It was almost like old times last week for Simon F. Cooper, president and chief operating officer of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, when he played host at an event for travel agents at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York.
Simon F. Cooper, left, started out doing dishes in 1971, but now is president of a hotel chain.
Preparing an elaborate three-course dinner with the agents and hotel managers — under the tutelage of the institute's instructors — Mr. Cooper, who was born in Britain, reminisced about his first hotel job in North America. It was at the Chateau Champlain in Montreal in 1971. "I wasn't a cook," he said. "I was lower than a cook. I had to clean pots and pans."
Mr. Cooper has progressed in the business world and in the kitchen — somewhat. Barbecuing at his home in McLean, Va., is now his main culinary endeavor, with butterflied lamb being his specialty. "I get thrown out of the kitchen by my wife, Marcelle," he said. "I'm very messy."
She does give him "special dispensation," he added, to make another specialty, bouillabaisse, "as long as I clean up things as I prep. I only use one pot." JANE L. LEVERE