Dish of the Day: Passion and talent can conquer the world
Now, it’s worth noting that Jacek has never really been formally trained as a baker, and, no, he didn’t grow up in his mum and dad’s bakery, either. He just loves bread, and does it at home, and some times at work, constantly refining his natural skill.
He will hate me for writing this, but his chef’s mind is unusual – he has such a natural ability, and curiosity, that whatever he touches ends up looking, smelling and most importantly tasting amazing.
It’s very hard, if not impossible, to teach that. I feel lucky to work with him and I just hope that aura, that indefinable talent, passes on somehow to your younger chefs. When someone is good at something because they both love it and have a natural gift, they can conquer the world.
That natural ability, combined with an unwavering love of being in a kitchen, is the very reason why River Café is the best Italian restaurant around – and in some ways, the best restaurant that this country has seen. The feeling of warmth as soon as you walk in, the menu that was written and prepared only hours before, cooked purely with love, is such a wonderful thing to experience.
This doesn’t just apply to food. It’s why Alex Ferguson was such a great manager for such a long period of time, much to the annoyance of anyone who doesn’t happen to support Man United. It’s why the Ship in Wandsworth and the Drapers Arms in Islington feel like ‘proper pubs’; they have great men at the helm who understand perfectly well what people want. It’s why The Rib Man’s hot sauce is so bloody good. It’s why Paul Bocuse, aged 87 and has 3 Michelin stars, still circulates around his dining room at lunch and dinner.
I’m very lucky to have some brilliantly talented people around me. And who knows, one day, there might be a little Polish bakery with a heavy metal-loving chef, tattooed up and down with a long goatee, serving you the best brioche you ever tasted…Paul Bocuse
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