A New Kind of English…..And Chef Todd

May 31, 2008 -

John Heald

So there I was happily munching away on a piece of mozzarella, life was good, the soft cheese blended well with the gorgeous little cherry tomatoes and I had a great view of a gorgeous supermodel type who had more plastic than 15 boxes of Tic Tacs and had forgotten to put her skirt on.

Her husband was no help as he was obviously short sighted as he had a watch the size of Big Ben on his wrist ……anyway, I was having a great time when suddenly someone called me fat!

I looked to my left at Jen my mates beautiful girlfriend……I had only met her once before but there I was being told “John, you’re fat”………I was shocked and had to stop myself from inserting a cherry tomato up her nose………however I am glad I didn’t because Jen obviously saw the look of horror on my face and immediately apologized and explained as follows.

Apparently the word fat means that you are “good or great” and is spelled “phat” …….and is part of a new urban English that is more difficult to understand than Mandarin Chinese, Swahili or

Lets start with Phat which Jen and Butch (his nickname) explained was a very complimentary word.

So, I could say “Dwyane Wade……he is a Phat basketball player”
……..or ….”P Daddy’s music is Phat”…….or……”My wife has a Phat bottom”……..ok, maybe not that one……..anyway, you get the idea.

So, following on from that I wanted to learn more so I asked Jen and Butchy to tell me more…….here is what I learned.

Dirty…………..calling someone dirty used to mean that they were unwashed, smelled of rotten fish and had never had a serious relationship with a bar of soap…..usually the word would be used as follows “Jean Pierre, you and your brother Claude are dirty.”

Not anymore, the word dirty now means something similar to Phat……you could say “Dwyane Wade is a Phat basketball player” and someone would reply….”Yea, he’s dirty.”

Or

“P Daddy’s music is Phat”……and the correct reply is apparently “Yea, he’s dirty my dog.”

Or

“My wife’s. Bottom is Phat” and the reply is “Yea, in those jeans she looks dirty”………ok, maybe not that one but you get my drift.

Finally, there is the word Cougar which used to be a sleek and toned wild cat built for speed and being known as a ferocious hunter.

However, this poor creature’s name is now used for something very different yet something similar as well.

If you go to a bar or club full of dirty and phat young people and amongst them all you see an older lady sitting on a bar stool doing her Sharon Stone impression when she crosses her legs ……this is a cougar……..and although not built for speed anymore she is certainly still a hunter.

If like me you still are gobsmacked by this new street language then Jen and Butchskins told me of a wondrous place where we can learn this new language of the streets and hang with the house boys…..or is it home boys……….anyway check out www.urbandictionary.com and hopefully if you have kids this tool will enable you to understand what the hell they are saying.

Outside of learning a new language I also enjoyed a fantastic meal at Villa Verde. The place was very busy yet the service and the food were impeccable. We started with mozzarella, tomato and proscuito. Then came the best pizza bread you will ever taste and then just when you feel like your trousers will burst with such ferocity that it will take someone’s eye out along comes the fish…….let me tell you the fish did not die in vain……he or she was delicious.

Italy is an extraordinary place and one of the few places in the world where it’s normal to eat dinner as late as 11 pm and last night as we left at 11:10 pm people were still coming in to eat. We had a wonderful dinner with the Packers and the Bees and even though none of us are Italian it felt like we were a real Italian family sitting around the table enjoying Phat food, dirty conversation and watching a herd of Cougars on the hunt.

One last note. This morning while I was waiting for Adolfo to collect us from the cafe where we were waiting I received the call to duty and therefore another toilet warning for all you visitors to this beautiful isle.

The cafe Gallo D’Oro has wonderful coffee but for some reason they decided to build the toilet bowl 4 inches from the door. This is ok if you are a 7 or a pixie but I had no choice but to deposit 3 slices of proscuitto and a sea bass with the door half open and my legs sticking out……….You have been warned!

Now, as promised here is an interview with a very talented and some would say very handsome young Chef. As you will discover he has restaurants not only on land but also a very special relationship with Cunard.

Here then is award winning Chef Todd English.

1. Men like myself are scared of even entering a kitchen. I wonder if we could start by you telling our 2 million readers when and how your love of cooking and creating culinary masterpieces first began.

I started to fall in love with cooking in my mother’s kitchen when I was little. My mother and grandmother used to make huge Italian Sunday Suppers for the family that would be an all-day event. My mother also had a catering company and I would love to help her with that. Being in the kitchen reminds me of home and family.

2. Can you tell us about your early career and some of the trials and tribulations that got you to where you are today?

I first entered the doors of a professional kitchen when I was 15 where I worked odd jobs at a local restaurant. It taught me how to perform every task in the restaurant and it showed me how important every staff member is- no matter how big or small the job. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and trained with Jean Jacques Rachou at New York’s La Cote Basque. After that I went to Italy where I apprenticed at the Dal Pescatore in Canto Sull O’lio and Paraccuchi in Locando D’Angello. Both experiences really showed me the level of commitment needed to be successful in the restaurant industry.

3. Can you tell us about your land based restaurants?

My land-based restaurants are all like children to me. Each one has its own personality, but you can tell they are all part of the same family. We keep the same qualities for each of them- this means the cuisine, atmosphere, service, and professionalism are all uniform. Also, there are hints of Mediterranean dishes at all of the restaurants- some more subtle than others. There are a few concepts we have now- Olives, Figs and Tuscany are all Mediterranean, Bonfire and Beso have South American and Spanish influences with a hint of Mediterranean, and the seafood concepts are Fish Club, Blue Zoo and Kingfish Hall.

4. I was lucky enough to dine in your restaurant aboard the Cunard ocean liner Queen Victoria and apart from my mum’s Spotted Dick, it was quite simply the best meal I have ever enjoyed. How did your relationship with Cunard start and did you have to change your style to allow for cooking, preparation and service while at sea?

The Todd English Restaurant on the Queen Mary II has a lot of the same Mediterranean flavors found in an Olives location. Something that we have to take into consideration with being on a cruise ship is finding out what fresh ingredients are available at each port and planning our menu to coincide with the food indigenous to each place.

5. When you create a new dish, how does this happen and who do you use to taste test these new dishes?

I create new dishes by finding interesting ingredients in my travels and trying to put a different spin on traditional techniques. Who I use to taste test my food depends on where I am creating new dishes. If at home, it could be my children, or family or friends. In one of my restaurants, it could be my trusted culinary staff.

6. Can you tell us your current favourite top 3 appetisers, main courses and deserts from your land based and ocean based restaurants?

I love the tuna tartare in all of my restaurants. It is a great item that my guests also enjoy. I love the tortelli at Olives because that is my signature main dish and it reminds me of when I first started Olives. For dessert, it is hard to pick one favorite because all desserts are great.

7. You were once voted in the top 100 of America’s most handsome men. Now, considering most Chefs look like the have run a 100 yard sprint in a 90 yard gym and eaten all the pies, how is it that you according to my wife are so good looking, especially as you are surrounded by all that wonderful food?

I work out a lot and I run. It helps with the stress as much as it helps with staying in shape.

8. Do you cook at home and if so, do you have a simple recipe that we can all try?

I love to cook for friends and family. I love to do a quick Spaghetti with broccoli rabe tossed with garlic and pancetta.

9. The age of the Celebrity Chef is definitely here and thanks to people like yourself, cooking has become a passion for many people. Who are some of your favourite Chefs and do you swear as much as my mate Gordon Ramsey when a Sous Chef overcooks the salmon?

Some of my favorite chefs include Jasper White and Julia Child. I think that there is a lot of swearing that goes on in restaurant kitchens, but Gordon has made it an art.

10. Finally, if you were to cook for 6 well known people, could you tell us who they would be by filling in the blanks below?

– Someone from the world of politics.

– Someone from the cruise industry.

– Someone to make you laugh.

– Someone from the world of sports.

– Someone from history who you just want to cook for.

– Someone of great beauty.

I would invite Louis the 14th, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Jefferson and Angelina Jolie. Louis the 14th was influential in creating gourmet cuisine, Marie Antoinette was a very interesting woman, Thomas Jefferson was a great American, and Angelina Jolie is easy on the eyes. I would also invite Lance Armstrong because his athletic ability amazes me and Edie Bornstein from the cruise industry because she appreciates great food and great company.

Thank you Chef. I am sure many of you will now want to eat at one of his establishments and if you do please write and tell us what you chose from his brilliant menu………oh, mention my name and that you saw this interview on my blog and you will receive a free glass of………water.

This morning we woke to find our host Mrs. Totti had been working hard in the kitchen and prepared gorgeous scrambled eggs and fruit. I ignored the muffins that Mrs. T had baked earlier that morning as I continue to warm up for my diet.

Today we are going to Sorrento and then tomorrow onboard the AIDA ship for my first ever look at our German sister.

Here is an e mail I wanted to share with all of you……..its from a regular blog reader James Gundy and he has given permission for me to share this posting with all of you.

Hello John
I have never sent in a comment before but I have been a loyal fan since I discovered your hilarious blog in January and since then I have read every one you write.

The laughs you bring me make my day easier.
On Monday June 2 I will have to stop reading as I start a 5 month tour of duty with the USN. I am a submariner and will only have periodic internet access.

I will catch up when I can and have asked my wife to print each blog and mail them to me so I can read them. Please keep writing and when I return my wife and I will plan a cruise with you

As you would say, cheers
James Gundy
Ops Spec USN

James, I am sure we all join together in congratulating you on your proud service and wish you and the crew a safe deployment.

I know nothing about the submarine service except that it is I am sure one fraught with difficulties and tribulations. However, I think that if I was to join the armed services then it would be as a submariner. The infantry involves too much running around, lying in mud, pooing in a ditch and getting shot at while you are doing it. However, I can imagine myself as a Submarine Captain and if the world got a little too dangerous I could park the sub under a tropical island where it could not be seen by a satellite and spend the war drinking Mai Tai’s with my new girlfriend Moo Moo. Then, when the trouble was over I would sail home and say my sun tan was due to the reactor getting a little hot.

Of course, if I did join the submarine service it would be as an enlisted man and that means sharing a bunk with 3 other men and I haven’t done that since an experiment with my mates Tim and Carl when we were 14…………….kidding of course……………………..we were 23.

Seriously, I have always loved submarines and any movie that involves one is bound to be on my favorite list.

The Hunt for Red October
Das Boot
Crimson Tide

I love the sneakiness of a submarine. The fact that you can creep up on the target, blow it to kingdom come and sneak away just in time for tea and biscuits…………..and it’s a job you can do sitting down.
Mostly though my love of submarines came from seeing a clip on the news. It showed the submarine rising silently out of the water and suddenly there it was………..this incredible machine filled with brave men and women who were they, silent and waiting, ready to protect us all.

I feel very proud that you enjoy the blog mate and today this one is dedicated to you…………we salute you and thank you for keeping us safe as you run silent and run deep.

Goodnight
From your friends John, Heidi and Operations Specialist James Gundy USN

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.