The Seasoning of a Chef: My Journey from Diner to Ducasse and Beyond
The fascinating diner-to-Ducasse true story of a young New Yorker's meteoric rise from his grandfather's Greek diner in Queens to the kitchens of some of the world's greatest restaurants.
Meet the man Alain Ducasse called “the best cook in my kitchen”—Doug Psaltis, a culinary Horatio Alger, whose stubborn passion for perfection and dogged idealism propelled him from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of the food world. Doug began working at his grandfather's diner in Jamaica, Queens, when he was just ten years old—barely big enough to haul a sack of potatoes. His next real restaurant job, following a brief stint in college and some time spent in Colorado kitchens, was in Huntington, Long Island, his hometown. Drivingly ambitious and hardworking, he would travel into Manhattan on his days off to work, often for twelve hours or more without pay, in some of New York’s premiere restaurants.
He eventually was offered a regular job at David Bouley's new restaurant, Bouley Bakery, where he worked six days a week with double shifts at one of New York’s hottest and most acclaimed restaurants, often leaving the house before dawn and returning home to grab a couple of hours of sleep before taking the train back into the city. From there he went to Alain Ducasse New York, which eventually won four stars from the New York Times. Doug caught Ducasse's eye and was selected as the first American chef in the Ducasse empire and the chef to lead the next Ducasse restaurant in New York, Mix. Running the kitchen of Mix was both a dream job and a formidable challenge. Doug guided the restaurant through many crises in the face of mounting pressure and tension from all sides—before an explosive conclusion. After leaving Mix, Doug was offered a job working for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, arguably America's restaurant mecca, where he helped lead the kitchen with Keller. Today, just past thirty, he is starting a whole new chapter in a remarkable career—a seasoned chef at last.
Filled with rampant egos, cutthroat kitchen politics, and settings ranging from Monte Carlo to Paris and Napa Valley, The Seasoning of a Chef is a real and rare glimpse into the food industry. More than anyone until now, Doug Psaltis reveals vividly and honestly the hardships, sacrifices, and dreams of glory that are all part of becoming a great chef.