Courtesy Francesco Tonelli

When I met Cédric Vongerichten he told me that we would probably go overtime since his father, Jean-Georges, “parle beaucoup!”. I didn’t get very far, my first questions soon sparked a father and son exchange, preempting the rest of my solo interview with Cédric. The young chef had barely mentioned the Culinary Institute of America, when his father jumped in to tell me about the small-business classes he had taken years prior at Hunter College (here’s some footage of Jean-Georges in those early days cooking with the one and only Julia Childs). But I digress, back to Cédric. Word on the street is that he is even faster and more demanding than his father.
 

Growing up, Cédric had big shoes to fill in France, at London’s Berkeley Hotel and at El Bulli, all before apprenticing for his father. I suggest you watch a documentary about El Bulli to learn about the rigors of being a line cook (unless you’re a Chef, in which case I’m honored.) When Cédric finally started to work for his father, Jean-Georges mentions “Just as Cédric requested years ago, I’m treating him like my other chefs. I talk to him the way I talk to all of my executive chefs everyday.” In fact, during our interview, Cédric referred to his father as Chef Jean-Georges.
 

As Cédric and Jean-Georges discussed, you can’t be coddled through this job. It’s too demanding: 15-18 hours uninterrupted work days, acrobatic knife skills and little or no holidays. No wonder Jean-Georges wanted his son to have another/better life, though I cannot picture Cédric as a lawyer or doctor; from an early age his love for his dad, food, and the kitchen amalgamated.
 

Jean-Georges mentions that he and his son  work very well together in the kitchen; Cédric’s mellowness and Jean-Georges’ chatter balance each other off. It was inspiring to watch this father and son bond, in and out of the kitchen…If you’re reading this on Thanksgiving, it might give you some hope about sharing the kitchen with your father or mother!
 

Watch Cédric’s interview here
 

Laura is the founder of 20to30.com. She decided to create an online community to share those universal 20to30 moments that never made it onto CVs, bios or wikipedia entries.

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