Food and Shelter Book

Food and Shelter

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Chef Antony J. Ballard (Author)

Food and Shelter

Book Description

Personal Chef, Antony Ballard, came up through the Brigade de Cuisine System of hierarchy found in European restaurants and hotels. The hierarchy is clearly set, with the Garcon de Cuisine, who is literally the kitchen boy or the Plongeur, the dishwasher, to the Poissonnier, who prepares the fish and seafood dishes, and the Rôtisseur who manages a team of cooks that roast or broil the dishes, to the Chef du Cuisine who is responsible for menu creation, overall management of the kitchen, supervision of the staff and purchasing the raw food items. It is this Tony alludes to when he says there are no chefs in America, for when he first came to New York there was a restaurant on every corner, which he was initially very excited about, but it turned out they were all selling burgers and fries. Ballard originates from a very humble background in a poverty-stricken industrial town 100 miles north of London, England. In 'Food and Shelter' Tony describes extreme hardship, suffering and survival against all odds. Everyone in the neighbourhood was either a tradesman or an engineer, and Tony's creative impulses were not encouraged. Losing both his parents by the time he was 16, he was faced with a house to maintain and bills to pay, and it wasn't long before he found himself sleeping in the living room of a cold, dark home with no power, afraid to go upstairs for the first three months. With his parents gone, there was no one to keep his rebellious nature in check, and faced with the emotional shock of losing both parents at such an early age, and living day by day under hopeless and desperate circumstances, he became hard, belligerent and totally resentful. He learned to drink and to steal, and it seemed his life was set on a downward spiral. He was angry, terrified, and alone, but he was becoming hard, strong and resilient, and it was this resilience that took over, with Tony sometimes surviving on little more than impulse alone. Ballard travelled to the South Coast of England in search of employment and found it in the form of kitchen work in hotels, learning the finer arts of the classically-trained chef. These times were interspersed with spells of homelessness, living on the beach, but Tony was gradually turning his life around, finding his passion in the chaotic environment of the kitchen. He travelled to California and later on to New York, where he arrived with just $10 in his pocket. He discovered the food scene in America to be a complete disaster, lacking the refinement of European cuisine, and set out to prove what he could to. He met his wife in New York, and cooked at the Grolier Club for almost ten years, although life still wasn't easy. Surviving a horrific knife attack that left him badly scarred, Tony and his wife decided it was time to leave the city and move up-state, where he opened his own gourmet shop and catering business. Tony cooked for Michael Crichton for five years, and has cooked for such names as Chevy Chase, Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, to name but a few, and the book details many anecdotes from these days, along with discussing the role of the personal chef in the homes of the rich and famous. The profession of chef is certainly a tough one, and Tony tells his story with honesty and stoicism. Written with vitality and a conspicuous absence of self-pity, 'Food and Shelter' is imbued on every page with Ballard's distinctive wry humour. He discusses what makes for a real plate, a real dish and his own favourite foods, both to cook and to eat. He feels that what is missing in American kitchens is refinement and culture.

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