From his earliest recollection author Bill Stephens felt the pull of the kitchen and dining table. Not just the need for sustenance we all experience at mealtime, but something more spiritual. Something magical and creative. In the kitchen, ingredients were gathered, and, with a kitchen spoon for a magic wand, his mother or grandmother combined these into savory creations with aromas and flavors that tasted wonderful while providing heart-warming comfort. The kitchen was the sanctuary against all that assailed and challenged the family members, especially a young boy. Life’s disappointments dissolved into good humor and love at the dinner table.
This early connection between hearth and happiness led him from his first cooking experience at age six into a journey through every phase of food service. Finally, into writing journalistically the stories that illustrate how good food and great wine feed not only our bodies, but our minds and our souls – nurturing love and fellowship, providing us spontaneity, creativity, and adventure, comforting us during sorrowful times and helping us rejoice and celebrate happy ones.
Uncorking and Forking: It’s Been a Good Life is an epicurean memoir that begins where best selling Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and George Lang’s Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen leave off. It is the good-humored excursion of food and wine writer Bill Stephens through all things culinary: from gourmand, to passionate amateur cook who felt recipes stifled kitchen creativity; to chef; to restaurateur; to catering; to employee feeding; to fine dining; to restaurant designing and consulting.
For four decades, he owned and operated food service operations serving princes, popes, and politicians as well as the people, written over 1000 columns for Texas’s largest newspapers, and contributed to such publications as Wine Enthusiast, Wine News, and Wine Spectator. Now is the time to share the philosophy and wisdom that Bill has acquired on his long journey as both a food lover and writer.
About The Author
Bill Stephens started My Place Restaurant in1972, and his food service empire grew to include a leading San Antonio, Texas, white tablecloth restaurant, three airline in-flight kitchens, three employee feeding facilities. He catered a dinner train, and his company was the third largest off-premise caterer in South Texas. His notable catering clients included Texas governors, presidential candidates, the family of the King of Saudi Arabia, The Prince of Wales, Pope John Paul II, Tom Jones, Neal Diamond, Willie Nelson, and many others
During these three decades he wrote over 1,000 weekly food and wine columns for Harte-Hanks, Murdoch, and Hearst newspapers. His features appeared in Wine News, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, Food & Wine, Chef, and Field & Stream. His short story, “The Decanter- A Christmas Story,” is the only fiction ever published in The Wine News. Texas A&M University recently published his short story, “Toby Tire and His Erratic Curve Ball” in their English Department “Big Tex(t)” Ezine. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with Kay, his wife, and is the principal in Bill Stephens Associates Restaurant Consultants (www.billstephensassociates.com).
Uncorking and Forking: It’s Been A Good Life
Selected Chapter Outline
Page Count – 250 to 300 pages
Chapter 2 – The Big Surprise Cake Recovery – My culinary career is interrupted for a decade
Chapter 4 – You killed it. You cook it – At sixteen I am allowed back in the kitchen to cook wild ducks
A Baptist Boy Goes to College
Chapter 8 – A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine, and a Skoda – Driving and camping around Europe
Chapter 11 – Starving in Itzeho’s Krankenanstalten – Second Class Patient food is inedible.
Marriage – Culinary Boot Camp
Chapter 14 – The Big Leap From Liebfraumilch to Beaujolais – Our $1.14/ bottle weekly luxury
Chapter 16 – La Bohème and “Daddy Will You Please Come Back Home?” — Splitting the sheets
Lifting Pot Lids Around the World
Chapter 18 – The South American Shuffle – Traveling Latin America and learning to cook.
Chapter 21 – I’ll Cry for You Argentina – Your wine’s great, but where’s the beef
Chapter 23 – Breakfast at Marshal Tito’s – I am feted at breakfast at Yogoslavia’s Mratinie Dam
Chapter 25 – Good Fortune (Cookies) — Fortune cookies change my life.
I’ve Always Wanted a Restaurant
Chapter 26 – I’ve always wanted a restaurant – Where Does This Insanity Originate?
Chapter 28 – Peanut butter for the Prince – The heir to the throne flies away with peanut butter and jelly.
Chapter 29 – No Pork for the Saudi King, but Why Not Some Goat – Lamb, goat, whatever.
Chapter 31 – The Unending Saga of the Pope Train – The faithful suffer for their sins.
Chapter 33 – A Hog’s Breath From Clint – Movies mess up my mind at the Hog’s Breath Inn
Chapter 36 – “I Have No Friends and Nobody Loves Me” –
Introducing fine wine to the hunting camp
Chapter 37 – What Wine Goes Best With Red Man Chewing Tobacco?
A Tequila for My Buddy and One more for the Road
Chapter 39– Vamanos a Mexico! 12,000 miles, hundreds of meals and lots of tequila below the border.
Chapter 40 – Don Julio, He is a friend of Mine – Tequila Don Julio, and the phrase, “Give ‘em a hunnert,”is born
Chapter 43 – The Great Shrimp Boat Blockade –“Yertle the Turtle” focuses on a dilemma
Writing About Food and Wine is More Fun, Right?
Chapter 45 – Why Have My Clothes Shrunk? – My clothes begin shrinking as a food and wine writer
Chapter 47 – Escape from Malaga –Take us “where the seafood is great and no one speaks English.”
Chapter 52 – Christmas Under the Bridge – Christmas returns with The Cordon Blues Brothers
Chapter 54 – Pussy Was a Gourmet – A gourmet cat deserves a special tribute
Why Do So Many Great People Make Wine and So Many Assholes Drink It?
Chapter 56 – “Winespeak” and Other Crimes Against Society,
Chapter 59 – The Order of Original Zin – Chanting for the return of red Zinfandel
Chapter 60 – A Flower Blooms in Gallo’s Vineyard – My unrequited “love affair” with Gina Gallo
From The Ending to the Beginning
Chapter 62 – A Window Toward Tomorrow — A new life doing exactly what I’ve always wanted – to write.