When I started cooking three decades ago, Michel Gérard was the chef who inspired me to go into the kitchen. Gérard is
considered to be the father of Nouvelle Cuisine style of cooking. Dr. Georges Halpern, Vice-President of the French Gastronomical Medical Society once said, “Gerard has a genius for satisfying the
upper part of the body, the tongue, eyes and mind, without filling up the bottom part, the stomach.” The above ten commands were written by two French food critics during the 1970s – Henri Gault and
Christian Millau. I keep these commandments foremost in my mind as I develop and present menus.
Thou shalt not
Thou shalt use fresh,
Thou shalt not be
Thou shalt nonetheless
seek out what the new techniques can bring you
Thou shalt avoid
marinades, the hanging of game, fermentations, etc.
Thou shalt eliminate
brown and white sauces
Thou shalt not ignore
Thou shalt not cheat on
Remembering Elizabeth Taylor – As Her Private Chef during the Nineties…
Elizabeth Taylor’s passion for life spilled over into the area of food - especially her version of “comfort food.” Great food was one
of her great passions. But - in 1997, she had a goal of losing as much weight as possible, prior to her upcoming “Black Pearls” perfume promotional tour. As a Pritikin-based Chef, I was
called upon to help her accomplish this challenging goal. It wasn’t going to be easy, because 1) She did not like the word “diet”; and 2) She was going through a very difficult period in her
life. Her then husband, Larry, had just left her. And she was all alone, feeling sad. She had been spending most of her time in her suite, watching movies. She had no motivation to
exercise, which made the prospect of rapid weight loss all-the-more daunting.
Every morning, I would consult with Ms. Taylor to discuss her menu choices for the day, and to get a sense of how she was feeling. In
the late morning, with all the finest provisions I could get my hands on, I would prepare, “a la minute,” (on-the-spot) the dishes that Ms. Taylor had requested. This turned out to be a key
motivating factor in helping her stay on the diet. She was able to find satisfaction from healthier food choices, because they were HER choices. There was, however, one choice that proved
I remember the day that Liz Taylor asked for fried chicken. Fried chicken, for someone who is trying to lose
as much weight as possible in two weeks? I wondered…perhaps she was immersed in her memory of happier times, and was craving a comfort food. I decided to try and come up with a fried
chicken recipe that was as low in fat as possible, yet would satisfy that craving for comfort-food.
I called up to Ms. Taylor’s suite when the fried chicken fingers were ready to serve. Upon asking her how many chicken fingers she
would like, she quipped, “Anything is ok, as long as it is not ONE finger.” I loved her sense of humor, and was particularly impressed at her ability to display it at this difficult time in her
life. After the meal, she called me on the house phone. I felt a wave of relief – and was at the same time ecstatic – when Elizabeth Taylor exclaimed that my fried chicken was
The promotional tour was soon to begin. Was she able to lose that weight? Another wave of relief – and ecstasy – came my
way when Ms. Taylor again called me – this time to inform me that she had lost fifteen pounds. She was shocked and thrilled, as it was more weight loss than she anticipated!