England Culinary Institute where he graduated top of his class in 1985.” Do you think there is another profession anywhere in the world where you can write that you ate your pets and somehow it is perceived as a benefit? I guess I was way ahead of the tail to snout foodie movement. GEEZ LOUISE! Or as my French family might gasp “Mon Dieu.”