Since college, though, Aidells had treated cooking as more than a hobby, burning first through a roommate’s James Beard cookbook, then through the entire Foods of the World series, which, in the comprehensive spirit of all Time-Life collections, stretched to 27 volumes. His sausage-making started in earnest while on a National Institute of Health fellowship in London. Aidells, who’s described British bangers as tasting of “sawdust, salt and grease”, found himself going through “sausage deprivation.” To cure his condition, he purchased an electric grinder and, in his presumably dreary flat (aren’t all flats “dreary”?), stuffed his own stuff, getting hooked on the process almost immediately.
Back in the States, Aidells career came to a crossroads when the lab he was working at lost its funding. Fortuitously, right around this time the owner of Berkeley’s now-legendary Poulet -- herself a graduate student -- offered him a job as opening chef despite his having no professional kitchen experience. “I put in 13 years of my life getting an education; it was hard to step back from that and do something different,” says Aidells. “On the other hand, did I really want to relocate to Kansas to continue cancer research?”