Thursday, January 06, 2005

Integrity Where Art Thou?

I'm back fuckers and I've got more than a chip on my shoulder. I'm pissed about the lack of integrity in our business. I'm pissed about chefs who slap their name on pieces of shit to sell to the public and rip them off. It's the same thing as cooking a dish with no care and garnishing the hell out of it because you don't care. You expose and sell the public the wrong understanding of what we do. You are a bigger detriment to our struggle than a thousand Applebee's. Maybe I'm the minority, but if my name or reputation( my cooking reputation) is associated with a particular item, this item has got to be the best I can muster. It had better be right. It's principle only. You all certainly can figure out a few of who I'm talking about.
Let's look at a couple... two bad and two good.

BAM! is a bad one. Of course this wacky character even sells toothpaste now. He'll sell anything. ANYTHING! Let's take the Emeril knives as an example. First off, they're the bottom of the line stamped Wusthof. They suck. Touted as being the knives Emeril uses. No they aren't. No chef worth a shit would use these. Period. Rip off a gullible public though..that's important. His cookbooks are even worse, few recipes even work in them. I have mixed feelings about this guy a lot because he has actually raised the publics awareness of cooking. Unfortunately, he instructs them to think even less about cooking than they already do. Besides that, anyone who puts cheese and salami in a panzanella should be executed immediately! Fucking integrityless lilly guilders!.

Jamie Oliver is another one. Don't you just wanna rip this guys face off? He's a chef! He's a rocker! He's young and hip! No. He's a pud. I picked up a piece of his cookware and the rubber handle liner fell off. A rubber insert for comfort. What's the first thing we do in a kitchen when we get a few new pans? Throw that fucking rubber handle cover away. To be fair, this was a year or so ago and the new stuff is just a plain handle. But whatever, this site is all about hair splitting. I'd like to kick the shit out of this Cockney cocksucker!

( besides everything else, do we really need another celebrity spice mix?)

Now the good..

Wolfgang Puck. The $400 million dollar chef. You'ld think he would be first on my list. Nope. Why? Because like him or hate him, he has integrity. His food in his restaurants is always good. His frozen pizzas are actually good(for frozen pizza) and the cookware is solid and well made. His mixer is built like a tank. He's never lost sight of the fact that quality is what it's all about. He is, and always will be a cook first.

Daniel Boulud- No great line of spices...sauces or whatever. Two. A smoked salmon that is like eating smoky silk and knives that are extremely well made, forged beauties. I seem to recall him having some caviars also but I might be wrong. It doesn't matter. If he did, it was perfection to be sure.

Emeril selling toothpaste. Rick Bayless promoting Burger King. Although I can't blame them for their pursuit of a buck, I have to wonder if the people even know what the true responsibility of our profession is.













119 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This integrity issue also reaches those of us who are not in the food business but are learning how to put a nice meal on the table for family and friends. The bombardment of endorsements from the food "stars" and the emphasis on gadgets and machines detracts the novice home cook from learning and applying the basics that you pros rely on; making a proper stock, choosing good ingredients, not heating the bejeebers out of a roast, etc. It might not make for slick TV viewing but a lesson on making and storing a decent stock would be a lot more helpful than almost anything else they can say. -Bob G.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This integrity issue also reaches those of us who are not in the food business but are learning how to put a nice meal on the table for family and friends. The bombardment of endorsements from the food "stars" and the emphasis on gadgets and machines detracts the novice home cook from learning and applying the basics that you pros rely on; making a proper stock, choosing good ingredients, not heating the bejeebers out of a roast, etc. It might not make for slick TV viewing but a lesson on making and storing a decent stock would be a lot more helpful than almost anything else they can say. -Bob G.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can virtually bitchslap Jamie Oliver here:

http://www.urban75.com/Punch/oliver.html

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob G is 100% correct. " It's not rocket science" is my favorite ridiculous statement. Of course it isn't, it's culinary science. For any "chef", anywhere, to tell home cooks to not worry so much about techniques, recipes and the like is 100% pure bullshit. Do you think these chefs tell their cooks this? Cooking at home is the same ( not the same intensity, volume or level) but in principle. You must learn the basics before you can cook freely and easily.

In fact, I'm considering putting together a show that does just that. Teaches people how to cook. No clownish idiocy, just..how to think and cook. I originally wanted to do a metal cooking show where we take all the pretty pretense out of what's being touted as cooking, show basic techniques and what the home cook needs to learn. Also have members of rock/metal bands on to share recipes. The polar opposite of what most cooking shows are about today.

A.C.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see why Jamie pisses people off. Probably jealousy.
But he never set out to be a celeb - it happened by chance for him.
I've met him, and his personality and kindness and the fact he is genuine shines through. He uses his personality and popularity to do a lot of good in the world. I don't think its just for publicity. he cares. How many chefs would go and spend so much time in a school in South London to try and improve the diets of british school children?
Of course he is making money. Bt he is giving back to society too.
I think he is alright

11:15 PM  
Blogger Windtalker said...

Hola, Chef! Please allow me to first say THANK YOU, for this 'crazy but real' blog you've got going here - truly makes my day to the max (since I've accidentally been led to your blog about 3 days ago, again thanks to that keyword TOQUE on your blogname :-)

I’ve been with the hotel/resort/convention industry since 1992 handling marketing and PR for the various properties I was connected with. I could say I’ve had my share of that usual love-hate relationship with the F&B people, most especially the Exec Chefs due to the nature of work we all do in respect to the roles we had to play in the organization. Fortunately, the professional relationships built with the Chefs I’ve worked with were far more positive than negative and somehow I’ve managed to understand where you guys are coming from. Anyways, before I digress, let me get on with the real reason for my post - I sure do agree with you that there are chefs who are simply there for “press release” purposes and there are those who are indeed, THE “working chefs”.

The first time I’ve seen Emeril (through his cooking show), I felt so disgusted. I continued to watch his shows (and boy, what a torture), simply because I wanted to validate my initial perception that he is really the perfect example of that all talk-no substance chef I’ve seen and had the misfortune to be working with in the past. Now, just the sight of him or the mere sound of his voice as I surf the channels, I completely get irritated in an instant – he’s not only wacky, methinks he’s a total fluke!

Now Wolfgang Puck is, in my humble opinion, The Chef! If there’s anyone from your department I would want to meet personally, it will have to be him. You’re right - this guy exudes integrity of your profession. (However, after reading all your posts, I have so decided that I will also be most honored and privileged if I would get the chance to meet you in this lifetime :-)

I am from the Philippines, where people (as a tradition), will celebrate anything as an excuse to prepare and host banquets or feasts. We generally love to cook and eat, and are very susceptible to various culinary influences however foreign – it would be a blast to see you have your own show where you would teach people how to really cook, as what you’ve mentioned in one of your previous posts.

God Bless and Mabuhay!

(ps: sorry for the long comment Chef, I didn’t intend to waste too much of your blog space, couldn’t help but get carried away…I love your posts, couldn’t wait for your next “bitch or praise” actually :-)

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie Oliver could shave all his hair off and knit sweaters out of it for poor, freezing babies and I would still like to smash his teeth in. It really has nothing to do with jealousy or petty resentment. It has to do with hating him.

A.C

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Jamie Oliver:

OK, I can see why this scooter driving little metro would drive you nuts - he's got that fist magnet quality about him like Pip on South Park.

But he isn't Cockney. He's from Essex. That's like suggesting someone grew up in da tough pawt awv Brooklyn, whereas the guy actually grew up in Connecticut.

I thought his New York hosts showed CONSIDERABLE restraint in not shoeing his teeth in for daring to squeeze a cherry tomato on a piece of pita bread, shave a curl of parmaggiano reggiano on it, garnish it with a sprig of something nouvelle cuisiney and call it pizza.
Dude, when you come from a land in which they boil sandwiches, don't try and tell New Yorkers how to make pizza.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't think of an insult that rhymed with Essex.

A.C.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AC said:
But he isn't Cockney. He's from Essex. That's like suggesting someone grew up in da tough pawt awv Brooklyn, whereas the guy actually grew up in Connecticut.

Actually, that's shit from someone who wants to bitch to make himself sound clever, but doesn't actually know what he's talking about.

I was born in Essex, and now live in the East End of London. It's about a half hour drive from my front door to Essex if you know how to push the lights. About forty if you don't.

True Cockney, like the way my Dad used to talk, is rich like a pint of bitter, without a single dropped 'H' , or an 'F' instead of a 'TH'. Essex accent is a variation of this, and it sounds like Jamie Oliver. Agreed, he tries hard to be common, yet his parents owned a pub, which is high society in the Essex stakes.

Regardless of all this unforgivable stuff, he still is helping underprivileged kids in the area, and is making a stand for real eating, post our truly lower class American infection of fast food and stupid diets.

I also own a house in France, and I am astonished at the level of snobbery warded by Americans about food, when good eating is simply a way of life there. You are so starved of good food, any one of you that discovers it acts like you are some kind of Chosen One, separate from the rest of society.

So, from the sublime, (France) to the ridiculous (an American Chef acting like he knows about the regional value of English Chefs)I'll say simply this: I liked Poppy's books. She lead me here. But lay off our English masters' of cooking who trained with the Roux Brothers.

Nuff said,
Clare

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Clare, that's MORE than enough said. English food is a tragedy , although in the last 10-15 years a small handful of English chefs have actually produced great stuff.. Of course, most American chef's will simply humiliate most Limeys. Yes, there still are some sublime French restaurants although they are rapidly being trampled by Spain and have been for the last decade. I really don't give a fuck if he's from Essex, York, Manchester or any other damp, dreary place. What's truly funny is someone so clueless as to what's going on in food, they have to split hairs to attempt to make a point. Fuck Jaime Oliver!

And I appreciate you thinking I'm clever, I just vent about the business.

Oh well, mad dogs and Englishmen

A.C.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Actually, that's shit from someone who wants to bitch to make himself sound clever, but doesn't actually know what he's talking about.

Oh, I'm sorry. Here I was understanding what everyone else understands as Cockney. I leave it to your superior, "I own a house in Frawnce too you know" self to set me straight. I didn't realise Essex was where the TROO Cockneys were from. Cockney: of or pertaining to Essex. Yup. Sorry I didn't get that straight, being of the Mancunian diaspora and therefore genetically unable to think. Can you please explain what a "lager dash" is to me as well? Sounds like Shandy to me, and I wouldn't drink either, cause I'm not soft and Southern.

RE: I was born in Essex, and now live in the East End of London.

Mr. Oliver! How good of you to join us here.

RE: It's about a half hour drive from my front door to Essex if you know how to push the lights. About forty if you don't.

So you know the geography. Does that somehow invalidate my point?

RE: Agreed, he tries hard to be common, yet his parents owned a pub, which is high society in the Essex stakes.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeees. And most Cockneys I know would take grave offense to have their culture confused with some nine-stone drink of water with highlighted hair, whose parents owned a pub, in Essex don't you know....

Let me guess. True Mancy dialect sounds like your Liverpudlian grandfather, and therefore there's no confusion or problem with calling the Scouse git a Mancunian.

And you say I need my bumps felt?

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...Thanks guv!

Didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!


A.C.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said: Oh, I'm sorry. Here I was understanding what everyone else understands as Cockney.

Not my point. My point was to correct your inflated drivel claiming that Jamie Oliver's accent was fake, and he didnt really come from a place where they talk like that. It was also to correct your ludicrous doubly inaccurate claim that he has lied about where he was born, and its actual proximity to London is a similar distance from New York to ...where was it? I noticed you have edited your post. When it fact it is a forty minute at worst drive.

Can I also inform you that Jamie Oliver has never called himself a Cockney, nor is he - he'd have to be born within the sound of Bow bells for that. He calls himself an 'Essex Boy'. Yep, It's pretty awful to rejoice in such a thing, and to maintain that title post your 21 st birthday and your first £million, but he does. So perhaps you'd also like to edit calling Jamie Oliver a Cockney too, because this is also wrong. In fact, all of what you say simply seems to be bitchy nonsense.

And, yes, I think that invalidates your point.

By the way, I actually cannot abide Essex. I left the place in disgust at a very young age. It's amazing how far a baby can crawl when she knows there's a "house in Frawnce, don't you know" waiting for her.

And yes, English food for the most part is appalling, as is American food for the most part. However, if you took a little look at the dimensions of the countries that you clearly have so much trouble with already, you'd see that mile for mile we have more good food in England, and it's very easy to get to.

But generally, just like Americans, English people live on tasteless packaged foods and horrendous atrocities from American fast food joints. That said, unlike you, Jamie Oliver doesnt waste his energy disappearing up his own arsehole about how lean mean and baaaad it is to be a Chef, living some grossly distorted charicature of what that is; instead, he actively works at informing and teaching people how to appreciate, enjoy and cook good food. Yes, he's allowed his publicity people to presnt him as the Essex Boy image; but behind that he isn't an inflated bag of air riddled with poisonous gas that he belches out at his contemporaries, as you are. No. He puts his money where his mouth is. He uses his popularity to promote good food. He takes chances on underpriviledged youngsters and invests time and money in their training. He like...you know..does, umm, good things? Uhhhh...helps people? Are you familiar with any of these terms?

I'm sureyou are aware that food is energy, being that you're such a super spiffy chef and all. Because it's energy it is affected by the energy of those who prepare it. On that basis, and despite you being soooo oooh sooo motherfucking good at cooking, better than anyone, especially the English, I'm surprised that your customers at your 'Upmarket' restaurant -- those that can afford to eat there-- don't collapse on the foor clawing at their throats with their face going black after the first taste.

I wont be back, so please do continue to froth your rabid nonsense unchallenged, and get all those chef groupies out there to think how, like amazingly gooood you must be, if you are, like, sooo meeeeannn. Perhaps you hsould delete this entry. You wouldnt want anyone to see you being corrected now, would you?

Oh, and thank you for calling me superior, by the way. Yes, I think in this particular case, I am.

Off to me 'ouse in Frawwwwnce!
Clare

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm...who are you talking to? Wee bit frenzied and schizophrenic are you?..

A.C.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Not my point. My point was to correct your inflated drivel claiming that Jamie Oliver's accent was fake,

And when did I say this? The only thing I said was, simply, to correct the guy whose page this is with respect to the fact that Oliver isn't Cockney. Why you have to come out of left field and stick your oar in and talk about how true Cockneys are really like people from Essex is beyond me.

RE: It was also to correct your ludicrous doubly inaccurate claim that he has lied about where he was born,

Please state where I say this. I've always maintained the dude was from Essex.

RE: I noticed you have edited your post.

Nope, sorry.

RE: Can I also inform you that Jamie Oliver has never called himself a Cockney, nor is he - he'd have to be born within the sound of Bow bells for that.

Yes, that would be why I told the guy who runs this page Oliver isn't a Cockney. Why you had to chime in that Cockneys, REAL Cockneys, talk like people from Essex is beyond me.

RE: And yes, English food for the most part is appalling, as is American food for the most part.

You do realize you're arguing to two different people, here right? One is a chef from somewhere in the States. I'm a software engineer.

RE: That said, unlike you, Jamie Oliver doesnt waste his energy disappearing up his own arsehole about how lean mean and baaaad it is to be a Chef,

No, instead he tags his name onto shoddy merchandise and claims that pizza is actually pita bread with a squished tomato on top. Points well made by the Angry Chef, I should add.

RE: instead, he actively works at informing and teaching people how to appreciate, enjoy and cook good food.

That doesn't make him a chef. Being elbow deep in oil vapor, managing the controlled chaos that is a professional kitchen and making sure every plate that leaves his kitchen is as close to flawless as one can get, does. It's not about your bank balance, how telegenic you are, how many adverts you're in, how much charity work you do or how much time you have to devote to being a drummer.

RE: Yes, he's allowed his publicity people to presnt him as the Essex Boy image;

They also seem to hire cameramen who can't hold a camera steady, believing that motion-sickness inducing lack of focus and hyperkinetic movement somehow makes cooking more "interesting".

RE: He puts his money where his mouth is. He uses his popularity to promote good food.

Good food is a good home cooked toad-in-the-hole as much as it is a well executed Beef Wellington, say. NOT a piece of deep fried wonton wrapper with a bit of prosciutto stuck artfully in the middle with a rosemary sprig and truffle-infused wasabi laced triple virgin pressed olive oil spilled all over the plate. Somewhere along the line being a chef stopped being about cooking food in a kitchen and became about being on the telly, making money tagging your name on everything from electric grills to denim wear and exchanging "innovative, daring concepts" for raw culinary talent.

RE: He takes chances on underpriviledged youngsters and invests time and money in their training.

So do most kitchens. You don't think the average kitchen expects Harvard grads do you?

RE: He like...you know..does, umm, good things? Uhhhh...helps people? Are you familiar with any of these terms?

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BEING A CHEF?

RE: I'm sureyou are aware that food is energy, being

Food is an end, not a means to an end. To the foodie and the true chef, it's about the food.

RE: Oh, and thank you for calling me superior, by the way. Yes, I think in this particular case, I am.

I think given how much you Sloaney types go for the sarcasm thing you'd be able to detect it in others...

RE: Off to me 'ouse in Frawwwwnce!

Thank God for that.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Clare,

Well, your reading comprehension isn't terribly superior, because actually it looks like it's someone other than the A.C. himself who's been arguing with you about Jamie Oliver's "Cockneyness."

I take it you've never worked in a restaurant? I have, briefly, and I can well understand A.C.'s crankiness toward the less enjoyable aspects of being a chef and running a business. It's work, hard work, the kind that takes it out of you physically AND mentally, and you truly have to love it to stay in the business for any length of time. I bet there's a seething Angry Chef inside many a harmless-seeming cook, despite your evident belief that A.C. is alone in his desire to rant. These people care about what they do -- that's why they're angry! Perhaps the concept of giving a damn about something other than yourself is hard for you to understand?

I'm sure you will, in fact, secretly be back just to look and see who's responded to your little tirade. I've never been to Essex, but I think your anxious desperation to prove how far you've risen above it is awfully cute. *patpatpat* Thanks for the good laugh!

-- Not the A.C.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Wow...Thanks guv!

Didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!

Yer welcome, Chef.

My industry (I'm the software engineer) had the same problem in the mid to late 90s. Suddenly with the dot com crap it was fashionable to be in I.T. Those of us who were in the trenches when it was the province of geeks nerds and the math club - the ones who sweated until 3 am night after night wondering what the compiler was doing wrong or what configuration switch the hardware guys got wrong. Yeah. We watched the influx of people thinking it was a cushy and cozy gig, trying to find the fast track to cool millions. We watched em come. We watched em go. Your industry will eventually go back to what it was - the poseurs will quit and the ones who are in it because they have to do it, they're driven to do it, they can't do anything else and THRIVE ON IT - will stay.

Although reading your foul mouthed invective at work may very well get me in trouble, rest assured there are some of us who understand. Because every walk of life has it. There's people like me and others in my field who read voraciously, take their engineering skills down avenues most people never investigate - and even if they aren't geniuses at it yet they know enough to recognize genius and they've certainly got the perspiration part of it down cold. And we do it because it's who we are. Spouses who call at 8pm wondering if and when we'll be home don't get it. Guys who got their diploma from a mill who do the bare minimum and shake their heads at those who agonize over how to best and most effeciently handle a task don't get it. Managers who simply think we can do a 180 mid-project and simply "tack on" fundamental design features close to the end of a development cycle don't get it... (Mostly because through inventiveness and a few all nighters we just get it done - but there's a close mapping between that and the "you should do this" crowd.)

So I can easily look at your blog and see myself in it, though I can't cook worth a damn. I can see a guy who juggles nine things at once, dealing with suppliers who don't deliver and outsiders who have warped and mistaken ideas about what I do.

Hats off to ya chef. Hopefully I can get enough vacation time to find out where you cook and eat what you make. Someday.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Great insight. You blog about a subject I've never given much thought to.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, that's why I recently ran toad in the hole (with red wine-wild mushroom sauce, but whatever)as a special. I'll also take Heston Blumenthal over that cool, hip, fuckhead "rocker" anyday.

Isn't it funny how infuriating elitism can be?

The " I have a house in France " line is pretty good too. Wow. How far above us they are.

A.C.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Software engineer’s post just above and A.C.’s early reply at the very top point to the essence of not only the critiques of the food whores but of all those who profess mastery of a skill. Not to put too heavy a spin on things, but “the ones who are in it because they have to do it, they're driven to do it, they can't do anything else” describes way too small a chunk of the population. “You must learn the basics before you can cook freely and easily.” One must strive to know “…how to think and cook.” Nobody wants to wait that long. Think about it, how long did it take before you pros cooked freely and easily? Five, ten, fifteen years? More? Pick your passion - actors, athletes, pilots, chefs; ask any of these you run into, “When did you actually get good at what you do?” The honest ones will say that they aren’t there yet. Those with true insight will just smile and know that “freely and easily” is the toughest goal they can set. Anyone else is just a monkey flinging his own shit at you. Too bad that there are so many of the latter. –Bob G.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the software engineer.... again.

You know, Chef basically wrapped up in a nutshell what's rapidly going wrong with this world. Nobody wants to be running a kitchen while extinguishing flames on his jacket while trying to figure out how to cover the fact that someone didn't show up and twice as many people as anticipated show up that evening and all want what the delivery boy forgot to bring... They all want, however, to be rolling in cash at 21 while scootering their way through their hit TV show while promoting their hip new restaurant which they aren't really in cause they're promoting drumming and selling merch.

We don't powerlift or weightlift. We sculpt, tone. Bodybuild. Image, not function.

We don't make anything anymore. Outsource that. We want to market it, sell it, profit on the transfer.

Hell we don't even want to make music anymore. We'll just dig up a sample from 20 years ago and talk dirty over it with a metronome keeping the beat.

We don't want to invest. We want three hundred percent returns within six months. Companies don't care about their futures - they'll throw all their company secrets to an offshore company to improve THAT QUARTER's bottom line.

We don't save. We squander. We don't aspire to excellence, we just want to make the team.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortuantely, Buffy and Chip have been given trophies for last place finishes in soccer and t-ball since they were six. To them making the team has nothing to do with merit or performance. They see no difference between excellence and walking through the motions. A pity. – Bob G.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I agree one hundred percent. Working hard? Having principles in what you do? Taking pride at improving, excelling? All of these qualities seem to be almost shameful in our modern society. I have them. That's why I'm so pissed. To excel on prinicple you've already alienated yourself against 95% of the rest. Shit rewards. It's not just my field, it's EVERY field.

All your other points are correct also....kids aren't taught to excel, (they're not even taught to read anymore)they're being groomed into average, safe, non- thinking shells with zero personal responsiblity.

Our superior friend wants to mention how dreadful the food in the States is ( I don't know how they turned the post into some sort of cultural attack, but the insecure are often brilliant in their incorrectness), but to me the real shame is the number of countries that want to imitate us.

A.C.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie Oliver :: I have a number of friends who are Chefs and I learned very early on in the friendship that one should never ever mention the "mockney" one in their vicinity unless you wanted to be drowned in angry spittle.

Once, whilst drunk, I made the mistake of comparing one of my friends with Jamie Oliver (in jest mind) whilst he was slicing vegetables.

The only reason why I did not require hospital treatment is that I am double hard and chew Wusthof steel up and spit it out

/\../\

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Software Engineer strikes again

Is it me or are we in the age of the "Emperor's New Food"?

"Oh, these wasabi and artichoke wonton crisps are divine!" "No they aren't." *gasp* "Of course they are? I guess you're just too unsophisticated to appreciate this brie and fried oyster meringue!" "No, it's pretentious CRAP."

Fusion's always been with us. Good fusion is, say, some large group of people intermixing or moving somewhere else and comparing notes and working with new foods. Take Cajun/Creole cooking, for example. Cajuns are displaced French Canadians, Creoles are basically a hybridized folk (and thank Heaven for em!) They basically took French Canadian Lumberjacking food (tek dat dair bacon, fry it hin da lard, den fry da meat, but doan drain da fats, hein?) and combined it with indigenous and transplanted spices and rices.

Bad fusion is, well, someone else put it succinctly. Can't make mashed potatoes? Make wasabi mashed potatoes.

Iron Chef was an interesting show because it took really good food people and made them think on their feet. Unfortunately, according to some of the participants, it ended up wreaking major havoc on the indigenous Japanese food. Cooks who'd spent decades preparing really good homey traditional autumn boiled vegetable dishes, for example, were no longer doing that - instead trying to emulate the Iron Chefs, drizzling truffle oil and foie gras on everything. I think it was Morimoto who was horrified that when he went into the countryside for good old Autumn whatever nobody was making it. But he was pressed to try crystallized ginger rice with a terrine of raw eggs and quail.

3:51 PM  
Blogger sdn said...

i'd be curious what you all think of this link:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/jonquil/205851.html

food snobbery drives me nuts. appreciation of good food is something else entirely!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what an asshole.

you're right. Food and wine snobs are the worst.

A.C.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

AC,
I've been reading your blog all day, I think I have got to them all now. I blew my knee out about 4 years ago, figured I was through being on my feet for 10 12 14 hrs a day. Well after being in sales for 18 months, and finishing thr rehab and being able to run again, (went from 270 to my current of 214) I was dying to get back in the kitchen. I was fortunate enough to get on with a Chef who motivated me. It was my first a la minute kitchen, even soups done to order. He brought me back, lit a fire under me, reminded all of us daily about what we serve, train our eyes, have pride, believe in ourselves as cooks. Not only to kick ass but to take names in triplicate while going about our day. My roomates at the time were on my ass about the money. "You could be making 50 or 60 a year if you went and worked at (insert souless corporate entity). Why do you stay there making your cute little hourly wage?" Because his food has soul, it matters that we use tongs less and our hands more, this way there is a connection between kitchen and diner. It's alive, it's beautiful, it IS art, and I would do it for free if I did not owe, because I believe in it that much. I told them I would die if I had to go back to the corporate beast to serve crap. I am catering for myself now in another state, but still hear him in my head some mornings when I need to be told. "Get it together!" AC nice to be a part of a family that posseses this level of integrty. Like you said in 'Death before dishonor' All we have is our pride in what we do, I have a lions pride sir and look no further than myself when things fall short. You can add my ship to your pirates armada.

Cheers,
Paul (mr_sligo on some other posts)

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Software Engineer again -

I think the blog referenced above was tongue in cheek and making fun of food snobbery.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just scanned the bloq quickly. I think you're right.

If I'm wrong , he's right on... horrid snobbery.

A.C.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

It was completely tongue-in-cheek. I eat whatever I damned well want to. The posting was mostly meant for my friends, who took it in the spirit of mockery intended.

And White Lily flour rocks.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies then! Food and wine snobbery has become so rampant, it's sometimes hard to tell the differance between reality and mockery.

Microwaves are one of the greatest devices in the world.


A.C.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Jonquil said...

Somebody needs to invent a device that does for chilling what a microwave does for heating.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’d like to zero on on something AC said: “To excel on principle alienates yourself against 95% of the rest.” The key here is “alienate.” When you do what it takes to excel you don’t simply separate yourself from the others, you piss most of them off. These emporors don’t wish to be reminded of the clothes they wear. It starts in youth sports where Mommy takes a shot in HER ego if the seven year old snot-nose doesn’t win first place. She balances the scales by demanding ribbons and trophies be given down to every last place participant. Next it’s education where entire curricula are changed so said snot-nose (and Mummy) doesn’t feel bad if he can’t spell or add. Keep redefining success until the brat is eighteen and has a room full of trophies, plaques, ribbons and awards but can’t do anything well. Mommy is proud, by gosh look at all the hardware! Sadly, the real world is waiting to kick the kid’s teeth in. The few who recognize that passion – preparation – practice – education – more practice – etc. are required to gain personal excellence should note that most folks don’t want their own short comings brought to light. They’ll do what they can to knock the upstart down a peg or two. Envy can be a very ugly virtue. There’s a lot of it out there. -Bob G.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again Bob is correct. Isn't it amazing how nowadays we bend the rules to make the laggers feel better instead of setting the bar higher and making people excel.

A.C.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Alec said...

So what is your opinion on Alton Brown?

I watch his show and have bought his books, but now he has a line of knives , too. They are made by Kershaw whom I know nothing about.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Love your blog. I want to have your baby.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Alton Brown. He cooks and explains thing sesibly and not annoyingly.

I've never had a good deal of luck with stainless Damascus type knives. I tried Kasumi for a while but I just couldn't keep them as sharp as I like. Probably just me though. I always go back to carbon Masahiros...or lately I've been using an Al Mar which I really like.

A.C.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grace!!!! You've made me soo happy!

Where should I send this kid?

A.C.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fail to understand why any chef should utilize an ego, after all it's just a blue collar profession... you are nothing but servants, and any kid can make pate a choux, pancetta from scratch, or cassoulet. Acting as if a common thing is super human holier than thou territory lacks decency, integrity, and most of all taste.

Now get me my frittes, you 7.50 an hour piece of crap, and it better not be soggy, or you will be cooking it until it's right.

I pay your salaries, and I expect your servile adherance to making me my food.

chefs deserve neither respect nor gratitude, just the very fact that they get to cook me a meal should be reward enough if they are truly passionate about food.

You are all a bunch of Mcdonalds fry cooks----overpaid ones, egotistical, and unworthy of praise.... so lick the demiglace off my ass and go fuck yourselves with it.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shit covered asshole.

A.C.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

were it not for the rich you "chefs" (fry cooks) would not have a profession, we are here to be your unconscionable ball breakers...you serve us, not the other way around...I take personal pleasure in going to top notch restaurants, ordering a meal, and sending it back...if it's cold, I make sure the waiter tells the chef to go back to cooking school moron ( I tip them just to be amused by the raging frustration it may cause, I may fake food poisoining, (getting two others to complain gets your ilk an awful lot of grief). You guessed it I'm a sadistic psychotic guest, thinking of new and exciting ways to make cute waitresses cry, I tip them low even if the service is fantastic, I get off on seeing them suffer, hell, I love insulting servants, it's their job, to take what I have to say, wash my dishes, clear, my linens, and be fucking quick about it.

I'm an asshole, I fully admit it, but there is no finer way of putting people in their place, than OWNING THERE ASS.

put up with my shit, and I just might be there to bitch about your piece of shit staff to managment and hopefully rid myself of your loatsome image.

If a waiter were to catch fire, I would taunt it with water-which I would promptly drink.

Now then where the hell is my goddamn cassoulet biotch?

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That guy makes me want to take a shit in his souffle----class a fucking jerk

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that guy makes me want to take a shit in his souffle----what a jerk

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacques pepin is to me the ultimate chef....hardcore, real, mild mannered, and able to "throw the fuck down"

Bourdain is another, and my boss chef Micheal White of J a restaurant in appleton, wi.

the latter has no formal taining, yet has the innate aboility to throw it down and put out consistent high quality food.
dudes a jerk when stressed, but still has the gumption to buy the staff a beer, when we get hammered, and are still able to hold the fort together....dudes a solid trooper http://www.supplerestaurantgroup.com

7:28 PM  
Blogger oldetiredchef said...

I've been cooking for decades. I'm tired of corp. unintelligent BS. I have owned @ 5 restaurants..live well..make good $$ ..but, the corporations get the ink.
We are ALL jealous of Emeril, Bobby, Wolf, Alton..they've made it work for them.

I agree with (???) Jacques Pepin is probably the only TRUE chef appearing on TV these days.

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