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Redefining old ways

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was looking at other restaurant menus today and I noticed some things on there that I felt were not correct. When we created something new from an old method and it turns out to be nothing like the original product, do we call it a new version of the old or do we re name it because its nothing like what we originally thought it to be.
For example; wild rice gnocci. The product this man ended up with looks and tastes nothing like gnocci yet because he used potatoe and flour and egg in his recipe he felt he was apliged to call it wild rice gnocci.
Fois gras reduction, how can that be?
It's this sort of thing that I just don't know how I feel about. Do we stick to tradition or do we revise. If we revise do we re name? Ah, just me being me. What do you guys think?
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #2 of 15
Am just a home cook who likes to go to restaurants.

No pro here.

My own feeling is that if the menu says Beef Wellington, I expect to get a version close to the traditional one, unless the menu or waiter notifies me otherwise.

We were recently in a restaurant that served us cooked roast beef when we ordered carpaccio as an appetizer.

When we questioned, we were told they did their carpaccio that way.

Fine, no prob, but let the people know about it before they put in their order.

When does a recipe go so far afield that it should not be given the original name?

Heck if I know.

My own feeling is that a well written menu and a knowledgeable FOH will minimize problems.

Just my opinion, hope it helps.
post #3 of 15
I think auntdot hit upon the critical point regarding the carpaccio. If you're using the same ingredients and technique and putting a twist on it, you can get away with the same name. Radical changes in ingredients or technique (e.g. cooking the beef for carpaccio) need a new name.

By way of example, I ran Medallions of Beef Orlov a few weeks ago. The only things I changed from the original were beef instead of veal and no foie gras. Presentation was demi/ heavy cream reduction on the plate, medallions stacked with duxelle in between and topped with gruyere' and gratineed. I had all the elements but one, so I used the name.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Greg,
What is your opinion on this dis- something or other when a chef takes a dish and breaks it down into its major ingrediants and serves those in little seperate dishes on a plate. Like a black forest cake, they make the cake, they make the kirche cherries and the iceing. Instead of making a cake they serve these seperate on a plate. I just look at these new concepts and can't figure if its new and creative or just ridiculous. To be honest, it annoys me when a chef doesn't use the proper ingrediants to make a traditional item then calls it that item. Funny she should mention beef wellington because I went to a popular new restaurant recently where the chef was from New York and he served his beef wellington breaded and seared with a cigar roll of puff pastry on the side. What the **** was that. That is nothing like beef wellington. It was my friends order and then she was confused as to what a beef wellington really was.
I don't knock creative minds. I love that we are stepping forward, I just don't want to see us forget where we came from. We justify not using Escoffier methods anymore because they are too costly and not needed. But soon we're are going to forget how to make a proper demi all together.
Listen to me, I sound like some freedom speaker, sorry, just get carried away sometimes.
Just interested in what other people feel on this matter
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #5 of 15
100 Folds, you bring to mind our adventure last spring at Alinea in Chicago. The name of the game there is recombination and deconstruction- but you expect it. When you order "Steak with A-1" you don't expect a hunk of meat with brown sauce; you get a perfect little medallion of beef with various elements that comprise the sauce.

I agree with the craziness of menus these days. The capper is when the menu said "Hollandaise sauce" on the eggs benedict and I got cheese sauce. I questioned the server and was told "that's our Hollandaise sauce". I sent it back.

At the minimum, it's shoddy menu writing. At most, it's bait and switch.
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post #6 of 15
This is an important debate going on here.

Those who no me, no I am grounded in classic technique (French) yet if it was not for my classical training would I be willing to take chances.Much of what we encounter in restaurants is a sorry attempt to be progressive without understanding the means to that end.I do not make demi glace anymore, probably not for ten years or more. Glace de viande, or jus lie..yes.more clean and pure.Less labor also.I might get in trouble for this but i'll take a chancerestaurants serving wellington and the like are caught in a haze.To move ahead,ask..........what if? But you must understand the process.Don't say the danish sucks if you don't understand rolled in doughs.Don't say the 10/15 inch pennent puff pastry sucks if you don't know what a detrampe is.Do you make your own bacon?What temputure does your anglaise set?What is the difference between a nage and a court bouillon, a fish stock or fumet?Do you nape or cordon? You must understand and master where it came.A dish that is de-constructed can be one of the most exciting experiences when done correctly.As can a leg of duck confit served solo.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #7 of 15
I don't mind it so much when chef's deconstruct a dish and put it together in a new and different way. What bugs me is when chef's remove or replace essential elements to a dish. I've seen Veal Oscar done with shrimp! I've seen Bouballibases that no more resemble Bouballibase than Chowder does. I could go on and on. I pretty much agree with what CC and Greg have to say on the subject. You have to be well versed in a cuisine to be able to deconstruct and recreate a dish, but if done properly I don't mind it. Just make sure you are staying true to the flavors of the dish, and make sure you let your guests know that it is your take on the dish, not the classically prepared version.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
I find it interesting that a couple of years ago we were making dishes that you didn't know if they were dessert or a main dish. They were so complicated that it took a waiter 30 minutes to discribe what went into them. Now we are breaking it down so much that we don't even put the item together anymore.
Can't wait till we find the happy medium.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #9 of 15
I think we're talking about THE #1 subject of food professionals here.
(Note: Having been trained in Classic French (ok, and a little anal myself) I believe if you call something by a name that has been defined, you have given it a structured idenity. Call something a male cat ... it's a uneutered male cat, if its neutered or a dog you are incorrect. But if you said it's a cat, well, it could be several things. So if you have beef tenderloin on the menu you have given yourself leeway, but beef wellington has been defined to mean a certain preparation.
Presentation is altogether different.)
Are we not overreacting (we should call it a "Ingredient Event", HA) ... I mean who told us we had to have BUZZ WORDS on the menu? Why did they think they had to call it beef wellington? Ok, so the average client spends XX seconds gazing down the menu, don't you think the word they saw was BEEF, and they said "Beef sounds pretty good tonight ..." then reread the description closely to decide if duxelle and puff pastry would hit the spot?
The really interesting basis to these questions is "Traditionalism" vs. "Fusion". Why mix the two? Man has developed techniques suited to materials and enviroments yet growth and change are the basis of life. We need both.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was reading this article on Alice Waters last night and it was tittle "To the moon alice." Basically, this restaurant owner is tired of the amount of influence Alice has had on Chefs in the San Fransisco area concerning the use local ingredients and traditionally cooked foods. He wants something new and innovative. At the same time, Alice responds, why fix something when its not broken. They both have a point but something else dawned on me. We call certain dishs traditional but how do we know that they are in fact traditional. How do we know that they were not created upon from another dish and then we just continued calling it this dish. How do we know if our forefathers didn't re invented items like we are doing now. So now the question is, What is traditional?
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #11 of 15
I looked up the definition for "Tradition" and it is anything that is handed down from one generation to the next orally or by example, or NOT written. So traditions DO change (and, I was wrong, they apply to presentation). Then I looked up "Historically" thinking maybe that would apply to a recorded "receipe"; but no, it refers to events. So what are we left with? My son for example, who has never had Beef Wellington, would not have any concept of what it should be. What an interesting time we live in!
I've also seen Alice Waters dished in a few articles, for her "ingredient driven" methods ... and wondered "What the ****?!". How can anyone who has any taste buds left (are these people smokers & heavy coffe drinkers and have no taste?) not taste the difference in something prepared with produce that has not been shipped (picked green or genetically modified) or meat that has been allowed to hang/ age (longer)? Really, these people have to be benefiting somehow from the industrial machine.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
You've lost me Rose. I haven't looked at a lot of Alice water's plates and I really don't know much about her. Are you saying that she buys produce and ingrediants from places other than local farmers? The article I read suggested otherwise.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #13 of 15
Sorry, I've never been know for eloquence! I'm questioning how the OTHER PEOPLE can say Alice Waters method, local & seasonal, does not ultimately produce better quality food.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
That's true but then this brings up another topic. Infusion is mainly created through using other cultures ingrediants. Now remember, infusion has been going on for centuries, it is not a relatively new way of cooking. What we refer to as traditional is in fact an infusion that occured over 200 - 300 years ago. How are we to create new flavors and combine culinary cultures if we do not use ingrediants from other places. That's what this man's point was. He was saying that he would like to see new ideas and flavors being represented in the San Fransisco region. And although california is a producer of a great deal of ingrediants it would not be able to support say, star fruit or high quality gingseng.
Not only that, California fruit that we get in, I almost always ssend back. It looks wonderful but tases like straw.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
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post #15 of 15
You see Alice's point then! To have "new flavors" one would have to ship/import and then you have to get something that's picked green or designed to ship ... tasteless.
So, we have traditional technique, which is learned as a foundation. We have classical receipes. Then we have infusion of new ingredients. Well, I guess we must deconstruct the receipe to it's foundation as well to evaluate wether our new ingredient will produce the same effect. What was the desired effect on the diner of "Beef Wellington"? A good one is not easy, so we want the diner to be amazed that the beef can be just the right temp, the pastry not soggy ... so #1 would be impressed, #2-Richness, #3-Earthyness(butter,beef,spinach,shrooms,wine...). Do the "new" menu items satisify these goals?
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