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Questions for Chef Kaiser

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So chef, are you a classically trained chef working in the Phillipines? Since you're practically immersed in the culture, have you picked up an appreciation for local foods, flavors, and techniques? If so, has it influenced your personal style and outlook toward cooking?
post #2 of 13

Kuan answer to your question


Good question after 20 years in Asia. Yes I am a classical trained chef from Switzerland some 30 years ago. In the times an apprentice still had to work his 12 to 14 hours. But let’s leave that subject on the side, as times change and also older chefs have to go with the time and labor laws of today and can not always say remember in our times when we were young!

To your question: I worked mainly in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. I always studied the local kitchens and recipes in each new country, based on their history and basic available ingredients, and their cooking methods and techniques.

In most of the local cuisines, I could understand, that based on the equipments and utensils used, they did not evolve as much as it happened in Europe since the 15th century with the Classical French Cuisine, then Classical Cuisine and later the Classical Cuisine the Modern Way. In the Asian Cuisines (especially South East Asian) mostly dishes are straight forward and cooked with the basic available ingredients and cooking methods, are limited due to the base equipments and utensils used. Further many may disagree with me, but most of local dishes are still cooked like 200 to 300 years ago with the main cooking methods of sautéing, boiling (simmering) and deep fat frying. Exceptions to that are the Chinese and Japanese Cuisine, which have a deeper rooted culinary culture and healthy dishes.

As you travel, you learn about new ingredients, and at times or better said mostly you are forced to use them due to the culture and eating habits of the local customers. Therefore you taste most local dishes maybe with some exceptions like lizards, snakes, monkey brain among a few. Thereafter in preparing the menus for the various food outlets you decide, where you best infuse the local dishes which generally are offered in the coffee shop concept of a hotel under the section “Local Favorites,” or in your local specialty restaurant.

Therefore working in Asia and travel the different countries, you have to be flexible as a chef or pastry chef and learn as quickly as possible to adapt yourself.

You can understand now that we are for sure tempted to start combining some western methods and ingredients with local ingredients or vise versa (like we made wasabe dressing already more than 18 years ago or Spaghetti with fish roe and dried seaweeds). But one thing to mention here, what is happening at times with many western chefs or even Asian, I believe they go too fare with this so called fusion cuisine and rather create confusion.

My style, well that one I left always up to my chefs working under me, but I gave them as much free hand as possible, as creativity has to be encouraged, other vise, you will get stagnant and competition will overtake you. However when young chefs start to call old creations by new names by using the traditional recipes, for sure at this point I am the most stubborn and old fashioned chef / manager.

post #3 of 13
Interesting question Kuan. Chef Kaiser I love your response.Let me ask you this since we are on the subject. Do you find that Asian cusine has a stricter or higher standard of excellence than say traditional American cusine? I have always noticed that Asian Chefs tend to hold certian traditions and methods in high regards. Case in point, the Japanese hold their knivies and cutting boards has sacred items. Do you find that to be the case in other parts of Asia where methods and traditions as well as equipment is held sacred?
post #4 of 13

hi, fun shall it be to be a chef

Hi Cakerookie,

Well I hope not to get into a war of nationalities among chefs here of different up brining or chefs saying my teacher said and I know he is right. The way I solve that among my chefs is simple, when they argue. I simply ask them: “who has the oldest base recipe book?” From there we take it and discuss it and consider evolution. However I always believe that the culinary art has nothing to do with continents or boarders of politically competing countries. I will post soon some short biography of Chef Careme and Chef Escoffier Part 1, if allowed and accepted.

The true respect is to cook healthy food today, as more people are sick, due to the artificial or genetic food intakes (Call it Junk FOOD). Well out of the excitement I write, as I do live for years in poor countries and humbly see nutritional reality. Whereas I read an article the other day that the TV chefs are influencing the eating habits of the Americans and here poor have hepatitis and name it because of wrong food intake. Well with that also Europeans are sick today, because of the same problem of food intake as Americans are sick.

I do remember as a small boy, the way my mother cooked a beef goulash, and to your surprise, after adding the beef, the onions until they were brown, plus the sweet paprika, she just topped it off with clean water from the mountains. The taste well for me I know even water quality today you can be question.

Well coming from the mountains in to the big world and your questions, please understand me right, I do answer of what I have seen and see:

1. Do you find that Asian cusine has a stricter or higher standard of excellence than say traditional American cusine?

a. Well in the first place America was born with immigrants and sugar / cotton slaves. Therefore the multinational aspect has to be considered, and therefore the true cuisine was for along time lost. Today after I did quit Cheftalk for nearly two years, I don’t hear about the sauce Espagnol anymore, as I knew since 1950 it is not applied anymore.

b. To your real question: Most Asian Chefs, especially from South East Asia, being hired on cruise ships, cargo ships and hotels in Europe, never saw a culinary school. As the profession just only in the last 3 – 4 years found acceptance by high society. In 1992, we had to train them from scratch, like a pot washer to become a kitchen helper. Visit China and the more you will understand, what I am talking about here today. Good Asian chefs you can find in Hongkong, Singapore, Japan and some of the major cities in other Asian countries.

c. Therefore you will find some talents every where, however in the average, I don’t think they are more disciplined. Especially, once they step up the steps in the kitchen brigade, they quickly forget where they actually came from and are rather macho and selective, whom they want to teach.

2. I have always noticed that Asian Chefs tend to hold certian traditions and methods in high regards.
a. I believe you are right with that, Asians have a respectful past too, especially the Chinese and Japanese, as they were not Colonized, by the West. The two nations I mentioning! Don’t look at the cup noodles the Japanese produce today, just look at the true Japanese Cuisine. The Chinese, don’t look at the Communism and there social reforms they are fighting to meet the West, look at the regional Chinese Cuisines and understand.

3. Case in point, the Japanese hold their knivies and cutting boards has sacred items.
a. Well being in Japan in a kitchen, you can be a new comer with 25, and you will start from scratch, even though you made the best school in the world. Seniority is dictating, so imagine know, cutting for four years vegetables as a junior. Well that explains their knife and carving skills and the respect to the chopping board.

4. Do you find that to be the case in other parts of Asia where methods and traditions as well as equipment is held sacred?

a. Yes, they don’t always agree with us, as their deep traditional up brining and believes are so rooted. Like my helper in the house, did put in the past always a fork into a beef stew, out of believe that it will help to tenderize the meat. Well I am happy today Jovie understood, that simmering high connective tissue meet is enough to tenderize.


welcome to Asia
post #5 of 13

humble chefs history from 1783 - 1833



In the last article, there was a brief historical introduction of “Lucullus,” who was a great food lover. It was actually with the Roman occupation of lands in the east, that they had great access to new ingredients like spices, herbs and seeds. Many of these ingredients traveled through the Silk Road from the Far East to the Middle East and the Mediterranean sea, much like the cherry tree was brought by Lucullus to Europe. It was also the Romans who developed the first vineyards in the Rhône valley in France.

Therefore speaking some thousands of years ago, it was obviously the Roman and Egyptian Empires of that time in the West, who greatly benefited from the trading of spices, salt, sugar and other ingredients resulting in a well developed cuisine at an early age. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was mainly the monks who preserved the scriptures and teachings and passed it on to the next generations.

Culinary Evolution after the Middle Ages

(Translated from the book of “Vladimir Durussel,” - “Menu Study, Writing and Planning.”

It was at the end of the Middle Ages when the Turks invaded Constantinople. This forced the elite, teachers and knowledgeable people to flee to the West. Many found refuge in Italy where they lived a comparable lifestyle.

It was in 1533 with the marriage of Catherine de Médicis of Florence to Henri II of France, where Italian culinary art influence was felt very quickly in France, where at the time the cuisine was more regional.

It was also in that time where different professional organizations were formed. These were promoted under the name of “corporations” (associations). Therefore, there were the: rôtisseurs, charcutiers, sauciers; which sub – divided themselves into: maîtres (teachers) – cuisiniers (cooks), vinaigriers, moutardiers, bouchers, pâtissiers, confiseurs, etc.

It is interesting to know, that in 1563, Charles IX, son of Catherine de Médicis, forbade to serve meals of more than 3 services (courses) per meal. (At that time the first course alone could have been composed of ten dishes and two to three soups)

It was in 1579, when hotel owners were asked to write in large letters, their dishes and the price to be paid at the entrance of their establishment.

It was in the first half of the XVI century (16th) when the cuisine had a great evolution. . . the choice of vegetables increased, new spices where available and it was in this époque (period) also that pâtes had a strong appearance.

However it was only in the so called Grand Siècle (Great Century), where a very intense development happened in the French cuisine and one can say in the cuisines of all Royal Courts in Europe.

It had to do with the excessive appetite of Louis XIV (14th), and with that culinary arts at its time reached its perfection. The King had a passion for vegetables and that gave the “vergers” (vegetable gardeners) and “potager” (soup makers) free hand to plant and create new dishes. Soon the teaching reached the whole of Europe.

As earlier mentioned, in the time of Charles IX, son of Catherine de Médicis, professionals grouped themselves into corporations (associations). Whereas there were laws among the associations, that you could only produce certain ingredients or components which were part of a dish. Like the “Saucier” (sauce maker) was only allowed to make sauces, but not to grill or roast a chicken. This was the work of the rôtisseurs.

That was challenged by a certain Boulanger in 1765. He opened the first restaurant in the rue (street) des Poulies and had a complete kitchen brigade producing all the dishes.

In 1777 there were other restaurants called l’Almanach Dauphin. These were owned by the traiteurs, who however could only produce consommés (at the time called restaurants divins ou bouillons de Prince). As they were related with the corporation, they could not offer what Boulanger did, like: des pieds de mouton en sauce blanche (mouton shank in white sauce). Therefore the corporation of the traiteurs sued Boulanger. However, they lost the case in court and Boulanger was allowed to operate his restaurant.

Following the court decision, more and more restaurants opened in Paris and with that a great evolution happened in the culinary scene.

However a person I would like to write more in detail due to his great achievements and contribution to the evolution of food and the culinary profession, is nobody else then Antoinin – Marie – Carême, born 1783 and died 1833.

The biography of Antoine – Marie – Carême (written by the Swiss author Harry Schraemli, in his book “von Lucullus zu Escoffier)

Biography of Antoine – Marie – Carême

It was a cold and windy November night in the streets of Paris, and a young boy of about the age of nine tried to protect himself from the strong gusts of wind by staying as close as possible beside his father. A man, who in his appearance was clearly marked with frustration with society, the rulers and rich of his time and he had love for alcohol and his children!

The father, who was walking so fast that the boy could hardly catch up, stopped suddenly and placed his two hands on top of his son’s head as if he suddenly had an idea.

The father said, “Come my little Antoine!” Then his father walked with him in to a street lined with numerous “taverns” and chose one.

They entered the tavern. It was sticky and dirty and they found a place at an un-cleared table. From the bar counter, the loud voice of the fat female owner boomed and the father ordered food and wine. After a short while, she served the house specialty – “Noix de boeuf en surprise,” and with the food, Antoine got a glass of red wine which warmed him up and brought a light red color to his otherwise pale face.

The father looked at his son: the very sharp cut face of the boy and his energetic movements clearly showed that the boy was full of energy and has a temperament. Further, his broad forehead explained his intelligence. His father, a father of 18 children, believed that Antoine, the second to the eldest, was just like him and that was the reason why, he chose him that night to go out with him.

The father, a small house kitchen master (private household chef), did not earn enough to feed all of his children.

The father, uncertain, caressed the curly hair of Antoine and said: ”Listen to your father. . . Out in the wide world, it is very beautiful and you can live well. And for intelligent people there is always a place. Where we live in the “Rue Bac,” the dirty street, poverty and need, will always dominate. Hardly enough sunshine comes into the dark rooms of our house and just when the last of you gets fed, the first one is shouting for bread again. For idiots, just to live is good enough, however for intelligent people, my son, it is ****. Next June you will be ten years old and at ten you can be already your own man, if you want to be.”

Antoine looked at his father with surprise and tried to understand what his father was really trying to say.

As both stepped back out in the cold November night, the young boy felt, that there will be a change in his life! In a neighborhood unknown to him, the father suddenly stopped, he took the very fine boy and embraced and kissed him on the forehead, and with tears running down his cheeks, he said in a low voice: “Beloved young one, go out in to the world and forget your father and mother. . . forget were you came from. Go on your way and become a light in heaven for our country, how you can afford and teach the world. A great time comes close and the world seems to be fermenting, bad will sink into the ground, good will go to heaven. Antoine I leave you up to you and your own destiny. Live well.”

Before the boy could understand what was happening, he was alone in the streets of Paris. Alone in the streets of Paris, with tears in his eyes Antoine was faced with the thought of being on his own now, without home, mother and father and may have to sleep in the streets.

Suddenly a voice was calling his attention and as he went closer he saw a well-built man. After the man learned about the story of the heartless father, he invited Antoine to stay with him.

Antoine learned that his new foster father was a chef. From his home kitchen, he prepared meals and sold them to the neighborhood. The next day, work in the kitchen started and with that a career as a chef, no one made as recorded in history. Antoine loved the grey-haired and happy Gargotier, even though he was a very strict chef in the kitchen, a style of discipline and hard work, which was new to him.

Antoine stayed for 6 years with his foster father and at the age of 15 years, in the year 1798, he started an apprenticeship at the Confiserie de Bailly. That was were the true talent of Carême, very quickly showed and was further developed. In only 2 years, he was one of the most appreciated chefs of the Maison Bailly. However Carême did not sit back and celebrate his young achievements. He stepped further and with the support of the owner of the Maison Bailly, he made daily visits to the library and the Stahlstichkabinettes. Marie-Antoine Carême (his real name actually), focused on studying historical motives, which the owner of the Maison Bailly gave him the chance to make into “pièce montée” (center pieces).

So it happened with the talent of Marie-Antoine Carême, that when there was a party in on of the rich houses, he was sent as an extra to monitor the buffet set up and at the right moment, to place his artful center piece. In the house of the Prince Talleyrand, there would not have been a party without the art full center pieces of Marie-Antoine Carême.

In 1813, Marie-Antoine Carême, was the owner of a confisserie in the “Rue de la Paix” in Paris and he enjoyed good business. However, it was during that time when his professional knowledge made greater advancements. He studied the culture and behaviors of the Romans and Greek, and that was the time, when he started to write professional books, which at that time most professions were lacking. He codified the classic French recipes that are still being executed to this day by chefs all over the world.

Marie – Antoine Carême, later traveled a lot and even to Russia, and that not on his own wanting to go he was welcomed and asked by the Russian leader at that time. In his lifetime, Carême has contributed tremendously to the development of the culinary arts. From a poor boy abandoned by his father in the streets of Paris to fend for himself, he rose to become one of the greatest culinary luminaries of all times.

Well with this short biography of Marie – Antoine Carême, I gave here as my magazine space is running out, which for sure is far longer by the author Harry Schraemli. However in short, Marie – Antoine Carême, was truly a genius and a hard working individual in the hard times he lived in. He was respected by Kings and the Kings chefs respected him and this is the reason why he is called the Chef of the Kings. However, whatever he wrote, he wrote based on research and practical experience. He became a reliable source of information to all other master chefs after him and if you read Escoffier’s works, a lot of his teachings he learned from Marie – Antoine Carême’s books.

Next issue, the biography of the “chef of the chefs”, Escoffier (born 1847).

For any comments, such as wrong dates or wrong facts as may have been published in other books, I am open to receive them and will check back with the author’s son about the source of information.
post #6 of 13
Chef Kasier you have my vote for Cheftalk Food Historian.Thats some great information and I appreciate the great lengths you went to answer the questions. It all makes sense though. You often hear Traditional and Neo Cusine mentioned especially in Japanese cooking. Do you think the Japanese are as hard line as they seem when it comes to their traditional way of preparing dishes? Is there really a Neo Japanese food movement where chefs are straying away from tradition and using new styles and techniques in their dishes? Sorry for all the questions but I find this stuff fascinating.
post #7 of 13

Neo Cuisine

Neo Cuisine

Yes I know about the new trend of the NEO Cuisine, well it is basically a base cuisine like Thai and infused with other cuisines. Well call it a little bit like fusion or is it actually the same, but just with an other title.

My honest opinion, about it is that these are trends, which will come and go, like way back, the Nouvelle Cuisine, which was highly promoted by the French thru Paul Bocuse and I actually had the chance to do 2 food promotions with him in Japan, where he was very popular at the time.

I was still young at the time, but when I looked at the menu with so many courses, I said, well I wonder, if a customer still remembers after 7 courses out of 12 courses, how course two looked alike and also tasted. Trust me they mostly did not. Well that was in 1988 and also the last years of the Nouvelle Cuisine.

Since - many trends came along and disappeared and I believe that is the way it will stay, as simply the basics of cooking are known since decades or soon one century. Therefore chefs today will more focus on the knowledge of new ingredients and their use, as well as new techniques, to combine them with their own cuisine, similar what is happening with the Neo Cuisine today.

These culinary developments are not wrong today, as long as you are a professional and have a clear understanding of the basic practical and theoretical culinary knowledge. However, what I observed during the last years, that culinary schools are trying to teach students all these fancy stuff and they actually start to believe that is the way the whole world cooks and should eat.

Well some may disagree with me, but I still believe before running you should know, how to walk right first.

post #8 of 13

Some History about a great CHEF


Just something about the past and about one of the greatest CHEFS.

When I was writing this article, I realized, that Microsoft forgot to add the name of one or if not the most famous chefs in culinary history to their spell check.

That is maybe the reason why the name of this very famous culinary personality Auguste Escoffier is often misspelled. Born in 1847, this French chef is not known to everybody in the world, or many know his name and maybe one of his more famous books “Le Guide Culinaire”.

However it can be said, it is worthwhile to know a little bit more about this Great Master Chef, as it is not untrue when saying that gastronomy, the art or science of good eating, can be thankful for the imparted knowledge of this great chef, which we still are sharing today with the new generations of young chefs. Therefore I do believe that all chefs of this world should follow him as a true example and follow in his footsteps of excellence.

Born to a very simple family, his father was a humble hoofsmith. He then worked at a young age for his aunt who owned a small hotel in the South of France. As Escoffier grew in his culinary career, it showed that his talent did not only lie in cooking, but he was at the same time an architect, sculptureand stone carver. All these talents combined made him the most celebrated chef in history.

His strong beliefs in culinary arts and his eyes of perfection as an artist were the foundations of his professional career.

It was during the first French culinary exhibition in Paris (1882), when Escoffier demonstrated the art of decorating platters and other buffet displays with wax flowers. The art to work with wax, which was ignored at that time suddenly became the talk among all professionals, and the name Escoffier became eponymous to the art.

It was in 1885, when Escoffier published his first book under the title “Traité sur l’art de travailler les fleurs en cire”.

However let’s not go too fast in the highly interesting career of this Great Master Chef and therefore learn about his life and works in chronological order.

I hope the following biography which will be written in two parts, will help to shake up or wake up some older chefs of today as many, calling themselves chefs today, are not even worthy to carry the title. I know of some who cannot even prepare a proper meal and whose idea of cooking is often relegated to opening bottles, cans or dissolving instant mix in water.

I hope this biography of Escoffier will touch the young chefs and culinary students of today. For them to understand, that being a professional chef means working hard in their lifetime if they want to make a difference and be remembered. You can be a famous chef standing in front of a TV camera, but the real question is “Are you a good chef, or can you just talk?”.

Escoffier is the right person to name and the epitome of a good and truly successful chef. His formula was simply a lifetime of hard work, research and creation and with that came success one after another. He is still being remembered and his great works being read 70 years after his death. He truly deserves a rightful place as the greatest chef in the annals of culinary history.

Biography of August Escoffier (1847 – 1935)

At the age of 12, Escoffier started his culinary apprenticeship in the small hotel of his aunt in Nice (Southern France).

By the time he was 18, Ulysee Rohant, the chef of the famous restaurant “Petit Moulin Rouge” brought Escoffier to Paris. Escoffier and Rohant built a true relationship of master and student, which clearly showed years later, when Rohant encountered financial problems, it was the thankful student who stood by his side and supported him. Escoffier gave him the license of his first book and with that Rohant lived comfortably until his death.

At the age of 20 years, Escoffier was ordered to do his compulsory military service in the infantry division.

It was in 1870, when the German / French war broke out and he was called from his work place at “Petit Moulin Rouge” by a former military instructor, to join the army in the fortress of Metz. This French officer obviously choose Escoffier, as he was aware of the culinary talent of this young man.

It was with the defeat of the French in this war that Escoffier became a war prisoner and eventually got out of prison (thru mysterious circumstances) with the help of the general manager of the “Kursaal” in Wiesbaden (Germany). Escoffier served thereafter in the kitchen brigade under the well known General Mac – Mahon, who later became the president of the republic. It was at a later time, when Escoffier recounted the memories of that time openly in a professional newspaper, which obviously was not the best time of his life.

After many years a way from home, Escoffier eventually enjoyed freedom again and went back to the “Petit Moulin Rouge”, this time as the Master Chef.

In the year 1875, nothing could hold him back to join the “Hôtel du Luxembourg”, right back home, were he started his culinary career at the age of 12. He wanted to show people back home what is expected from a professional hotel cook. Four years later he went south to work in Cannes where he gave the restaurant “Faison doré” a great name.

However as time passed, Escoffier decided to return to Paris, a place during his time, which was the culinary platform of the world.

Therefore, shortly before 1881, he returned to Paris and with that move in his life, his true career as a “Master Chef” started. He could meet again with professional friends (other chefs), to discuss the new way of culinary arts, which eventually became the new trend, a trend which is still being practiced today thru the basic preparations and methods. Escoffier and his friends looked at the problem of the good old kitchen, a kitchen mainly for the rich, expensive and producing (very often) unhealthy food. They started to look at the new kitchen from a social and economical point of view and with that a new culinary revolution was born.

Back in Paris, he first worked as the Chef in the restaurant “Maire”. However, he soon transferred to the world famous catering company “Chevet” and occupied the position of Head Chef at the age of 35. At that time, that was an incredible achievement. “Chevet” at that time was the official caterer for the “Palais Royal” in Paris and with that came connection with all the rich and famous of Europe. The owner of the “Maison Chevet” was originally a poor but talented rose farmer who delivered his flowers throughout Europe and eventually to most royalties.

“Chevet” delivered dinners complete with silver cutlery, chinaware and a brigade of chefs as far as Saint Petersburg (Russia). This catering facility was also the first one to serve the very the first dinner in the Eiffel Tower in 1898, a dinner which was hosted by nobody less than Mr. Eiffel himself.

Further the “Maison Chevet” was involved with the development of canned goods and it also was Escoffier who improved many canning methods.

It was during this time that Escoffier bloomed, as he had the chance to taste new ingredients and to try out and develop new dishes. He could do just about anything his heart desired.

Discover in the next article more about the life of this Great Master Chef, a man truly deserving the title. A man that has helped shape the culinary world and has been a beacon of learning and a source of inspiration to the countless chefs who in their own ways have contributed much to society.
post #9 of 13
Chef Kaiser, speaking of Harry Schraemli's book. I like that one, still have it too, love his instructions for making fondue....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 13
We used to have a food history forum. It makes interesting reading! Use the search button on this site to browse for articles on those topics. Athenaeus, a member who posted here frequently but is on a sort of hiatus, has also posted some good historical items.
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
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post #11 of 13

hi, fun shall it be to be a chef

Foodpump, well he was a great writter, facts and plenty of humor. His family is actually in the Hospitality business since the 14th century and Harry Schraemli left behind one of the biggest privately owned historical libraries, you can view it in Thun Switzerland.

post #12 of 13

hi, fun shall it be to be a chef

hi, thank you, will have a look at it and compare notes. If you dont mind will post the second half of Escoffier's colorful live.

post #13 of 13
Well I see I still have a lot to learn about the history of French cusine..
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