At this year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, F&W editor in chief Dana Cowin moderated a panel on kitchen mishaps, inspired by her new book, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. Here, excerpts from guests Dominique Ansel, Chris Cosentino and Anne Burrell about the mistakes they most learned from. Read more about the panel on Restaurant Hospitality.
Dominique Ansel, Cronut king: "I remember being at one of the best pastry shops in Paris (Fauchon). There were 45 chefs, and all of them had 10 to 15 years' experience. They worked on this huge wedding cake for four days very late at night. What they realized too late is that the cake they put in the oven was too big to come out. I learned an important lesson: Make sure what you put in an oven can come out. It’s all about not doing a mistake again."
Anne Burrell, Food Network host: "I worked at Felidia with Lidia Bastianich. It was my first job, and I was a sous chef at one of the best restaurants in New York. I was so proud. But the Italians have a saying that is heartbreaking: Buono ma..., which means, "It’s good, but…" Every time I would hear that from Lidia, my heart would sink. For a while, every day I had to make this lobster sauce. And for some reason I just couldn’t get it right. One day it would be too lobstery, and then it wouldn’t be lobstery enough. My fingers would be torn up from lobster shells. And then one day, finally, I got a che buono! (delicious).
Chris Cosentino, chef of San Francisco's new Cockscomb: "My first job out of culinary school was with Mark Miller, who has the most amazing palate. Every day as a prep chef at Red Sage, we would be given a prep list that could be 40 items or longer. One day I had to do a lamb shank that was rubbed with a spice mixture that included habanero powder. I rubbed down 60 lamb shanks with the spice mixture, but I wet the bed on the habanero powder. I didn’t remember the amount on the list and used way too much. The whole dining room was filled with habanero smoke, and I ruined 150 pounds of lamb. I’ve learned to write things down."