I don't even remember when I did it first time, but it must be well before San Diego (our lives are divided into before and after San Diego). I tasted my first lobster thermidor in Spain in January 1988, just after I had submitted my PhD and needed a break. So somewhere between then and 1999 I took the challenge and tried to cook a thermidor in my own kitchen. I have since then tried to do it after a recipe from the net - a waste of time. You must find a recipe from a good French cookbook and let it take the time it takes. Once you've tried it you will never accept any shortcuts.
It does take a long time because you have to make all the steps in right order and exactly the way it is described. You cannot just put everything in a sausepan and mix. Well, you can, and that's what a recipe from the net will tell you to do. But the result will be accordingly. In San Diego, for Anton's birthday we took him for thermidor to a fish restaurant someone had recommended. Anton said my lobster was better, and he was right. I know you are not supposed to say so, but I have never had a lobster anywhere that was better than the one I make for every New Year Eve. Admittedly, it is different each New Year Eve, because I can never do it exactly the same.
When Anton stayed on in San Diego and I went to see him over Christmas, he asked me to cook my famous lobster for him and his foster family. He also invited some friends, so it was tons of lobster, and although cooking the sauce takes the same time whether you have one lobster or twelve, it's more time-consuming to take out the meat and press the red and the green through a sieve if you have twelve. Anton helped me, but it was in somebody else's kitchen, and I didn't know where things were and whether there was a pinch of this and that available that I would have had in my own kitchen. In the end it turned out that Anton's family wasn't at all fond of lobster, but one of his friends was. I will remember her forever. She made it worth while.
Anyway, I have prepared my at least fifteenth lobster thermidor, and it takes me less time each year not because I cheat but because I learn. But, as I say, no shortcuts. If the French cookbook says boil for five minutes and stir, this is what you do.