Anyone Can Teach / Anyone Can Cook


I’m noticing lately a similarity between how we talk about teaching and how the movie Ratatoullie talks about cooking. I want, someday soon, to write up a post about teaching reworking some of these quotations (I only had time this morning to gather them, hopefully I can begin to work soon):

Gusteau: [on the TV] You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.

Anton Ego: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

Emile: W-w-wait. You… read?  Remy: Well, not… excessively. Emile: Oh, man. Does dad know? Remy: You could fill a book – a lot of books – with things Dad doesn’t know. And they have. Which is why I read. Which is also our secret.

Gusteau: [on the TV] How can I describe it? Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it. [Remy tastes food accompanied by synesthetic visions of color and musicRemy: Oh, Gusteau was right. Oh, mmm, yeah. Each flavor was totally unique. But, combine one flavor with another, and something new was created!

Gusteau: What do I always say? Anyone can cook! Remy: Well, yeah, anyone *can*, that doesn’t mean that anyone *should*.

Colette: I know the Gusteau style cold. In every dish, Chef Gusteau always has something unexpected. I will show you. I memorize all his recipe. Linguini: [writing in notebook] Always do something unexpected. Colette: No. Follow the recipe. Linguini: But you just said that… Colette: [interrupts] No-no-no-no. It was *his* job to be unexpected. It is *our* job to… ColetteLinguini: [together, as Linguini rewrites the advice] … follow the recipe.

Gusteau: Ah, you are a clever rat. Now, who is that? Remy: Oh, him? He’s nobody. Gusteau: Not nobody, he is part of the kitchen. Remy: He’s a plongeur or something. He washes dishes or takes out the garbage. He doesn’t cook. Gusteau: But, he could. Remy: Uh, no. Gusteau: How do you know? What do I always say? “Anyone can cook!”

Skinner: [seeing a ladle in Linguini’s hand] You are COOKING? How DARE you cook in MY kitchen! Where do get the gall to attempt something so monumentally idiotic? I should have you drawn and quartered! I’ll do it! I think the law is on my side! Larousse, draw and quarter this man! *After* you put him in the duck press to squeeze the fat out of his head!

Colette: [to Linguini] How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the *sound* of the crust. Listen….

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One response to “Anyone Can Teach / Anyone Can Cook

  • Karen

    Maybe rather than anyone can teach, it’s more simple: anyone can learn. Remy had a gift of smell, but not a gift of teaching. He compared and thought and worked and he created. Gusteau was his “ignorant schoolmaster” in a sense. His pretend Gusteau couldn’t know any more than he did, but he pushed Remy by asking him to think and pay attention and try.

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