I have to come out and say it up front. I am a self-proclaimed passionate foodie and perhaps what some might think is a food snob. Ok, it’s out of the bag. So, when I have the pleasure to eat great food, I don’t tend to forget it. I have what you might call, food memory. You know that feeling you get when you close your eyes and you remember the smell of the intoxicating aromas of a certain dish or when you start to salivate at the memory of the perfectly balanced bite of something divine. Yes, I think your getting the picture. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it leaves its stamp.
I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of having this experience when Chef Zach Bell of Café Boulud cooked an incredible dinner for a group of us. Talented, innovating, creative, knowing of his craft, respectful, and passionate don’t even begin to describe the man. So when I found out that Chef Zach was nominated for a James Beard award, the most prestigious award in the culinary world, I was elitated with joy. I recently had the honor to sit down with Chef Zach.
ME: What does a James Beard Award mean to you, and, when you win, what are you most grateful for?
ZB: It’s a great honor to be recognized for the work we’ve done here. I’m most grateful for the energy, confidence, motivation and love from my wife, Jennifer.
ME: What does it take to be a great chef?
ZB: As referenced from Sun Tzu’z The Art of War - "Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage and sternness."
ME: What is your kitchen mantra?
ZB: An excerpt from my Laws of the Kitchen :
"You must love to do this for a living-no question. You must love to stay late or come early if it is necessary to get the job done. You must love to practice only the best, most perfect techniques in order to produce a product you are proud of. Your end product is a direct reflection of how much love and respect you have for yourself and your work."
ME: How do you describe your cuisine?
ZB: I merely try my best to execute Cuisine du Marche to the best of my ability– (French – American Cuisine that is Market Driven.)
ME: Your favorites tools?
ZB: Victorinox 3” serrated paring knives and 10” serrated utility knife – before you get to make the pretty things – you have to bust ass on the rough prep – these guys are monsters.
ME: Secret ingredient?
ZB: Plum seed oil
ME: If you were an ingredient, what would you be?
ZB: Good French Dijon mustard – smooth and spicy all at once
ME: Who are your kitchen heroes?
ZB: Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Paul Bocuse
ME: And chefs you would like to cook with?
ZB: Anne Sophie Pic, Jean Francois Piege, Guy Martin…the list is endless as there is something great to be learned from everyone.
ME: What do you see as the upcoming culinary trends?
ZB: A serious return to bistro and country cooking, this time it is not a fad or trend – the game now is who can cook the best and keep it the most affordable at the same time!
ME: What inspires you ?
ZB: Vegetables and the their constantly changing seasons…
ME: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
ZB: Doing my thing here in Palm Beach….I love it here.
ME: If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?
ZB: Never even really had a chance to think about it… cooking didn’t ask when it chose me
ME: What do you think about the south Florida culinary scene?
ZB: I think it has been on a strong roll the last couple years as the general public is demanding higher quality artisanal products.This new thinking is one of the major benefits this industry has received from the Food Network and like programming.
ME: What do you eat when at home?
ZB: Very simple things grilled pork chops, roasted broccoli, simple pastas…
My sincere thanks and best wishes to Chef Zach …. Rock it at the Beard awards!
And the heat goes on..... Maude a.k.a THE DIVA