|Fernand and Maire Louise Point and the brigade of La Pyramide|
A few weeks ago I attended an event at The Astor Center in NYC where Ferran Adria, the guest speaker, was introduced as "The Most Influential Chef" of the 20th Century. While there is no arguing that Chef Adria has been tremendously influential, a chance encounter with the words "La Pyramide" during a search for something else, reminded me that if there is one chef who deserves to be called "The Most Influential Chef of the 20th Century" there are many more.
Auguste Escoffier was a giant: Alice Waters is a giantess. No one did a better job of inspiring Americans to take up French cooking than Julia Child while Paul Bocuse made it very clear that the epitome of the chef de cuisine was a highly polished professional who is as passionately devoted to commerce as he is to craft. And looking ahead, I think that when the votes are cast for most influential chef of the 21st Century, anyone who has ever heard or read his explanation of how he constructs his cuisine will have to agree that one of the clear winners is going to be Grant Achatz. The man is a brilliant culinary theoretician.
But out of the gaggle of the most influential chefs of any century, my personal favorite is the chef who was the mentor of many of the great chefs who emerged from the devastation of WWII into a newly globalized culture and who brought to us that radical elision of Haute Western & Asian cooking and dining modality, La Nouvelle Cuisine. It was Fernand Point who inspired Paul Bocuse, Alan Chapel and countless others to put quality of ingredients and technique above all other culinary considerations especially, and most significantly, the classical culinary coda the specified what went with what, and in what order, and what they should each be named. There is so much hyperbole about chefs in the media these days that it's pretty difficult to take any praise of anyone seriously. But ask any of the current great chefs what they think of Fernand Point and you will hear of a dieu de la cuisine.
Not bad hyperbole for a Saturday morning, eh? BdG