I have a friend who vanished. I don't know if he still lives in Illinois or even cooks any more. But he may've been one of the most brilliant chefs I've ever had the opportunity to cook with. His name is James Katos. If anyone knows where he currently hangs his toque, I want to know.
James and I worked together through a few kitchens. His training was extremely classic and technique driven, having been mentored by Bernard Cretier of Le Vichyssois, among other great restaurants. (Check out the website http://levichyssois.com/) My style is more playful & spontaneous, so the two of us approached ingredients differently and then discussed the best way to present them. After a while, we didn't need to talk much.
Now I think of myself as a quick cook, but I *react* more than think really far ahead. James can think 6 steps ahead to my 4, if you can understand what I'm trying to say here. In other words, I learned a lot about time management, technique and focus... just watching Katos working an hour on the line. He is/was that good. Every time I think of menu development, I have to remember working with him.
So James, if you ever read this, I'm sorry if I ever offended you (as to your not returning calls or keeping in touch). I understand we both cooked through some tough times and I've never lost respect for you and your style of cooking. I still remember that night we all got drunk and I kissed a frozen bass out of your freezer (was it me, or was it in a black garbage bag too?).
Anyways, keep kicking ass and give Bernard a call every once in a while. He and his wife miss you too.