by CIA Instructor Irena Chalmers
Alice Waters, the revered founder of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, was Eve Felder’s mentor. Eve Felder is managing director of The Culinary Institute of America's Singapore campus. She also taught classes at The Culinary Institute of California, Hyde Park, New York campus.
She told the students they must support the farmers in their community. Michael Ruhlman was in her class. He tells her story: “Eve had gone to an organic strawberry farm and picked strawberries. She then went to a farm that grew peas. She picked peas. From there she visited a farm that raised chickens. She returned home, and picked some lettuce and herbs from her garden, and, surprised by all this Hudson Valley bounty, invited six people for dinner. That is what food is all about,” she said.
“Food is about community. It’s about the earth and really taking care of the earth.”
Professor Felder asked the question, “What does the food want? What does it taste like in its natural form?
“Young cooks often want to add more and more ingredients to a recipe but in fact, newly dug potatoes are going to be delicious with just a little bit of sherry-shallot vinaigrette and roasted garlic. To understand food you must taste it, taste it and taste it again. Trust your taste buds to be your guide—and your conscience.”
These words are from Michael Ruhlman’s book, The Making of a Chef, in which Michael writes a diary of his journey as a student at the CIA. It is fascinating — indeed essential reading — for every chef, every cook and everyone who is thinking about embarking on a culinary career.