I have been cooking since I was 9 years old when my mother asked me to put the roast of beef in the oven because she was running late getting home from work. We lived in Hollywood, California in one of the stately old buildings that used to house Hollywood’s élite. We had an old stove whose top burners had to be lit with a match, luckily the oven had a pilot light, so I was good. I took the roast out of the refrigerator, and put it in the oven. Then, not knowing any better, I put the temperature knob to like 450. I didn’t know! When I started smelling it, I thought maybe I should turn it down. That roast turned out the best one we had had, and I still do that very same thing when I want to sear something I am roasting. After that, my mother decided that I was going to be a fine cook and that became my chore. I loved it!
My Mother Taught Me to Cook
Mamma was a good cook, self-taught. She collected cookbooks, and we would go through them, find something new we had never had, and make it. My mother liked gourmet food, she couldn’t see why you had to go to an expensive restaurant to get an excellent meal. My mother and I only had one disaster – it was a recipe with dried mushrooms my mother paid a lot of money for to make this pasta sauce – and it was NASTY. We tried everything to make that sauce palatable, but nothing worked. The sauce wound up in the trash. The dish that was the absolute best that came out of a cookbook was the chocolate mouse. It was incredibly rich, and I’ve made it myself a few times. I miss my mother, and her cooking. She did a good job of teaching me the skills I have now. Of course, she didn’t teach me everything. I watched a lot of Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, and he is the one who taught me how to properly hold and use a knife. He also taught me how to crack an egg and open it with one hand.
John Farion, CWC
I had a roommate who was a certified executive chef. He taught me even more things, and gave me some wonderful recipes that have become cornerstones of my cooking. He always said that I should have been a baker because I make such good cakes. Sadly, John Farion CWC, died in 2017. I miss John a great deal, and when I think of some food he would like, I go to pick up the phone – and then remember he’s in the Big Kitchen in the Sky.
John was a great admirer of Anthony Bourdain. I hope that they can meet together in the Big Kitchen in the Sky, and talk about food, and people, and cooking because you love people. Maybe they’ll have a glass of wine together, and John can share his recipe for melon balls with freshly ground black pepper – none of us liked it when he made it, maybe Bourdain will.
Which brings me to the end. This journey of cooking for the people we love I hope will never end. I love my friends and family and I love to cook for them.