Rosalyn Ediger | 17 Jan 2017
I just finished reading Billy Gallagher's autobiography: Lettuce and a Lady's Breast. All of the young chefs who attended the congress last fall received it as a gift. I had it on my bookshelf in between Grant Achatz's Life, On the Line and Martin Picard's Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack and I asked myself, "How come I haven't read the book yet?" I heard so many outstanding things about Chef Gallagher, especially at the latest World Chefs Congress in Thessaloniki. I never had the honor of meeting the great chef. I kept hearing his name and listened to everyone when they described who founded the World Chefs Young Chefs Club. I remember seeing his name at every international cooking event that I attended. I would have even been able to pick out his photo in a chef line-up. This was all good and positive but until I finally read his autobiography, I wouldn't fully understand his absolute drive to learn, to teach, to challenge himself and others.
Chef Gallagher's determination to simply be a decent human being seems far beyond that of most people. In fact, it may not have even been his intention to set such a grand example of humanitarianism for others. It just continued to appear through his sincere actions and honest treatment of others. The way that he continuously bridged so many cultures is one of the greatest abilities that chefs have and Billy Gallagher embodied that. He did not do those things to prove a point, he did them because that was just his unwavering outlook on life. After being shot in the neck by someone who wanted to steal his car he, understandably, held much anger towards that person, yet he moved upward and onward with his quest to help others and bring them new opportunities. He never stopped. He solved problems and found ways to accomplish his goals.
The list of admirable traits goes on and on. His life story quickly moves from one incredible event to another and from one interaction with an influential person to another. In a way, his story unfolds like that of Forrest Gump. How could one person have been a part of so many historical and memorable events in one lifetime? Regardless of the fame and recognition, Chef Gallagher comes across as humble and extremely likable. I guess that he never forgot where it all started. Peppered through the entire book is gratitude for his success and for all those that made it possible. His mistakes and naïveté (at times) are rather charming. He lovingly admits to his shortcomings, or what he perceives to be his shortcomings. After his embarrassments, he clearly learns from each experience and carries that knowledge with him as he pushes himself to the next challenge.
For all of you young chefs who received a copy of the book from our generous hosts, pick it up, read it and appreciate that Billy Gallagher is bringing us all together in different ways.
Rosalyn Eidger is a Young Chefs Ambassador Mentor of Worldchefs, who is based in Canada.