All the great chefs I know - Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten - they are technicians first.
I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. 'If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.
My mother likes what I cook, but doesn't think it's French. My wife is Puerto Rican and Cuban, so I eat rice and beans. We have a place in Mexico, but people think I'm the quintessential French chef.
My palate is simpler than it used to be. A young chef adds and adds and adds to the plate. As you get older, you start to take away.
I say: If you don't know how to cook, I'm sure you have at least one friend who knows how to cook. Well, call that friend and say, 'Can I come next time and can I bring some food and can I come an hour or two hours ahead and watch you and help you?'
One of the biggest problems with young chefs is too much addition to the plate. You put cilantro and then tarragon and then olive oil and then walnut oil or whatever. It's too much.