As a cook who cooks at a high level (at least for the area I'm located in),
I like a guy who can stand up for his own talent and abilities. Honestly, and I'll take your word that you cook at a high level for wherever the hell you are.
I'll say this: why care if you've insulted a few B-list chefs (or even the almighty Thomas) if you've got someone like Alain Ducasse in your cornor. And regardless of what he said in the book, the guy can cook, you don't become the Chef de Cuisine of a Ducasse restaurant if you can't cook. From what I've heard about the fine dining restaurant Country (not the cafe), the food is excellent, and it will be successful.
Insulting Keller, Barber, Ducasse or anyone else has very little to do with a person's ability to cook, as angrykoala noticed, but it may speak about a person's character. And we speak of a chef's character in this forum because affects others who may eventually work with or under said chef. I believe Doug can cook. I saw some evidence of this at Mix. Although the food was not subjectively to my taste, it was technically excellent.
By the way, having once been entrusted to run one of Ducasse's restaurants is not at all the same thing as saying he's got Ducasse in his corner. As I recall, when the media went looking for reactions to the book, Ducasse would not comment, and comments issued by his staff were not flattering. It's my opinion that comments made to the press by such staff would have been approved by Ducasse, or not uttered in public. I'm not sure of the point you are trying to make, but I sense you are defending the "memoir' by taking our attention from the book to other aspects of the author. My apologies if I'm not following your arguments here.
While I've admitted that Psaltis can cook, the nature of the negative comments appearing here--I'm reminded of posts by Mimi Sheraton and Ya-Roo Yang--it's my personal guess that he's not always motivated to do his best. Consistency is what will carry a fine restaurant in the end.
Ronnie, one of the things that I've sensed is that over time, Psaltis' presence as executive chef at Country seems to have been downplayed. Even assuming I'm correct in my observation, it would be far to much for me to speculate why, though I suppose that's the kind of thing messages boards promote.
. . . . The restaurant I work for is horribly understaffed, it's impossible to find even somewhat qualified cooks, despite the STACK of resumes we've got. I would be hesitant to call some of these culinary school grads a 'cook' of any kind these days...
So much for the area in which you are cooking.
Anyhow, back to the book. To me, I didn't get a feeling that the book was anything more than 1 cooks story. Didn't sound like he was trying to talk himself up, just sounded like he was telling his story.
Sounds like? What does it sound like when I write? I'm familiar with some of the situations in the book and, to me, it sounded like a vengeful pack of lies.
And finally, I'd like to dispute one of your characteristics of what makes a great chef. No one who works 80+ (thats EIGHTY in case you think its a typo) hours a week, in a 110+ degree kitchen, non-stop all the time for the wages we do, is what I'd consider 'mentally stable'. No, the longer I work in fine dining restaurants, the more I realize good chefs are crazy (I'm not saying I'm not either). Any sane chef would be more than happy to work in a large institution, anonymously, making his 6 figure check working only 50 hours per week.
It's the mentally unstable who go for broke, put their name out there, risk everything for the glory of being the best. Just look at what happened to Bernard Loiseau, yes that's an extreme case but it's certainly not uncommon among the best chefs.
We all thank you for defining "great chef" for us, although I'm not exactly sure that Loiseau's instability or suicide are all we need to look at to understand what makes a great chef.
It may be that sane men choose to spend too much time with family to become "great chefs" in today's society. I'm reminded of Alex Lee, ancien du Daniel,
taking a position at a country club some time ago. I was one of the few who said I'd not be surprised to see him happy spending more time with his kids rather than undertaking a restaurant of his own back in Manhattan. My guess is that he works considerably less than 50 hours a week. I can give you a list of chefs who do brilliant work and are crazy enough to work the 12 hour days, but who are respectful to those who have taught them along the way and who don't fall into the "huge, arrogant, self-serving ass" category mentioned above.
In any event, one needs to separate whatever talents a chef has from what he writes and sells as non-fiction. Being crazy doesn't make you a great chef, nor does it mean your books tell the truth.