Kitchen Stories: Magic in the Kitchen

Alchemy: Magic in the Kitchen - Chef Works

Author: Chef Perry  

alchemy (al·che·my)


the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir.

I was seven years old when I tasted Boeuf bourguignon for the first time.

Standing on a lobster crate at the six-burner in one of the many kitchens in which my father sweated, and cursed, and found his place with the other misfits and miscreants.

I had some trepidation, I recall, as the steaming spoon was brought to my lips. I had tasted from the big pot hours before, and found the winey bitterness of the raw dish not at all to my liking, which had garnered my father's approval (not the easiest thing) and a lesson (there was ALWAYS a lesson), so I was unsure what my reaction was supposed to be this time.

In that moment, as the spoon touched my lips and with a shiver of pure pleasure, I tasted that uniquely perfect French peasant's stew, I had an awakening.

I loved the kitchen, having played among the pots and spoons and rushing feet since before I could remember. I loved the heat, the chaos, the naughty words that I was never to repeat at home, all of it.

But it was that moment, etched so deeply in my brain that even now, forty years later, I can remember the smell of the raw onions in the kitchen, the hot grey steam from the dishwashing station, my father's pleasantly familiar aroma of Old Spice and Camel cigarettes, and...especially, the moment I tasted that broth and realised what it was, exactly, that my father, and his scruffy crew of morally-questionables really did.

They made magic.

At seven, I didn't know the word "alchemy", that mythical process of turning lead into gold, but for the first time I realised that such a thing was possible.

That is what I experienced in that moment...alchemy. A dented old pot of cheap, unpleasant tasting ingredients combined in a proper way, for a proper amount of time, touched by fire and transformed by a wave of my father's hand into something...magical.

For the rest of my life, my time in the kitchen has been a ripple, ever widening and leading outward from that first taste from my father's spoon, pushed forward by a single desire.

I wanted to make magic.

At Chef Works, we are driven by those who are inspired by all things culinary. Fueled by the belief that every culinary professional deserves the right apparel and tools to enhance the work they do. We understand that the recipe for excellence goes far beyond simple ingredients.

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Comments (2)

Great story

10 July 2019
That is what it is, a great story of a great memory. Never said the middle of service, I remember having my head chefs son rolling pitas and tasting all the sweets and cookies next to me as I was a young apprentice. Working long hours and working with amazing people, it's all about family, the whole way through.


3 July 2019
I'm sure a busy kitchen had a kid standing on a lobster crate at a six burner in the middle of service!! .. my lad comes to work.. would love him to do that.. but.. words from an adult... painting a picture of something that will never happen...I've had all my kids in my kitchens.... chopping .. service.. no chance but to think they have the passion at that age... or understanding..

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