Susan and I were thrilled when David Gallent agreed to join Kitchen & Culture. We felt that we had really scored. David is an amazing award-winning photographer with food styling skills to boot. We knew David's very unique perspective was exactly what we needed to flush out the vision we share for Louisiana Kitchen. Everyone adores David. He's really laid back, smart, and funny. It was hard to imagine him ever really getting riled up.
We were right. We were wrong.
We were right about the photographer and stylist angle: The magazine is going to be visually stunning, thanks to David and Scott Ott, our highly skilled and talented award-winning Creative Director. We were wrong in thinking we were just getting a staff Photographer/Stylist. He is SO much more. Here's an excerpt from a conversation we had just this morning:
David, barking into my ear regarding something he discovered online: "What the (really nasty expletive)?! Look at this recipe! This is a DISASTER! What idiot wrote this?! This is a fail, total fail. Whoever wrote this needs an ass kicking!"
Conversations like this have become routine.
Turns out David is a hard-core recipe snob with an encyclopedic knowledge of food science and the ability to formulate brilliant, beautiful recipes straight out of his head. He has a zero tolerance policy for poor kitchen craftsmanship. If I had bothered to read his resume instead of merely looking at the pictures he takes, I might have seen it coming. Dude has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and spent years in recipe and cookbook development, testing and styling with Time Magazine's Oxmoor House division before he added Brilliant Photographer to his resume. Might I also mention that he is proficient in French translation, gastronomic conversions, and nutritional analysis?
I was unprepared for this great gift. Interacting with someone who has this very unique skill set is simply fascinating. I've written a cookbook and edited what feels like a trillion recipes but, I'm no fool: He kicks my ass in this department, just leaves me in the dust.
That he is also a 6'6 Goliath of a man just adds to the hilarity of his visceral reaction to something most people are simply oblivious to. Knowing how seriously he takes this I now run all recipes past him for approval. Here are a few of his comments:
Recipe 1: " Boring! My vote is to fail this recipe unless you want me to rewrite it completely."
Recipe 2: "This recipe contains almost 2 cups of fat (with evaporated milk and cheese are factored in). HUGE FAIL!"
Recipe 3: "Amateur. This is a Ham Biscuit Recipe. Lose it."
"Ham Biscuit" is David speak for a recipe that is pathetic enough to be insulting, as in:
1 piece of ham
Cut biscuit in half. Put ham in middle. Serve.
The sight of a published recipe—or the mere suggestion that one should be considered for publication—that calls for a can of cream soup just throws him into orbit. "The only time that crap is ok is if you use it to bind leftovers together and bake it off in a casserole dish," a distraught and horrified David shouted just the other day as he inspected a submission that came in from a Restaurant That Shall Remain Nameless . "Even then just shut the hell up about it. Don't tell anyone. We must keep it out of the magazine or we will insult our readers."
I love this!
It gets better. I am an accomplished home cook. I feel confident in the kitchen and am the recipient of frequent praise. I like this. Thusly armed with confidence, I carted over a big pan of chicken and sausage jambalaya made with Jazzmen brown rice for Susan's birthday potluck last month. I walked in to the sounds of people "ooing" and "aahing" over some meatballs Boy Wonder had just wickied together for the party.
So Boy Wonder helps himself to the jambalaya and takes a bite. He stops, shoots his wife, Jennifer, a look. I await praise. I hear, "Jyl, the rice is undercooked. If you eat undercooked rice it can expand in your stomach and kill you."
Oh, shit. A fail.