Macy's was kind enough to invite me to a bloggers' reception for Chef Tyler Florence at Lenox Mall today. Our reception was held in Macy's secret blogger den located far below Atlanta. (I'm sworn to secrecy, so I can't tell you where it is, but I can tell you it's very near the Bat Cave.) He answered some questions from us and I was quite impressed by his seriousness and commitment. He first explained that his job is to come up with recipes that we can use to put dinner on the table---interesting and good but also feasible for one person to make in an hour or so. He explained that restaurant chefs work under very different circumstances: they cook in large batches, they can make components like stocks that take days because they will be used continuously, and they have large staffs. His goal is to translate the intent of a restaurant recipe into something that can be made at home. When he spoke about the trend away from complicated food, he said that many chefs had become too focused on their own process and that restaurants should focus on the patron, not necessarily trying to top the other chefs in town.
Chef Florence then went to the Home Store upstairs for a cooking show. About a hundred attendees watched him prepare a meal and sampled the food: sole amandine, lemon zest smashed potatoes, and baked green beans. The smashed potatoes with lemon were my favorite. He said that he stumbled across the idea by accident---some lemon zest went in the wrong direction---and he really liked the result. Some great ideas happen by accident. He is a very warm and charming host and gave an outstanding show in which he shared a little of himself as well as his cooking.