May 21st, 2013 15:33 EST
Judyth Piazza interviews Jim Bailey, The Yankee Chef
Chef Jim Bailey IS The Yankee Chef.
Honoring his grandfather and father as the third Yankee Chef, Jim is considered the foremost New England Food Historian as well as a respected food columnist of note, with his first cookbook released in early March, 2013.
Simply entitled The Yankee Chef, this cookbook embraces the beginnings of comfort food, with international flair accompanying many of the contemporary "takes` on old New England classics. Although Chef Jim`s grandfather and father are gone, This third generation Yankee Chef continues the tradition of deliciously easy recipes that are ideal home cooks and chefs alike. With his mantra It`s Just That Simple ", Chef Jim has been converting many of today`s complicated recipes into preparations that suit the working family as well as showing professional chefs the art of simplifying.
His father, Chef Jack Bailey, taught Jim Bailey his trade from the age of 14, unbelievably. Rather than playing ball (or even hooky for that matter) with his childhood friends, he engrossed himself in his father`s trade as a chef and restaurant owner by going directly into the kitchen and climbing the culinary ladder the hard way. Washing floors, peeling potatoes and working as a busboy in the front of the house, his insatiable appetite to learn was only overshadowed by his aspiration to become as great a chef as his father and grandfather.
There are two things you should always bear in mind Jim ", Jack told his son, You never will know everything and always use your imagination in the kitchen. " It was with this sage piece of advice that The Yankee Chef began his career as a model of imagination and an icon of proficiency.
During his late teen years on into his 20s, Jim began his culinary adventure across the country, cooking in seaside restaurants in Florida, established diners in the mid-West and Fusion-style establishments in the Great Lakes region. Soaking up various food preparation styles like a sponge, he embarked back home to Maine to begin his colorful culinary career.
Realizing that, especially in Maine, families could ill afford foreign spices and extravagant ingredients that his worked with in his travels, Jim embarked on a quest to create ultimate comfort food using everyday items and many New England ingredients.
He wanted his fathers help with enrolling in The Culinary Institute of America, but when confronting his father with his wishes, Chef Jack gave him a choice. Either enroll if desired or he, himself, would teach Jim everything he needed to know, but with one difference. At the end of that sentence and before Jim could ask what that statement meant, his father picked up the phone and started conversing with a recent family friend who had just graduated from Johnson Wales. What are the pleats on your chef`s hat representative of ? " his father inquired of the recipient of his phone call. He quickly told Jim to pick up the other line. I don`t know " was the answer quizzically given and heard by Jim. After the call, Jack layed his hand on his sons shoulder and told him That`s why you should let me teach you! "
That is precisely what The Yankee Chef agreed to do. From that point on, the basic questions of the kitchen were answered in the old fashioned way, hands on and with decades of knowledge and hard, demanding work. This was the key to a complete and functional leadership of your peers. The pleats in a chef`s hat? That tells you how many different preparations that a particular chef can create with an egg.
Jim continued with his enrollment of his father`s philosophy of hard work and determination being the background for a good working ethic. And soon became the hardest working cook/chef many of his peers had the fortune to work along side. At the same time, he began acquiring a thirst of the origin, meaning and relationship of food and man. When he was not reading his usual encyclopedias and dictionaries as a way to relax, Jim found himself burying his nose into his fathers and grandfathers extensive library on New England customs, food preparations and recipes from centuries gone by. It is with this knowledge, and thirst for knowledge that separates Chef Jim from many of his fellow chefs.
Instead of merely preparing food, this Yankee chef is knowledgeable about the true taste and inspiration of all things he prepares. He is a genuine master of his domain.
Having married and fathering 4 children, his focus (of course) was his family but his renewed energy into providing the best support he could for his family as well as living up the Bailey reputation was the catalyst for his first cookbook and much more.
Chef Jack died in 2001 but not without leaving a true command of the kitchen to his son. Although always aspiring to put together many of his recipes in a cookbook himself, Jack never did have the opportunity to leave that written legacy. It is with pride and determination that his son, The Yankee Chef, has compiled the most extensive cookbook of New England traditions, folklore, and generations of original Yankee recipes to date.
Chef Jim is also a food columnist for over a dozen newspapers and online publications and is heralded as the next true comfort food chef, but with Yankee flair. All this with convenience, cost and simplicity in mind. Want Filet au Boeuf with Foie Gras slices and Chanterelle Ragout? "he can show you. Want simple Blueberry Glaze Pie? ".he can show you. Want Ditali Lisci simmered in Arugula Pesto?....He can show you. Want a plain Chocolate Whoopie Pie?...he can show you.
Those were just examples of the range this chef has. From fusion, international, regional and beyond, The Yankee Chef is one to be watched for, and to be seen in short manner.