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Food Words and Expressions I Don't Like Because I'm Old and Cranky - Page 6

post #151 of 161

Ha ha yes they make super muffins too...

post #152 of 161

Yep, that's me.  I like the parts on ICA when they tell who the judge is and gives some sort of credentials.  However, there seem to be some folks that make it as judges simply because they're famous.  I've seen actors and singers on there.  I want someone as a judge who knows more about food than "I know what I like".  I guess the difference is that I accept I have no business being a culinary judge and wish others who also have no business being one would also accept that :). 


On the subject of KB, I saw an episode from 2005 and she has made some drastic changes to her appearance (I'm not insinuating surgery, just healthier eating habits).  I've always considered her attractive from the more recent episodes, but kudos to her on making whatever changes she's made.  (Not that it matters, but I'm "morbidly obese" -- I hate that phrase, so I'm really not saying anything negative about her, I'm simply remarking on her making changes that really look nice). 

Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I suspect, Gobblygook, this reflects more on your unfamiliarity with the judges then with reality. Wasn't it you who thought Eric Ripart was a snob, because you didn't know who he was?


Let's see, off the top of my head, here are some of the people---regular judges all---who, according to your definition, are pretending to know more about food than they do:


Geoffrey Steingarten: Food editor for Vogue; book author; international food lecturer.

Donatella Arpia: Restaurant developer; chef; consultant; cookbook author.

Kareem Bartom (sp?): Public relations and marketing consultant specializing in culinary matters.

Andrew Knowlton: Food & restaurant critic for Bon Appetite.





post #153 of 161

However, there seem to be some folks that make it as judges simply because they're famous.


I'm sure there's some truth to that. But don't discount somebody's knowledge just because they're 1. a celebrity, and 2. not part of the industry. Most of the non-cooking people are celebrities, it's true. But many of them are also serious at-home cooks. And they're almost all foodies, who spend more time in upscale restaurants in a month then most of us do in our lifetimes. It's very rare, at least in the shows I've seen, where they don't know about food in addition to wherever their primary noteriety lies.


You ever watch the Today show? Pay attention to the cooking segments, and who hosts them. It's very apparent which of the staff knows food and which doesn't. Now think about which of them has appeared as a judge on ICA.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #154 of 161

Oh, really. see


In addition some states have organic certification programs. Inspection is pretty rigorous as are the rules. My brain tells me most of the whole organic fad is perception. Plants cannot tell the difference between nitrate from animal waste and that from urea (which soil bacteria transform to nitrate), or ammonium nitrate.


As far as I'm concerned free range chickens are running around the farmyard picking up what didn't get used by the cow or horse. Now I  know that is not economically feasible but it sounds nice.


I harvest true free range venison, no antibiotics, growth promoters, etc: same for an occasional grouse or rabbit.


post #155 of 161

Hi, Wa Hunter. Welcome to Cheftalk.


One word of helpful advice. If you're going to respond to older posts it's a good idea to do some cut & pasting, so that we more easily know what you're referring to. For instance, the discussion about organic on this thread took place a month ago. Not exactly on the top of anyone's mind.


But, being as you brought it up.


The federal organic certification program applies to produce only. There are no national standards, in the U.S., regarding livestock. So when a producer talks about organically grown beef, for instance, it's a marketing term, nothing more. Same goes for terms such as "range fed," "natural," and so forth.


Yes there are some states whose organic programs are more stringent than the federal program. California and Oregon are most noteable among them. In fact, Oregon Tilth is probably the toughest program in the country, and many of us hoped, when talk of a federal program first emerged, that it would be used as the model. Alas, the factory farms all but wrote the regs, so they're considerably watered down from there.


On your other point, you're correct. Vegetable plants require 16 nutrients, 3 majors and the rest in minor quantities. So long as those nutrients are in soluble form, the plant doesn't care whether they come from manure or from Monsanto. But organic growing is more a matter of one's orientation to the land. True organic growers see themselves as stewards of the soil, rather than exploiters of it. Their basic axiom: If you want to grow good plants, grow good soil. The organics divisions of the factory farms have a totally different viewpoint.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #156 of 161

Well said, well written and right on.



Let me put it this way. A little over a week ago I ate in a college dormitory cafeteria. Classic style: hot stuff in steamer trays, open salad bar with sneeze guard, drink dispensers, pick up your tray and dishes and silverware as you come in, that stuff. Everything was labeled. One station had pizza, and the sign said, "Our signature crust topped with...." Give me a break already!


I think the word "signature" makes sense in precisely one context: celebrity chefs and their restaurants. When people go, let's say, to Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger restaurant, a lot of them want to get Ming's "signature" dishes. But what in fact does this mean? Does it mean that the other dishes on the menu are not up to Chef Tsai's standards? In his case, at least, no --- for a celebrity chef, he is remarkably hands-on and deeply involved in his restaurant. (I've eaten there four times and every time he was working in the open kitchen with his people.) What "signature" means here is simply "you're looking for the celebrity chef experience, and here is a dish this celebrity developed for this restaurant and has kept on the menu a long time, so we recommend that dish for you."


The problem is that I don't like the whole celebrity chef thing. I mean, I don't mind a chef being famous and lauded, but the "celebrity chef" shtick irritates me. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the chef should be famous and lauded if his restaurant is consistently spectacular, not because he appears on TV. And I think a truly great chef is one who can train his people so well that there is no difference between a dish made entirely by the chef and one made by one of his cooks.


[Edited to add...]

An important negative dimension of "signature" for me is the way it pivots gastronomy on the question of novelty as opposed to tedium. Not so long ago, if you went to a top-notch French restaurant, what was on the menu was entirely as expected. Novelty was not really on offer. If you ordered tournedos Rossini, you got that dish, executed brilliantly, and you would have been shocked if there had been some novel alteration made. After all, if there had been such a change, the dish wouldn't be tournedos Rossini any longer. In a great deal of contemporary American restaurant culture, however, there is a notion that anything that is not new and different, to which the chef hasn't added his own personal alternative style and spin, is just boring. In part, what "signature dish" means is this: "unlike some other dishes on this menu, this is something in which the chef has expressed his personal style very strongly, to create a novel dish that speaks of who he is." I can only take this kind of thing remotely seriously when the chef in question is very, very good. Thus my reference before to Paul Bocuse's truffle soup: the man did invent this dish, and he deserves credit for it --- but very few chefs are Paul Bocuse. I think that there is now this drive to create, to be new and different, and that this drive is strongly instantiated in this term "signature dish." I would rather focus on brilliance of execution than on novel creation, and I think a good deal of the celebrity chef thing is based on telling diners that novelty is ipso facto a good thing --- and this often allows the restaurant to cover up weak execution.


Consider sushi restaurants. I don't know about the rest of the country, but I can tell you that in New England and at least to some degree New York a sushi menu will normally have a long list of "special" maki and usually at least a few "signature" maki. These things are, with few exceptions, complex concoctions of a wide range of ingredients. One of the things I learned in Japan is how fundamentally odd this is in terms of Japanese gastronomy: what makes good sushi or sashimi is its utter purity, the way you can't hide weaknesses. If the fish is fabulous and excellently cut, and the ponzu or shoyu and wasabi are of superlative quality, it's good. Many people can evaluate whether the sushi rice is good and the nigiri well-formed; I can't, but that's because I don't like it and normally order sashimi instead. If you pile up 18 ingredients together, you can get away with murder: how is anyone going to know if the fish is really all that good? That's fine if it's the intent --- if you're knocking together cheap maki rolls for on-the-dash dining, you want to use inexpensive scraps and do everything you can to obscure the quality so it's not unpalatable. But the idea of slamming together mounds of dramatically contrasting ingredients and using this as a selling point strongly suggests that your customers don't know the difference between okay fish and great fish. And yet, you'll constantly see in sushi restaurant reviews that the reviewer will harp on the exciting, novel combinations in the signature maki, and note only in passing that, yes, the ordinary standards are good too. Here the whole conception of novelty --- and celebrity, too, if you think about the way "creative" sushi gets located in the hot celebrity world --- undermines quality and taste, and "signature" becomes a constant sign of this effect.

[end edit]


So my problem with "signature" is twofold. On the one hand, it is grossly overused, to the point that all it means is "we don't think this sucks." On the other hand, it encourages people to select their food based on fame and publicity, and in many cases also to do so without regard for things like seasonality: if a dish is always on the menu, it's not seasonal, by definition --- not that all dishes must be seasonal, but I don't like anything that encourages people to think seasonality is irrelevant or a matter of pure hype (which all too often it is, of course).


I should note that I do not fault Chef Tsai for using the term. He's got a business to run, and he does a very good job of it. Part of his customer base -- a significant part -- is people attracted by his celebrity status, and they expect menus that cater to their celebrity-chef expectations. As it happens, I also like at least one of his "signature" dishes, a soup with foie gras shu mai. It's the term I object to, and I only single out Ming Tsai because I have absolutely no other objections to the man and his work.

Edited by Paul Palumbo - 1/2/11 at 1:24pm
post #157 of 161

I've considered toying around with a "chef's special" which would be a dish not normally served, with ingredients purchased for that specific purpose.  An example would be a lamb dish, in a restaurant that doesn't normally serve lamb.  In such instances, it's not "oh crap, I have too much x and need to push it" but rather a true special dish for that day.




That in fact is what a chef's special should be.  The last restaurant I worked in was Restaurant Du Village, in Chester, CT.  The menu truly reflected the seasons, and there were specials that ran for a week never more.  The ingredients were purchased specifically for that dish and weren't culled from the leftovers.  The owners of this restaurant were truly gracious and allowed me to cook the leftovers for the daily employee meal.  We ate good.  



post #158 of 161

On the subject of words and phrases that rub me the wrong way, and someone said it before, anything that comes out of the mouth of Rachel Ray.  And please with all this celebrity chef garbage.  I mean I don't fault them for taking advantage of an opportunity to make a pile of money from being in this profession.  God knows it's difficult enough to make a living doing what we do.  But give me a break.  How about the guy that gets out of bed at 4 in the morning to get ready for breakfast, making everything from scratch.  And this after he went to bed at 1 or 2 am shutting down the operation and making sure all systems are go for the morning.  To me those guys are the celebrities.  They are the ones that deserve the recognition and seldom if ever get it.  Just saying.

post #159 of 161

Agchef, love referring to accents being the flavoring of an area....

As one who was an Airforce brat, Army (ex) wife I've lived in CA, Little Rock, Memphis, New Orleans & Southern Louisiana, and St. Louis....each has it's own accent, cadences & idioms, just go down into Cajun country and have a cup of chicory coffee thick as mud with beingets (baya's is how it's pronounced in deep bayou areas).....


Organic will drive you crazy....just know your farmers as much as possible, visit their farms & ask questions.


Our local paper's food editor is a journalist not a "foodie", on her staff are two writers/reviewers who are serious food-beer people.

I've judged contests, organized contests, worked with celebrities in the food world......Just because you can cook does not mean you have a good stage presence (top-tier chef who has international acclaim is a prime example), just because you can work a crowd does not mean you have food's really cool to work with people that have both...Sara Moulton is a great example. Judging contests is not always fun....seriously....17 apple pies in a contest by #10 you are ready to give up totally on your fav dessert....


Yesterday my inner curmudgeon kicked in when my sister in law asked if the eclairs her 10 year old daughter and I made were from scratch? What, is there a friggin' mix for eclairs now? unreal!....cranky curmudgeon aunty.

cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #160 of 161

"The Chef's Inspiration".


I can deal with "....Special" but "inspiration" seems just a little too intimate -- and customer unfocused --  for me.

post #161 of 161

Thank you ALL

I killed the better part of today's off time reading this thread. The "word/expression" I can't stand, it makes me want to choke whoever said/says it is: "DECONSTRUCTED". Kiss Off. You're telling me that you took some kinda stupid dish that has no "specialness" at all, broke it into parts, and are trying to serve it to me in some kinda "new way" to give it "specialness". Take a hike. 


Anyway, here's what I think about what everyone else has said (all in a good ITB brothers-in-arms sorta way).


I got no problem w/ veggie(s), but I can see how some of you could.    I love Rachel Ray. I love "Yum-o", "DE-lish" and "sammys". Sorry. Anything she says is golden. Before you get on me about this, it's all a guy thing. I don't care if she's cooking or anything else at all. It's just her. Let me say this too now. It's the same w/ me for Giada. When you're watching her show you're not looking at the food. Don't lie. You're looking at her. Because of the way she says anything, I go out of my way to speak improperly (Eye-talian). I mean no disrespect though. I am Eye-talian.  I could watch Sandra Lee make mud-pies, and I'd eat them w/ a smile for a chance to see her on the beach again. Like I said, it's a guy thing. In the other direction, I've always been happy w/ Kat Cora, even though she cuts from the other side of the fillet. In closing this part, I'd be happier than happy to let Anne Burrell become the next Mrs. IceMan. Yes, that's right. She is hot too. I love chicks that actually eat what they order, not leaving the most expensive menu item on the plate saying "I'm full", or "I'm on a diet". Being that she was Mario's sous, I would think that she has appreciation for us more "rotund" kinda guys.    There are a number of different main ingredients to make pesto with; almost anything green, leafy and herbal, it doesn't have to be basil.    The problem w/ people fouling up "au jus" is because they don't speak French.    "On the fly" doesn't bother me.    "Homemade" is made by me on-the-spot wherever I am. With "fresh" ingredients that I just picked up before making the dish, even if it's a restaurant. You can't make the stuff I make the way I make it or you wouldn't be at the place I'm making it. So yes, it's homemade by me.    I can't stand the Neeleys. Sorry.    "86" is OK too.   "Fire roasted" means an open fire. Like at a lot of pizza places. How many commercial ovens give you open fires like that? They "oven roast". There is the difference.    I have made both "grilled" and "deep fried" lasagna. It can be done.    I can tolerate "sorry about that" much more than "my bad".    Lots of my dishes are "famous", for two reasons. I worked for a placed named "Famous", and a good deal of people come to me asking for a dish they claim to be "famous" based on their own feelings.    I hate, I mean really hate special foreign names for regular stuff; the words "haricot verts" and "chinoise" both got me into fights in school because I didn't know what they were. LOL @ Me.    "Made to order", hello?, ever order a pizza? they're "made to order" then and there.    No chance do I ever touch "hand spanked fruit".    "Signature", same as "famous". People come to order/eat "signature" dishes of mine because nobody else makes them as good or the same way. They're "my" signature dishes.    "Authentic" means that I am following a recipe all the way through, without swapping anything out, the same way it's creator (or whoever wrote out the recipe) did. No big deal.    Forget wine vocabulary/jargon, don't mess with it. Never fight w/ wine geeks. It ainte worth the effort. "Cat piss" and "barnyard" are very accepted terms in the wine world.    "Hand sliced", prime-rib vs. cold-cuts. "Hand selected"; lots of really nasty produce gets through machine sorting. "Hand made"; real ravioli vs. Chef Boyardie.    "Pea - Cons".    "Chefs Specials'' are those non-menued dishes I'm making because I got a great deal just then on what makes it up, or dishes that I like to make every once in a while.    "Hand cut fries" are made throughout the day with a push press, not out of a freezer bag.    Waitstaff suggesting their "favorite dishes" is a very important trade trick. When people don't have an idea, the waitstaff can lead them to what I really want to put out that evening. It does not in any way equal push something we've got too much of or are trying to get rid of.    "Hots-A-Pom".    Another of my side-professions is working for a pet-food maker. YES, I do taste the dog food.    I can't stand over 90% of the ICA judges. I'd name them, but I'd probably become offensive.    I really like fresh blueberries.    "The Chef's Inspiration". I have lots of those. Making a Celebrity TV chef's dish at less than a third the price and then feeding four times the people as they did. Yeah, that inspires me. 


OK, that's it. Thanks for sitting through that whole show. I hope I didn't put you to sleep. I love this forum. 


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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