On Oct. 19 one of the most prestigious moments of my culinary career took place when–with the smack of a spatula–I was inducted into the Disciples of Escoffier. At a magnificent gala at the InterContinental The Clement on Cannery Row in Monterey (which I actually also co-emceed along with Disciple and Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Mary Chamberlin), nine of us were brought into this premier international gastronomic society, established in France, which honors the memory of Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine. The society’s mission is to promote and preserve his work, and promote culinary education and apprenticeships encouraging young people to discover the desire and motivation to work as professional chefs.
Proceeds from the gala, hosted by The American Institute of Wine & Food and Les Dames d’Escoffier Monterey chapter are slated to provide a full culinary scholarship to a Northern California student to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. My friend Michel Escoffier, Auguste Escoffier’s great-grandson, oversaw the induction.
And, in fact, I received my Red Disciples of Escoffier chef sash from him, as Mary looked on.
So, what kind of company was I in? The other inductees included:
- Executive chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se
- Chief Pierre Bain of Fandangos
- Executive Chef Nathan Beriau of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
- Wine Producer and Owner Bill Stahl of River Ranch Vineyards
- Chef Tene Shake, President of the American Culinary Federation
- Executive Chef Robert Mancuso of the Bohemian Club
- Chef John Pisto, Restaurateur and host of “Monterey’s Cookin’ Pisto Style”
- Executive Chef Ben Diaz of Rosa Mexicano
Additionally, Chef Cal Stamenov of Bernardus Lodge & Spa, and a Disciple of Escoffier, was honored. And, Mary presented a donation to chef Paul Lee from the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, a Salinas nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, teaching them the skills to work in our local culinary and hospitality industry. Dennis and I donated a full live seminar experience, a year’s personal mentoring, and a full year membership in APPCA to a graduate of the Drummond Culinary Academy.
As wonderful as the event was–and it was special–my take aways from being inducted into such a high-profile and exclusive culinary society are two-fold. Personally, it was a humbling, enlivening, and deeply meaningful experience. Only the cream of the culinary industry is ever considered or invited to participate in this society that protects and practices the legacy, philosophy, and culinary skill of Auguste Escoffier. I simply didn’t see it coming, especially since traditionally they haven’t inducted women. So, it was enlivening from the standpoint that I am one of the few women–and the only one in this group–inducted into the society to date. And, of course, it was meaningful as a public recognition of a lifelong career that has focused on establishing a different kind of career for chefs.
That, in turn, makes this an honor that reflects on the worthiness of our organization and the success of our members. It’s a clear validation of the personal chef career path. It’s validation that the level of skill and commitment to professionalism held by personal and private chefs is as real as it is for executive chefs in the commercial kitchens of the finest restaurants and hotels and private clubs throughout the world. The Disciples of Escoffier recognize this–and recognize the value of our organization as a means of building, promoting, and protecting this career path. In being honored with this induction into this great society, APPCA and its members have also been honored.
Now I can’t duplicate the breathtaking champagne toast by saber from that evening, but I raise a virtual glass to all of you, our APPCA members, who have also dedicated your lives to a career that seeks to bring joy, health, and well-being to clients through the food we create for them. Whenever you have a moment when life is just too crazy or you’re feeling frustrated–and we all have them–you can fend off that negativity by telling yourself that you are doing good work and that your path has been acknowledged by the best in your industry as being special and worthy of the highest honor.
Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.