Yes that is me in my chef’s uniform at age 3.
The year was 1965. My family was immigrating to New England from Old England on the Queen Elizabeth 1. There was a dress-up contest for the kids and my parents had to forage the ship for a costume for me. They managed to persuade one of the kitchen chefs to lend me a jacket, apron, and toque (I’ve always been grateful that they didn’t ask one of the maids for a uniform). My elder sister Catharyn, poor thing, was dressed as a witch -I didn’t dare ask which part of the ship that costume came from!
Thus began my illustrious career as a Chef.
The next significant milestone came at age 10. After a 7-year apprenticeship at my mother’s stove, I opened my first restaurant on the back porch of my house in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was called Matt’s Place. It was one part Joe’s Diner and one part Alice’s Restaurant (yes the famous one), two local dining landmarks that I loved. I served whatever was in the cupboards and refrigerator of my mother’s kitchen (we also had a large vegetable garden so I was ahead of the local food trend by about 20 years).
My sister Catharyn waited tables and the next-door neighbors were my happy customers. I keep a copy of the menu on my kitchen wall and I refer to it for inspiration from time to time. Not for inspiration from the limited menu selections (two eggs any style, Campbell’s soups, and all sorts of sandwiches), but because of the hours of operation noted on the front page “Certain Saturdays and Certain Sundays”. Now that’s a goal I want to achieve at some point in my career!