I was surprised to find myself intimidated by the New York chef in my kitchen. If he had been cooking alone, I would simply have left him to get the job done. As it was, the menu was mine, and I had to cook beside him. Granted, I had more experience than he did, but he had standards and techniques above mine.
The chef was none other than grandson Nathaniel (17). Why, you want to know, was he wearing his full uniform? It’s because that’s what he was wearing when he came home from school Friday afternoon. He has academics in the morning and attends classes for culinary arts in the afternoon. He had half an hour to pack after coming home on the bus, and John picked him up for the long drive to North Carolina. Driving through the night, they arrived here at 11:30 Saturday morning. As soon as they came in the house, I admired the checkered pants and white jacket. Nathaniel put on the apron, still sporting a bit of tomato soup on the front. For the full effect, he donned the hat, as well.
We sat down to visit until time to cook our main meal, and he offered to help. I was thrilled to accept such assistance, but the balance had changed in a subtle way. I was aware that he wouldn’t cook with dull knives or Teflon pans. He is learning to present dishes with flair for eye appeal, and he is a purist at heart. He chopped the onion, celery, and green pepper for the fried rice while I cooked the broccoli and salmon. I set the table and got out serving dishes as he finished cooking the rice and the Hollandaise sauce. We had no garnishes on the plates, but we enjoyed our meal with conversation and laughter. What more could you want?