What a long, strange meal it’s been.
Three years ago, when the editors of the Octagon offered me this job, my first thought was, “Who cares?”
This was just my weird little hobby.
Who would want to hear what I thought about food, and what experience made me an authority on it in the first place?
And “Chef Jeff”—the name they proposed—was enough to make me shudder until the marginally less embarrassing “Cooking in the Cave” was suggested.
But despite a healthy dose of coercion and a lot of rewriting, I wrote a column, my first column, on the most obvious food topic I could think of: the farmers market.
Since then you have read my ramblings on everything from Turkish kebabs to organ meats. Now a change is in store.
Junior Connor Martin—my successor who tried to seize my column while I was still here more times than I can count—will be the one writing it next year.
Gone will be my casual disregard for the basic principles of fine dining. I like to think that you’re moving towards an era of greater sophistication.
Connor cares about service and ambiance and how his food is presented.
I, on the other hand, once ate a roasted guinea pig off a metal pipe in a concrete shack that doubled as a taxi dispatch.
Okay, so maybe it was a bad decision. It was certainly one my more-dignified friend would scorn—my more-dignified friend who name-drops famous chefs more than anyone I’ve ever met.
Don’t get me wrong—I like Connor.
His passion for food rivals my own, and he is at worst a lovable snob.
And he genuinely cares about this column. (He once jokingly hinted that he might poison me to take it over early.)
Yes, he mentions Thomas Keller as many as four times a day. But perhaps we need a snob.
Snobs are underrated. People like Connor expect the best from every restaurant and chef.
And because they do, they bring out that best.
He admires the celebrity chefs who can actually cook and ignores the rest.
In the end, I’m glad I won one minor battle as I was dragged—kicking and screaming, I will admit—to write that first column.
I’m glad it’s “Cooking in the Cave,” if only because it means that I can pass it on to the only person I’ve met who loves food as much as I do.