Pastry Chef Gina DePalma Goes On Kanye-Styled Twitter Speech About 'Passion'
James Beard Award winner on over-using a term
Gina DePalma is a New York City pastry legend, having worked at Chanterelle (early '90s) before cooking under Claudia Fleming at Gramery Tavern and eventually serving as opening Pastry Chef at Babbo (1998). After six prior nominations, she was named Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2009. In 2013, she left Batali and crew and now splits time between Italy and Washington Heights, where she cooks everyday in her apartment kitchen. “There's a saying in the business: a good cook never blames her equipment,” she writes on her website.“That's true, but I still hope for a bigger kitchen someday.” And we have no doubt that she will be cooking in a larger kitchen sometime in the near future.
When I awoke Saturday morning, I did not expect to be greeted by a Gina DePalma Twitter speech about the concept of "passion" in the current culinary landscape (and let it be clear from the top, this was no Twitter “rant”). The culinary world oftentimes gets hung up on buzzwords, and not just "pickled ramps." You might remember a time recently where everybody was talking about “cooking with soul” — which personally never really meant much. Similarly, “passion” has been thrown around a lot of late.
So-called “passion projects” have besieged the food community, be it chefs starting their own magazines, conferences, think tanks, fermentation labs and guest chef series. The vibe has generally been that if a chef is not multi-tasking like a Fernet-fueled James Franco, there is a perception of weakness, lack of creativity and, in worse cases, failure. DePalma takes issue with this in a thoughtful and succinct Twitter stream:
What I am about to say is not going to be popular. But the “P” word->passion, is over-and misused, especially when it comes to one’s work.— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013
I value and strive for loyalty, responsibility, respect, grace and kindness in those who surround me. I’ll take these over passion any day.— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013
And what gets me even more is this false notion that if you aren’t “passionate” about your work you are living less than a full life.— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013
Or, even uber-worse, that if you aren’t spouting off about your “passion,” you aren’t good at your work, or dedicated to it, or enjoy it.— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013
Passion-speak is too pervasive, especially in the food world. I find it really ill-advised to measure yourself, or yr resolve in those terms— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013
Speech over. Thanks for listening, tweeps.— Gina DePalma (@ginadee) December 7, 2013