I’m not going to lie. Going from hiring the staff to BEing the staff has not always been easy. When you’ve been married to a member of Princess Diana’s favorite Band, had Andy Warhol on speed-dial, and Mick Jagger happened to be the bartender at your baby shower (Jerry Hall threw the shower for me)…it can be difficult to keep that professional smile on your face when addressed disrespectfully simply because you entered through the kitchen rather than the red carpet. It has been a huge lesson in humility.


Have you ever noticed how something as simple as a smile from a stranger can brighten your day? Showing a little courtesy to people rendering a service for you will go a very long way too. Which kind of client are you?


The Totally Self-Obsessed Client: Guilty as charged! It never dawned on me when I jetted off somewhere and canceled at short notice (without pay) to think… “how will the maid pay her rent?” I am so sorry Mary! When it was my own mortgage at risk, I quickly learned that sometimes clients need to be gently educated.

The Inspirational Client: I was so fortunate early on in my personal chef career to cook for a man that ran a huge empire of theaters around the world. He was an insanely busy man that traveled constantly, yet he always made time to tell me how much he enjoyed a certain dish I’d prepared the week before, or ask how my daughter was. I’m sure he did the same with everyone from the doorman of his apartment building to every single employee in his company. Why? Because it inspires loyalty and pride in your work… and the desire to perform at peak capacity which in turn, I’m convinced, was the secret to his success. The mark of a true leader.

The Friendly Client: The first twinge of upstairs downstairs discomfort came when I was hired to do a Thanksgiving dinner for an old friend. Aside from the host, half the people there were also my friends. Once dinner was ready I had no idea if I was meant to join them at the table or not. Where should that invisible professional line be? I cook, and I am proud of what I create. Therefore if invited, I do sit down to dinner, and if not…that is OK too. It’s a business transaction, not personal visit. I might also add that since food is my business, if you do invite me for a personal visit… please do not ask me to bring food (unless I offer). Would you expect your jeweler to bring you diamonds? OK, we would all love that, but realistically?
The Overly Appreciative Client: One of my A-list actor clients seemed to enjoy my food so much, especially The Floating Island for a Crowd (the ultimate in French nursery comfort food), that he would often greet me at the door by throwing his arms around me in appreciation. I had to quietly ask his assistant to discourage this for fear I’d swoon and my legs would buckle when he let go.

The Pound of Flesh Client: We all know them… the people that always want something for nothing, and the more you give, the more they expect. Trying to please them with giving them “extras” will only leave your pockets bare, and your services devalued. It will never be enough. Presenting a polite refusal to unreasonable requests is the only way to win their respect, and hopefully train them to be better clients and people. Otherwise they are just energy vampires, so beware!


The Whipping Boy Client: There have been a couple clients who seemed to think hiring me to cook for them also gave them free license to take their personal frustrations out on me. I was miserable until I realized that just because someone hires you, doesn’t mean you have to cook for them. If they don’t appreciate you, suggest that perhaps someone else might be a better fit (fire them) and move on. Now I know I too, have been guilty of snapping at someone unfairly after spending all day sitting in traffic or listening to a zillion voice prompts before reaching an actual human voice (only to be asked all of the same questions over again). I will never understand why companies think wasting your time is good customer service??? However, I try to be more mindful of this today. When frustrations are misplaced they spread like a virus destroying every one’s day.

I think being a personal chef has put me on a path towards being a better person. I’m still a work in progress. Some days I feel at the top of my game, and others I feel deflated. I can however, almost always count on this Floating Island for a Crowd recipe to rise. I first saw it on an episode of Martha Stewart Living. The flowers are organic, edible flowers. I love to add color to a dish with them.

Floating Island for a Crowd

SERVES: 12

INGREDIENTS:

For the Meringue:

18 large egg whites — at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup — plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray
For the Crème Anglaise:
4 cups half-and-half
12 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
DIRECTIONS:
1. Prepare the Meringue; Preheat oven to 325° with rack in center. Fill a large roasting pan halfway with water and transfer to oven.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, slowly whisk whites and salt until slightly foamy. Add cream of tartar, and gradually increase the speed to high. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until meringue is stiff; lower speed and add vanilla, whisking until combined.
3. Spray a 10-inch (15 cup) nonstick angel food-cake pan without a removable bottom using nonstick cooking spray; transfer meringue to pan. Using a rubber spatula, firmly press down on meringue to remove any air pockets, and to smooth the surface.
4. Transfer to prepared roasting pan. Bake until lightly golden and puffed, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely; meringue will deflate as it cools. Invert into a shallow serving bowl, and chill until ready to serve.
5. Prepare the Crème Anglaise; Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until just beginning to steam, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk together yolks and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. While whisking constantly, slowly add 1/4 of the heated cream to yolk mixture, being careful not to cook the yolks. When thoroughly combined, slowly add remaining cream. Transfer yolk mixture back into same saucepan, and set over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan with a small heatproof spatula until thickened. Strain crème anglaise through a fine sieve into bowl set in the prepared ice bath. Stir in vanilla. Chill until ready to serve.
6. Prepare the Caramel Syrup; Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir or allow to boil until sugar is completely dissolved; gently swirl or tilt saucepan to help dissolve. Bring syrup to a boil by increasing to high heat; cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Uncover, and continue to boil untouched until caramel begins to darken; swirl until syrup becomes a dark amber color. Remove from heat, and immediately add 1/3 cup water, being careful to stand back. Swirl until smooth and let cool; chill until ready to serve.
7. When ready to serve, pour enough crème anglaise around meringue to come one-third of the way up the sides. Drizzle meringue with caramel syrup; serve immediately.
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  • May 12, 2009
    3:24 am

    Jewels, it’s a fascinating blog, and you bring up so great points! We are all just people right? I hope your blog reaches wide and far–Sara Myron

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    3:25 am

    Lordy, I always forget how COOL of a life you have led and then something like this comes along! It’s a fascinating read, great pictures – may it bring you recognition, riches and joy

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    12:45 pm

    It’s nice to see the prospective of being there and having help, to being the help. You’re writing is really flowing, and it’s a pleasure to read. Looking forward to the next installment!

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    7:42 pm

    Hi Jewels, What a great read! Keep up the good work :)Dana

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    7:44 pm

    BRILLIANT and you look stunning too! Tessa Dahl

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    7:46 pm

    Sam Phillips at 7:37am May 12BBF ~ I LOOOOOVE THE NEW BLOG! i clicked follow, and now my name is a conglomeration of letters and numbers and i can’t seem to change it! also, am trying to write a comment and can’t find where on the blog? am i a moron? xxxxx’s

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    7:49 pm

    Fascinating…. captivates so many heartfelt feelings and emotions! You have alot to offer in soo many ways. Mary Jane

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    8:12 pm

    Writing has got to be harder than cooking, and you do a great job of it. Thank you for sharing so much and so well.Brent

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    11:05 pm

    Nancy Stoddart: Great blog, especially the floating island. This is one talented chef!

    Reply
  • May 12, 2009
    11:56 pm

    I’m as passionate about writing as I am about cooking and eating…so the words of encouragement mean the world to me! I hope you will all keep reading my blog, because I’m having so much fun writing it! THANK YOU!!!Jewels PS. Tell all your friends to follow the blog too!

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    12:06 am

    Allison Coia at 4:47pm May 12Love the Blog! You have knack for writing Ms. Rhodes!

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    2:45 am

    James Pluta at 6:05pm May 12Great blog, Jewels!

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    9:36 am

    Beauty, talent with food and NOW with blogging!!! I guess that makes you a triple threat, girl! ;) Good for you Jewels!! You will go far and I’m happy to see that happen for a person like you who is so kind and giving to others!

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    2:43 pm

    Hi Jewels: LOVE your blog! I’m helping you spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. Your friend in the kitchen, ~Sharon

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    2:49 pm

    I’m so enjoying the reading, Jewels. Thanks for sharing your world with us. I love the client comparisons…they come in all different varieties, don’t they? Keep it up!Steph Riley

    Reply
  • May 13, 2009
    10:23 pm

    Best wishes on your writing!

    Reply
  • May 14, 2009
    4:15 am

    LOVE IT LOVE IT…..and educational,,,,and makes me want to start baking immediately,,,,feelz lilke we r right there with u HDJ,,,,EAZY READING,,,BONNE APPETITE<<<<

    Reply
  • May 14, 2009
    6:23 pm

    I’d hug you if you made a floating island too. ~Shephard

    Reply
  • May 14, 2009
    9:42 pm

    i agree this is a fascinating blog and you have lead a very interesting life.if you decided to write a book i think it would do extremely well.i mean alot of us see and hear things in magazines about models and never really come to know who the real person is unless they truely open up.it’s easy to think they look beautiful and have this amazing lifestyle 24/7 that includes just shopping and traveling.no real problems and no feelings.i like the fact that you opened up and were honest about your feelings.also alot more people can relate to you if they have been in the same boat.anyways i enjoy your writing and will continue to keep reading and making comments.Laura Lynn;-)

    Reply
  • May 30, 2009
    10:27 pm

    While enjoying a relaxing weekend with your parents and your uncle in Clear Lake, your mom mentioned your blog. Loved your pictures!!! Your blog is fascinating, fun, entertaining and clearly shows your many talents. I think you have only just begun!!!!!!!! May the momentum continue to build!! You have worked hard and deserve the success that is about to come your way!!!!!!!! Love and hugs . . . Marlene

    Reply
  • June 22, 2009
    2:54 am

    This was well said, Julieanne. I was just commenting to a friend that everyone needs to have a service job for at least 3 months out of their life to learn how to properly treat waitstaff, chefs, and anyone else in the service industry…and it still applies as I do web design and still face the same basic types of clients.

    Reply
  • March 16, 2010
    9:02 pm

    HeY Jewels, I was reading your post and it must have been hard from hiring the help to being the help..But u seem like you have a good head on your shoulders and I have tried some of your recipes. I have to say your pretty damm good at what u do…..

    Reply
  • March 18, 2010
    7:16 pm

    Hey Jewels I read your comments about hiring the help, then being the help.We'll I have tried your recipes and I have to say you have a great gift.Life definitely lead you in the right direction.. Minnie:)

    Reply

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