Once in a while you come across a chef whose culinary acumen exceeds your wildest anticipation, whose sense of style outshines your most lurid food fantasies. Their accomplishments are legendary, their followers legion, and their place in the pantheon of food history vouchsafed by critics and public alike. Then there are those chefs who toil in obscurity, seeking not fortune or fame, but the more ephemeral limelight of the home cooked meal. But when they are good, they are very good. These are the chefs whose unstoppable energy, unflappable enthusiasm, and indefatigable zeal can recast for diners the very tapestry of cooking itself. They make cooking more personal, dining more passionate, and reveling in the flavor of food more intimately bound up in life’s vital force. These are the chefs that provide you with the olive oil and lemon simplicity of fresh fruit de mer pasta that you absently lick from your lips as you gaze into the glittering harbor from a Mediterranean piazza, or the tartiflette you wolf down in the fluorescent-lit kitchen of a motorcyclist you’ve picked up with somewhere on a long road trip through the heart of your incorrigible youth. I know one such chef, a creature of cunning and instinct, a booming and uncontrollable beast whose unprovoked antics make Chef Gordon Ramsay seem like a snoozing churchmouse by comparison. But we tolerate him out of adoration for his genius in the kitchen.
Here is a chronology of the chef at work, making the eternal masterpiece that is a fried egg sandwich.