Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chef Kevin Gillespie

I had this brilliant and eloquent entry all written in my head during the week before we moved and I didn't have the time or the internet access to get it typed up. So, after much contemplation, here is what I have been able to remember and put together.

I think everyone is a little prone to hero worship. Especially when it involves celebrities. There is a little part of us that wants to have that close encounter with fame, fortune, and brilliance. And I have been lucky enough to get to meet some pretty awesome people in my relatively short life. I have met authors, musicians, actors, and others. But there is something I have learned through all of this. Most of the time we are drawn to character or images, not the actual individual. And in some cases it's a bit of a letdown. Not always, but sometimes. And I think that's why my list of famous people I want to meet has dwindled down to almost nothing.

But there is something about Chef Kevin Gillespie that makes me feel like a googly-eyed 12 year old. And not just because I literally salivate when I even think about what he can do to a piece of meat. But because I respect him in ways I never thought it possible to respect an individual that I have never even met! I respect him for what he does, but I also respect him for who he is. Because in many ways, those two things are one and the same.

His work is not just a passion, it's a calling and a ministry! He does what he does because he believes in it, but also because he knows he is called to it. He does it not just because it makes him money or because he personally enjoys it, but because of the benefit to others and his own responsibility. His dedication to seasonality and sustainability are the definition of what it means to be a good steward of one's resources. His passion is contagious! His notoriety puts him in an interesting place. I have no doubt that national TV exposure and thousands of fans are good for one's ego. But what I have seen him do with that notoriety is probably the reason I admire him the most.

He chooses to take the time to educate. Now on one hand it could be argued that an understanding of the benefits of farm-to-table, sustainable, seasonal, local cuisine is good for his business. But it's about more than that. It's about the responsibility to share with others in order to encourage good stewardship. Because there is a sense of responsibility not just for his own backyard and not just for the people he knows and loves.

I would love to meet him. I have no doubt that, if given the chance to shake his hand and tell him thank you for his work and to share how much I admire him, I would probably get a bad case of the stupids or the giggles or both. And I know that the chances of my ever getting to have a REAL conversation with him are slim to none. But I can dream! In fact, I literally had a dream that I got to sit across the table from him and just talk. It was lovely. Unfortunately I had finally worked up the nerve to ask some really deep questions just before I woke up and never got my answers! Alas, such is life!

I don't know what his religious affiliation is. Because he made a comment on Top Chef that he goes vegetarian for Lent, I assume he is Christian. I am tempted to assume he's Catholic, but at the end of the day it's really not my business (or anyone else's for that matter!) and knowing doesn't change what I think about him. But I would love to get his thoughts on the connection between food and faith in his life and what he sees as the implications for others. The connections between what someone believes, what they eat, and how they live the rest of their life are powerful. And while I have the perspective of a theologian who is interested in food, I would love to compare that to the perspective of a chef with an interest in theology.

One day I'm going to actually be able to eat his food. And if I'm really lucky I'll be able to thank him personally for making the world a better place, one tasty bite at a time!

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