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Although I considered leaving, she convinced me to go inside and sit down. I slumped down in my seat and the awards began. These ceremonies tend to drag on, and Outstanding Chef was the very last award to be given. Finally, Kim Cattrall slinked onstage to announce the last award of the evening. I perked up momentarily, smiled when my name was read as a nominee, and settled back into my chair. Then the announcement: “The Outstanding Chef in America for 2008 is . . ” I was stunned. Suddenly I was onstage and the crowd stood, cheering.

The Morgan home was “on the river,” as was said in the town. The affluent families gathered along the St. Clair River in large homes situated close to boathouses, docks, and piers. Cindy and I started out as mutual friends of my first real crush, Stephanie Petrone. After Stephanie and I had a falling out, Cindy and I grew closer, transitioning as we grew older from friends, to best friends, to boyfriend and girlfriend. I always felt slightly discomforted by Cindy’s family. They had an overt awareness of religion, social class, and educational achievement that made me realize I had a very different upbringing.

I started buying culinary magazines like Food & Wine and Gourmet while standing in the grocery store checkout line. They didn’t carry those titles in St. Clair, and I had never been exposed to fine dining. Suddenly, these cookbooks and magazines vastly expanded my awareness of the scope of the gastronomic world. There was this huge world that I wanted to explore, but I was incredibly naive. I had no understanding of the difference between haute cuisine and the classical education that I was exposed to every day.

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50 Famous People of the World by Speedy Publishing


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