The Daily Meal's video producer, Ali Rosen, sat down with esteemed chef and restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten to talk about how he got started in the culinary world and the different path he took toward his family business.
Vongerichten was born in Alsace, France, into a family that owned a coal business, but instead of following in his father's footsteps he chose to embrace the side of the business run by his mother and grandmother. The property was on a farm and they lived next to a canal where the coal would come in on barges from mines in northern France; his family would distribute the coal to the city.
Vongerichten's mother and grandmother would cook meals for everyone, which piqued his interest, especially because his room was right above the kitchen. He could smell the fumes from the kitchen in the morning and know exactly what was cooking.
His mother and grandmother would cook for 30 to 40 people for lunch each day. The food was very simple and served family-style; "There was a lot of cabbage, potatoes, and pork, and of course everything was organic — carrots and radishes from the garden, milk from the cow." This was when Vongerichten learned to cook with the seasons. He started cooking as a professional after leaving home in 1973.
Stay tuned for more from Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the upcoming installments of At the Chef's Table.