On the Front Line

June 2019 · Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA

This term can immediately take most people to an aggressive place of a battle or conflict. It may convey hardship, struggle or a point of serious disagreement over an ideology or piece of land. So, what does this statement have to do with a monthly blog about food and beer? It is really a perception of where I am, thinking about food, where I am in my life and what really motivates me to move forward-and in some cases, retreat.

Cooking for me has always been a battle of my inner demons. I have fought for many years with myself over not being good enough, anger over the simplest things that at the time may seem important but at the end of the day are really not. If any of my readers have ever competed, especially in cold food competitions, you know the feeling if the crackers aren’t perfect. Going through the struggle and the fight for perfection and reaching for the highest levels of your career or passion can be toiling. That’s when you reflect and may have to retreat from a point of attack in your career and question the sacrifice for you and your family.

You have seen the toll this level of perfectionism can take on our industry-from divorce to substance abuse and even the selfish act of taking one’s own life. This is a reality, but it is something that can change and must change. Even the battle for equality in the kitchen is on the front line every day in our industry. I have worked in many diverse kitchens, worked for a great chef (thank you Carrie) and also reflected on not doing enough to promote equality in the workplace. In all of this, I look back and say that this issue is our own and that we are the only ones who can change it. If you look at the power of food, it is one of the greatest assets we have in breaking down walls, bringing people together and creating dialogue.

So, my front line has shifted. For many years, it was in pursuit of my own knowledge, trying to obtain recognition, which is a very personal journey especially if not recognized by others. It can be very selfish. So where am I going?

My goal is to have fun, cook with the heart and share my knowledge of food with others. The Rubberband has always been my outlet for things I find interesting. It has been an outlet for my hours of reading, tasting, exploring and cooking for family, friends and colleagues. This journal will continue to be that. However, my future campaign will be sharing more of what I have learned, from a fun 600-word or so blog, educational dinners and through supporting clients as much as I can.

My biggest hope is to create a dialogue about food, its place in the world and those who have cooked it. I just recently wrote about the fight of world class chefs trying to bring the taste of their home kitchens to the forefront of restaurant dining. Great food cooked by great women. It may have not been perfection at $350 a person, but it is honest, approachable and something worth fighting for.


Heavy Thoughts Need a Beverage to Wash it All Down

In preparation for a webinar I am preparing to take, I thought this subject would be poetic as well as tasty. It is aptly called “The Rise and Fall of English Porter 1750-1950.” So here are two classic porters to drink if you can find them. Malty, slightly acidic and low hop profile. A great pint after a long, hard day of work, changing the perception of the industry one plate at a time.
 

Meantime London Porter

In the heart of London, home of porter, they have reinvigorated the style.
Meantime London Porter

Fuller’s London Porter

This one is a little easier to find.
Fuller's London Porter

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John Reed
Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA
John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years experience. John has extensive knowledge of culinary techniques, ethnic cuisines, food history and more!

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