Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The French Laundry through the eyes
of a kitchen veteran

by Evan Noetzel

Chef Robert Corey--owner/founder of Denver-based 12 Seasons Personal Chef & Sommelier Services (formerly The French Manner) and a chef-instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Colorado--has amassed many an accolade during his more than three and a half decades working in both foodservice and culinary education. And now that he's paid his dues? He's taking a well-deserved break ... Well, not so much a break as a research-intensive culinary sabbatical.

As it turns out, Corey is almost half way through a two-month-long stagiaire (a glorified industry term that's French for, roughly, unpaid apprenticeship), working under the Thomas Keller at his world-famous eatery, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif.

Corey, 50, started his French Laundry journey on January 19 of this year and has documented his every thought and experience along the way--from the honor of doning "the blue apron" to his new-found appreciation for "Micro-Hyacinths and sheer-sliced Toyko Turnips"--on his blog: "The Need to Feed--My Sabbatical Journey."

"I think that chef Corey's journey is a refreshing and encouraging story," 12 Seasons executive sous chef Mary Reish tells CET, "about a chef, who, quite late in life, is willing to place ego and familiarity aside in order to learn from the best, with the ultimate goal of sharing his knowledge and experiences with his students, his clients and his staff. This is a story of a successful, inspiring, yet patient chef who has thrown caution to the wind in order to bring the best to Denver."

To follow Corey's progress, view his great photos and read his daily musings--for instance, today a sleep-deprived Corey blogged about fighting fatigue and looking for inspiration for an upcoming "Burgundian Winter Dinner"--visit Robert Corey at The French Laundry holding "fresh black truffles from Provence, France."