World Chefs: John Besh digs into his past in latest cookbook

Tue Feb 4, 2014 11:15am EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - John Besh delves into his past, recalling the advice and lessons he learned from top European chefs at the start of his culinary career in "Cooking from the Heart," his third cookbook.

Since returning to the United States from Europe, the Louisiana native has earned acclaim for his modern spin on the cooking of his youth at his flagship restaurant, August in New Orleans. He has also opened eight other eateries.

The 45-year-old celebrity chef and former U.S. Marine recently spoke to Reuters about his early days as a chef, his mentors and the essential tools in his kitchen.

Q: What do you want to share with your new book?

A: The previous two books spoke so much about my home, my region, my family. This book goes a little deeper where I get to talk about those great mentors who passed on all these delicious life lessons. It's taking readers on a journey and I retraced some of my travels to some of the most memorable places.

Q: What were those early days as a chef like for you?

A: That time in my life, transitioning from combat to this civilian world of the restaurant business, was a hard position. It was frustrating because I wasn't surrounded by Marines anymore, that took some time to work through - to come from the Marines and to work for some of the 'prima donna' chefs ... there were a lot of bad experiences with them. I also was able to learn what not to do and (who) I didn't want to be.

Q: You wrote extensively about chef Karl Josef Fuchs. Why was he so influential to you as a chef?   Continued...

American chef John Besh is seen in the kitchen of his home in this April 2012 handout photo taken in New Orleans, Louisiana courtesy of WYES-TV made available to Reuters on February 4, 2014. REUTERS/WYES-TV /The Door Online/Handout via Reuters