I don’t get a chance to write too many feature stories for the magazine, so I pick the ones I do based on how much fun I will have doing them. And the September story about neighborhood chefs was tremendous fun.

Those of us who cook (and, come to think of it, those of us who don’t) assume chefs are larger than life, cooking superstars who never make a mistake and who can whip up a cream sauce in less time than it takes everyone else to open a can of soup.

Which is about as far from the truth as possible. If Tony Romo throws interceptions, then chefs –- even the biggest and best known –– do the culinary equivalent. This month’s magazine details East Dallas and Lakewood chefs (Blythe Beck of Hector’s on Henderson was a hoot), but I talked to chefs throughout Dallas, including some of the most famous. And all of them had great accident stories to tell:

• Preston Hollow’s Kent Rathbun, who is about as famous as Dallas chefs get, told me he ruined an entire pan of barbecue chicken: "I left it in the broiler too long and completely burned it."

• Matthew Smith, a chef instructor at the Cordon Bleu who lives in Far North Dallas, did not do blackened salmon very well. "My apartment looked like Cheech and Chong’s van," he said, "so smoky you could not see five feet in front of you." Oddly, a lot of chefs had blackened fish stories tell.

• Brian Luscher, the Lake Highlands resident who is the chef and co-owner The Grape on lower Greenville, tried to replace the cook top in his home kitchen. He did such a good job that he ended up burning part of the cook top.

• Oak Cliff’s Susie Buck, who owns the well-regarded caterer Susie’s Cuisine, tried to fry a turkey, but "I over-cooked the hell out of the first one, not realizing how fast they cooked," she said. "I finally figured it out, but wasted a really good bird."


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