Saturday, January 26, 2013


Back when I was a chef, we did a party for what is called the Pritzger Prize. The Pritzger is an architectural prize and it was being awarded to I.M. Pei, who designed the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth. It was being held at the Kimball, and there were to be 1000 guests.
I had watched the Pastry Chef work for 3 days on his dessert.  He had made 1000 treasure chests from chocolate, each to be filled with mousse. He had been sitting at a table the last 8 hours hand painting gold filigree on each one.
You may be wondering if gold is edible. It is. It is even said to have medicinal value.
Today you can go and buy a bottle of Goldschlager, a liqueur with flecks of gold floating in it. 

But back to the Pastry Chef, dipping  his tiny brush into the vial of gold filigree, hand painting 1000 small boxes made of chocolate. His name was David, and up until a few years prior he had been a carpenter by trade. Maybe he got tired of sawdust, of the cold, I don't know, but somehow he had wound in his true calling, evidenced by his quick rise to the top of his field. To look at David in his white uniform topped by a chefs toque you just wouldn't figure. He looked like a big Hobbit, his beard covered his entire face to where there were just eyes and a nose visible, and a slot that opened occasionally should he decide to speak. David did not wear shoes. He wore sandals. He was like a cross between Tommy Chong and Rasputin.
And he is patiently practicing a form of Zen, hand painting his chocolate creations.  

A corporate VP wandered by, stopped to examine the work, and said “This is beautiful! So exquisite, so elegant, so simple really.”.
And David looked up at him over the tops of his glasses and said, very dryly:
 “Yes, well, that's all fine and good but we are spending a lot of time on simplicity”.

No shit!

Part of my story doesn't check out. Pei won the award in 1983, but it wasn't he who designed the Kimball. That was Khan, but he never won the award. The dinner was 1987. I don’t have the particulars right, but the story still stands.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Wow, very true.