I have a confession to make: I own several seasons of Top Chef on DVD. I’ve spent hours on Hulu watching Kitchen Nightmares, and my DVR is set to record new episodes of MasterChef, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, The Next Food Network Star and Kitchen Impossible. When there is mindless housework to be done or bills to be paid, the Food Network or the Travel Channel are most likely on in the background, often causing me to stop to see if man can beat food, if Paula Deen will add more butter or if Anthony Bourdain will become more snarky. And because I don’t get Bravo, I often find myself checking Netflix to see when it’ll finally—if ever—offer any season of Top Chef (I’ve been forced to buy them). I also personally subscribe to Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator, and I’ll pay news-rack prices for Saveur on occasion.
Media is my enabler in an addiction of delicious proportions. Unlike our food editor, Lacy Boggs, who has made me gifts of jams, jellies, pestos and baked goods, I am not necessarily drawn to the foodie culture to make myself a better, more skilled domestic goddess. I’ve never pickled my own onion or cucumber; though, I have thought about it with much aplomb. I don’t grow my own veggies, and I’m a slave to the recipe. It’s less about applying the techniques or concepts in my own kitchen—though, I’m often inspired enough to mentally plan a trip to Chicago or Spain—and more about the thrill of the countdown, the fantasy of flavor and indulgence, and the connection to the saints of the stovetop.
The celebritization of the chef is an outcome of our society’s love of both celebrities and food. Chefs surely have the egos to handle it, and the entertainment potential of competitive cooking, baking and eating is endless.
And truly, isn’t food porn so much better than actual porn?
Two years ago, I saw John Besh in an Austin, Texas, restaurant, calmly eating brunch like a totally normal person. I went giddy like a schoolgirl, and I literally said out loud, “Oh my God, it’s John Besh.” Of course, no one in my party knew who the hell I was talking about. I assured them: the handsome man sitting 15 feet from us was, in fact, a celebrity chef. A few months later, I saw Hosea Rosenberg eating dinner at Salt. As I walked by him, I frantically thought, “Play it cool, Andra. Just play it cool,” and then I spent the evening detailing the
escapades of Top Chef’s fifth season to my boyfriend of just one month, who surprisingly didn’t break up with me on the spot.
So, it was only a matter of time before we brought celebrity chefs to YS. Every year, we’ve focused two or three issues on food, but I realized that while I love seeing our pages full of food images and recipes, I want to know more about the people behind the food. So, here’s the plan: Every year, we’ll pick a theme for our Chef Issue and we will highlight local chefs who exemplify that theme. In this edition, we’ve selected six chefs throughout Boulder County who take advantage of local farms, farmers markets and artisanal food products while creating their menus and dishes; the issue also highlights the local farms that chefs frequent.
In some ways, I hope the issue helps to humanize chefs a little more, making them, their food and cooking in general more accessible to our readers. Then again, I like the idea of continuing and localizing chefdom. A celebration of the chef is a celebration of the potential power and impact of food. As Anthony Bourdain said, “Life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”