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For the professional chefs out there

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Where do you get your recipes from? Do you mostly follow ones you have been taught in the past or do you make them up as you go along? I would love to get to the point where I could take a bite of food and tell you all the ingredients that were used!
post #2 of 9
There are some general recipes I keep in mind (sauces, classical dishes, etc), but I am not bound to 4 oz of this, tablespoon of that.

Where I work now, I pretty much can glimpse at a short menu description of something, and know how to bring it together. My chef might hand me a special of the night sheet that reads "Seared scallops with a warm apple, arugula, and toasted almond salad drizzled with a mango-honey emulsion" and that is pretty much all I have to work with. Of course each restaurant is different, I have seen places that will swear by their recipe book, others have one collecting dust in the chef's office.
post #3 of 9
For me I tweak the basic's I learned in collage, past work places and even late night food network shows, if you know the basics of food you can tweak almost any thing. I try to push food to different boundaries while staying realistic, I study combinations (you know "what works with what" and "What does not") and listen to the latest fads in the cooking world. Dont be scared to taste different things, local things, exotic things and weird things, this help develop your pallet. As you know a develop pallet is the strongest weapon in a Chefs arsenal. Hope this helps. Aloha.
post #4 of 9
Been in the game for about 5-6 years, followed alot of recipes and just learned what the chef liked after a while and started my own combinations. Course it took a while to feel comfortable with just basic sauces and i STILL can't tell you everything in a sauce or rub or marinade. I don't think any chef can, what they can tell you is the main flavors of a sauce, garlic and citrus, or sesame and sweet chili's, and a few of the spices they think they can spot such as tamari, wasabi, paprika, nutmeg etc.. this is the kind of thing that leads to a sauce or dish that is very close to the original but lacks something or occasionally surpasses the original. It's also the reason this forum exists.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
post #5 of 9

No pro no mo'.

I have always developed my own recipes based on things I've tasted, or on recipes I've read. I've always read a lot of recipes to gain ideas, but seldom followed one exactly -- even in baking. I considered other folks' cooking as a starting place.

That's still true, but for the last few years as I've become more interested in teaching and in publishing, I've been a little more tied to the page at least inso far as noting my own variances. I've also begun taking more exact note of what and how I cook. My own notes used to be very vague, "running recipes," and now I've got a few hundred of my own "perfected." Almost everything I cook reflects my "philosophy" of cooking -- which has to do with using repeatable techniques to create relatively simple flavor themes. That is, each meal, each course, and each dish on a plate tells a story with one element predominating and the rest supporting. In part because of the technique and theme based style, and in part because my seasoning levels are so consistent, it's easy for me to co-opt new dishes and stamp them with my "signature."

Restaurant and catering cooking is different from most home cooking. Recipes are tested and adjusted until perfected, before being served. The menu is largely controlled by the customers (or clients). If a customer has a dish they particularly like in a restaurant, they'll order it again expecting the same thing. If they attend a catered affair and like your style, they will hire and expect the same style -- if not the same dishes. Woe unto you if you do not deliver. If they dont get what they want, they get upset, you get it in the neck. The disappointment at home may be the same, but the consequences are different. Also, at home they're stuck with eating the experiments. And darn lucky to get them. You always hurt the ones you love -- the best things in life are free.

post #6 of 9
My only claim to professional is catering BBQ but I love cooking of all kinds. I make my menu's according to what I have on hand then start to add seasoning that fits. I rarely follow a recipe unless I am baking.
post #7 of 9
You always hurt the ones you love -- the best things in life are free.

ROTFL's interesting finding your writing voice. It's been a job of mine to edit and rewrite visiting chef's recipes for print.
When I've had my own recipes published (30 minute or less) having a scribe (neice or son) with a clock on hand take notes as I cook. Timing is more accurate, amounts are then measured....

A couple of personal chef clients have asked for recipes through the years, there are 3 I don't share.....they are too easy and too used by me.

Most of the time I cook with no recipes, occasionally looking at proportions for baking. Such as the lamb meatballs I made monday with ground lamb, pinenuts, pomagranite (sp?) molasses, egg, bread crumbs, onions, s&P, garlic, thyme, little rosemary. It was a rift off a standard other than beef/pork meatball.
Chicken Meatballs goes something like this.....ground chicken, pecans, orange zest, tarragon, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper, onion, small garlic......

Cake Roulades.....adaptions of sweet potato jelly roll with cream cheese frosting was just knowing what the consistency should be.

When you're cooking multiple things at one time, typical of personal cheffing, having to measure and refer to recipes is time consuming.....

I've worked for both kinds of chefs.....those that use standardized recipes and those like Paul Prudhomme that rift. I prefer the later.
It seems more and more the events I book are chef's choice.....

Finger dessert selection, bars,cookies, pastries
Cheese Selection with crackers, fruit, nuts
Lemon Rosemary Punch.....

Works well for me.

After writing this I realized that most of my cookies are recipes, bars are proportion cooking but most of the cookies are measured/weighed.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #8 of 9
That about hits it for me. I guess you could say almost everything I have done is an original adaptation.:rolleyes: It's really all anyone does anymore. Most things are just revisions of revions of the original. Plus my career choices, regardless of success (or longevity) haven't hurt either.:look:
post #9 of 9
I have a good recipe book in my signature its really good and worth taking a look at
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