Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Staff Reminisces from Deborah Reid

In the late ‘80’s I began to supplement my income as an apprentice cook at Le Bistingo, with part-time work at the Cookbook Store.  I chuckle now at that idea because what income I did garner mainly went back into the store coffers toward book purchases. Beyond expanding my own culinary library, I loved the work for the bright minds of both Alison and Jennifer (Canadian culinary treasures) and the joy of connecting a fellow food lover with a great book or recipe. I also met many celebrated chefs.

     One of the most memorable meetings was in September 1989 (I have an inscribed cookbook pinpointing the date) when I shook hands with one of my culinary heroes.

      It was a quiet and unremarkable day. I was cleaning and sorting shelves when I heard the store door open and Alison enthusiastically greet a visitor. When I looked up I saw Jacques Pépin, a man I professionally adored. At that time, he was the formidable force behind two books that shaped my French training - La Methode and La Technique.  I was introduced to his work by the first chef I apprenticed with who gifted me a copy of La Technique.  Those books stripped the mystery from complex French recipes, through visual decoding, and marked Jacques Pépin as an innovator.  He was also young, handsome, and very French.

      In retrospect I’m happy he arrived with no advance notice. Still I was star struck and could hardly garble out anything of real intelligence other than my complete respect and admiration for his work. He signed books including one personalized for me.

     I’ve met him subsequently, again at a book launch for his charming memoir, The Apprentice.  Like his most famous professional partner, Julia Child, he remains practical, under-stated, and enthusiastically committed to sharing his knowledge and love for good food and cooking.  Above all Jacques Pépin remains a great teacher and an influence of importance in my own professional development.

Deborah Reid  
Cookbook Store employee  from 1988 -1990 when she went off to complete formal professional training at the Stratford Chefs School. 

Today she is a professional chef living a delicious life and has spent 25 years working within striking distance of a gas range.  Her enthusiasm is as large as her appetite.  Deoborah currently works as a chef, writer and culinary consultant -

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