The Apprentice

Towards the end of The Apprentice, Jacques Pépin describes his current home kitchen, custom-built to his desires after a lifetime spent in the culinary industry. The kitchen as he describes it is dreamy: everything in its right place, with an abundance of counter space and the best tools for the task.

L and I are house-hunting right now, poring over hundreds of real estate listings, in an effort to find the right place for us to settle in for the long term. We have our differences in tastes and desires, but we share an important commonality: the primacy of the kitchen. As we flip through the perfectly-staged photos in each listing, we always stop at snapshots of the kitchen, often using it a barometer for how we will feel about the rest of the house.

The appeal of a nice kitchen is not simply superficial. After all, the kitchen is a place of congregation; during any gathering or party, guests naturally come together in the place where food is being prepared, and where drinks are accessible and abundant. Ever since moving to London, L and I go out less and cook a lot more. I prepare the fifteen weekday meals, and some on the weekends, so I often find myself spending more time in the kitchen every week than I do in any room of the house other than the bedroom. Having a place to cook, a place to gather that is functional, accessible, and beautiful is an important consideration in our future house purchase.

Jacques Pépin in his kitchen. (The Food Network)

Jacques Pépin in his kitchen. (The Food Network)

Unlike Mr. Pépin, I have not spent my entire life in kitchens, commercial or domestic. My desire, ability, and propensity to cook regularly are relatively new developments that have come from my work-at-home situation and the want—nay, need—to be healthier and more financially prudent. I do not feel the same ease in the kitchen as Mr. Pépin, but as he describes so well in The Apprentice, any ease, skill, and comfort will grow slowly as I spend more time preparing meals. Mr. Pépin may have cooking in his blood, but he beautifully describes how his abilities were slowly honed over time, through painstaking hard work from apprentice to master chef; a good cook is made through trial and error, repetition, and learning from the best.

I will never be as proficient in the kitchen as Mr. Pépin—or as many of the people in my life, to be honest—but my comfort grows every day. L will hopefully attest that my skill has improved as well, as she is the one that must eat the fruits of my labor. What The Apprentice taught me is that proficiency will take time, will take work—and hopefully, in the near future, will involve a more functional and beautiful kitchen, too.

Time to get back to looking at real estate listings.