There once was a hungry German boy who wanted to one day be one of the best chefs in the world. He studied hard, underwent a difficult apprenticeship (“In Germany they let you make mistakes once, and then they kick you where it hurts.”). He then worked in different kitchens where he ducked food, thrown plates and, at times, knives, until he got better, earned the respect of his mentors and a Gold Medal for his team in the German Cooking Olympics, the same year Germany named him “Chef of the Year.”
Eventually, he made it to America, even became a prestigious Executive Chef at one of the best hotels of his time in Philadelphia, The Barclay. However, after clashes with a wasteful manager, he moved on to another corporation, which deliberately delayed his German work-visa papers — they were paying him less than he was worth, until he found out.
Because of his earlier preparations and constant study and practice of his craft, when Lady Luck or Serendipity came calling, he was ready. He was given the opportunity to perform a small cooking segment for a local TV show.
The switchboard lit up: half the people complained they could not understand his accent; the other half said they loved him. Within months almost 40 million people across America watched him cook and teach them how to cook delicious foods. No chef to that time had ever done that on syndicated television, which was new.
Privately, people continued to love or hate him, but he ignored the haters. Instead, he studied his craft, practiced his skills (He could prep an entire carcass in under twenty minutes… he was the “fastest chef with knives in the West,” which he demonstrated on LIVE! with Regis & Kathie Lee, but you didn’t want to stand too close as the stainless steel blades flashed!) and took on more responsibilities: eventually running five restaurants, teaching regular, local cooking classes in person, taping more TV show segments, performing live in convention halls, Womens Shows venues and on numerous television shows as a guest chef.
Through it all, this chef woke up each day at 5:00 A.M. and did daily food-prep work until 11:00 A.M., so when his team cooked lunches and dinners, they were always prepared, always ready, always ahead of their game.
The moral of this story? Constant living within his dream, constant daily preparation, constant learning of new things about his game, constant practice… leads to fame, fortune, prestigious awards and lasting recognition. As America’s pioneer TV showman chef, one of the best chefs in the world, the lessons of “Chef Tell” Erhardt’s lifetime are the lessons of would-be national champions in any field.
© 2013 by Ronald Joseph Kule and KuleBooks LLC. All Rights Reserved.