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the simple 'art' of cooking

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

please indulge me a short rant...lord only knows where it's coming from....i think that with all the talk lately about cake testers instead of fingers and eyes, pressure cooking risotto instead of smelling and stirring and watching, bread machines replacing breadmaking, just got me thinking....in what direction is the 'art' of cooking heading? is there still an 'art' of cooking that exists or is it being replaced with 'stuff' to make it easier to get the food on the plate, but removes you farther from the food?  seems to me the senses; eyes, ears, nose, fingers and the whole sensuality of cooking is being replaced.  are you as chefs part of the problem or part of the solution?  helping, hindering, changing  or taking the easy way out?...it's really overwhelmingly sad for me to believe that it may become a lost art..... a lost challenge

i certainly am not against change or technological advances...but i am concerned and somewhat afraid of the destruction and lack of respect for this wonderful art form in the name of progress...we as serious chefs need to do more than hope that it will just get better...we need to be proactive, nurture and continue to teach and to do things the artisan way, not always the easy way

thanks for the indulgence.......any thoughts?

joey

yes, i realize that there is a time and a place for everything, but i cannot tell you all the times when cooking a roast or a prime rib or a whole beef tenderloin in the oven when the meat thermometer said one thing, but my all my senses signaled another.....and i was 99.99% right every time


Edited by durangojo - 8/14/12 at 8:31pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #2 of 33

I think you have touched on a very timely issue.

 

 When large corporations started to make their mark in the food service industry it became necessary to go the route of convenience products and equipment for the sake of consistency and lack of talented cooks..  

 

Think fast food places where a timer goes off to tell you when to take the fry basket out of the oil, or a microwave (shudder) goes off on a pre-set timer for breakfast sandwiches.

 

In some upscale eateries many of the items are made some place else and shipped to the restaurant to be simply re-heated for service. 

 

It seems as though only fine dining venues cook more from scratch, although even then things like bases and soup and sauce mixes are also used.

 

Business savy has taken a backseat to the art of cooking. 

post #3 of 33

Tools such as cake testers can be useful but they should not be a substitute for experience. I can accurately temp prime ribs by touch. Does this mean that I don't use a thermometer when cooking prime rib? No.

 

I learned the craft by starting at step one, not short cutting to step five. A chef who knows 1-10 can always jump ahead to 5. A chef who knows 5-10 can not always do 1-4 and sometime in a long career, it might come in handy to be able to do that.

 

One of my mentors and the best chef i ever worked for taught me that it is possible to thicken soup with tapioca. When questioned about it, because it definitely was not in his style in any shape or fashion, he told me that even though I would probably never specifically use it, I could never know too many techniques and skills and the knowledge and understanding behind those could prove to be helpful at some time if my mind was open. He offered that soup at the restaurant that evening, which by the was was incredible, strictly to expand my knowledge base. No wonder I consider him a mentor and role model!

 

A PBO salmon could be considered a tool, but I prefer and also know what to do with a whole salmon with the gills still in it. That knowledge can also be used to break down whole sturgeon, halibut, tuna, etc. I have worked with chefs that can't do that. They have limited them selves.

 

Roasted coffee beans, a tool. Coffee roaster, another tool. I actually roast my coffee beans in a pan on the stove top because I can.

 

I don't mention these things to show off. My point is that cooking is a hands on art and the further away from that I get, the more soul my finished product loses.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 33

I think there is a time and a place for everything.  In the kitchen in a restaurant where skilled cooks of all levels work isnt necessarily the place to have short cut items, at home when time/money maybe tight and knowledge is limited, maybe. 

Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #5 of 33

The only thing I don't have a problem with is pre-peeled garlic cloves. Take away pre-peeled garlic and I quit! 

post #6 of 33

Agreed. Being only 24 and doing things... I guess I could only describe as "old school" now.... where everything is done by hand and very traditional. Everything is coming prepackaged, pre-broken down, prepared bullshit. I've lost some respect for some of the people I work with for simple asking the question "why don't we just buy ground beef?"

 

A place I worked at a couple years ago would buy in frozen gnocchi. I told the chef that I could make it in under an hour for much cheaper and also better quality. I was raised on it, my grandma brought her recipe for it FROM Northern Italy when she came over. I can make it while in a coma... but he still decided to buy in because it "kept longer" I'll stop there before I go off on a longer, nonsensical rant

 

I was talking to my 19 year old line cook Sunday. It's just me and him every Sunday. Just before opening I was sauteing mushrooms for the next couple hour's orders, I asked him... "Can you hear that?" and he said "what?" I said "you can hear the exact moment the mushrooms want the wine so they can absorb it" and as soon as I heard it, hit it with wine and I looked at him... saw a glimmer of hope. He's not the best, but every day I can see him pick something else up from me or chef or one of the other cooks that shows he's getting better

 

 

 

I hope you guys older than me don't take "old school" as offensive when I used the term. I don't know how to describe it any other way. I just feel like I'm one of the last of the generation of doing everything and not taking shortcuts

post #7 of 33

I agree with Chefhow, ChefRoss and in in particular with Cheflayne.

  This is problem the culinary schools do not address and should.

They give you a recipe and that is thats fine, but what if you are lacking a specific ingredient or 2 ? They don't tell you what to do or use instead. I have seen this 100s of times. That knowlege comes only from experience, and doing and testing . Everyone should know scratch cooking just in case that prepared item does not arrive that day on time. If it does'nt your screwed if you can't do it.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 33

"Everyone should know scratch cooking just in case that prepared item does not arrive that day on time"

 

All valid points. The other day a cook called me up asking me what to do regarding a dish he was making, it called for baking powder and he didn't have any in left in stock.

So I told him to use cream of tartar and baking soda .......

 

The nightmare is when you can look at the frozen department and see all the ready made breakfast packages that are on the shelves, "you want bacon and egg muffin", no problem, "microwave for 3 minutes". You want a turkey dinner", no problem, "microwave for ten minutes"....... the industry/commercialism is to blame and the person who buys it. Why does he buy it ? Because there is a demand for it.  Fast food nation.

 

Time is money and money is time. The average housewife USED to stay home and cook. Now she is out working because it takes two salaries to pay the mortgage etc.. But go back 25 years or more, that same woman was home baking cakes and making meals for her family, she learned the art of cooking. Today, that same woman does not have the time/or won't make the time.

 

In a commercial kitchen, all pre packaged fish, ready made sauces, in fact alot of it is : JUST ADD WATER. I have been into bakeries where there are containers of ready made cake batches, the baker tells they just need to add water and it tastes like homemade.......I had to leave.....

 

That is what this generation has become. Who is to blame ?

 

Petals.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
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Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(163 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #9 of 33

Last weekend the grands wanted lasagna.

MY lasagna.

I have been cooking and for sure baking less this summer, so had to do a largish grocery shop for ingredients.

Add a few other things (cokes, fruit) to the basket and my checkout bill was almost $100, no coupons, lol.

I know for a fact that you can get a "rustic" style (tomatoes, nice meat, good cheese) lasagna produced by a major food company that will feed 4-6 for under $10.

I have tasted it and to be quite honest it was nice.

Look around and tell me everyone you know has a hundred bucks to spend on one meal, of course I did have ingredients left over for the next few days but still...

A good tomato will set you back almost two dollars.

I don't pretend to know all the answers, but I do have a laundry list of the problems (and causes), just cannot post on this type of forum.

 

** oops didn't adress the OP.

I guess what it boils down to is this.

People get sticker shock just buying food for the home.

Why not eat at Micky D's or even a TGI Fridays or Chili's.

Unless you live on cereal and sandwiches, it is cheaper.

post #10 of 33
Quote:

People get sticker shock just buying food for the home.

Why not eat at Micky D's or even a TGI Fridays or Chili's.

Unless you live on cereal and sandwiches, it is cheaper.

The reason those places are cheaper is because they don't prepare things the same as I do at home. When I make a hamburger at home it sure as hell doesn't resemble a quarter pounder.

 

Restaurants have to buy ingredients just like home cooks do. An item bought at a grocery store will not be any cheaper from a purveyor (to restaurants) because basically you are paying to have someone bring product to you. Also restaurants have to pay cooks to produce the meals, another cost. So if eating at a restaurant is cheaper than eating at home, the math is easy. It is cheaper due to inferior product.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #11 of 33

You hit the nail on the head.

I am just pointing out that for the oh let's just say 3-4 years prices have increased....on everything.

To set up a home kitchen to cook great (even mediocre) food is going to cost a chunk of change that could be applied to rent, gas to get to work....maybe Cobra ins 'cuz you've been laid off.

Whatever.

So you eat cereal at home, go to work (if you have a job) maybe drag a sandwich from home for break (lucky us, we get to enjoy the "family meal") and pick up something cheap to eat for dinner 'cuz you only have a few bucks left till payday this Friday...and you will need to save that for gas.

Because you have to do the repeat tomorrow.

Totally not trying to poke the bear, lol.

Just hopin' and prayin' that things start looking up "late this fall".

post #12 of 33

If all the places  bought that lasagna,  what would make you choose one place over another to go to , when they all taste the same. Same goes for all other already made entrees. Maybe it would be the color of tha paint on their wall or how close to the house.

This to me is not dining, this is  glorified fast food with a white tablecloth. like Red Lobster. or Olive Garden

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 

people can eat well and healthy if kept simply enough. it just takes some planning and doing...all the money saved by eating at mickey d's or the like or primarily eating processed foods will be spent at the doctor's office down the road...that's a fact.

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #14 of 33

There is fueling and then there is eating.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 

to worsen it, all the current indicators point to even higher food price increases, pretty much across the board.... mostly due to this very prolonged blasted drought and heat and some due to supply and demand, such as beef(which is also very drought affected). produce at the farmer's market is higher i've noticed this summer...i'm guessing because it takes more water to irrigate. i expect some kind of price increase, but not to the extent i've seen...soooo, what to do? how does one go about feeding their family healthy, nutritious meals and still make it interesting and fun? no one wants to eat pork and beans every night.  actually what i understand least of all is how anyone can afford to shop and feed their families buying at WF's or the like. i am fairly conscientious about what i eat, but come on....organic asparagus for $11.99 a lb. or from your local groceria for $3.99......not a hard choice....for $3.99 a lb i'll wash it 3 times if i have to!  all of these price increases will get passed along to every food store, hot dog stand, mobile truck, caterer and restaurant. who knows how it will will affect them, but it will. sadly some will be forced to close, the lucky ones will have to reinvent themselves and downsize again for the upteenth time or risk going out of business. geez, not to sound pessimistic, but sure sounds like we're all dust bowl children....of course if you really want to get depressed we can always talk about the disparity between the rich and the poor's eating habits! ...... oh,the horror

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

The reason those places are cheaper is because they don't prepare things the same as I do at home. When I make a hamburger at home it sure as hell doesn't resemble a quarter pounder.

 

Restaurants have to buy ingredients just like home cooks do. An item bought at a grocery store will not be any cheaper from a purveyor (to restaurants) because basically you are paying to have someone bring product to you. Also restaurants have to pay cooks to produce the meals, another cost. So if eating at a restaurant is cheaper than eating at home, the math is easy. It is cheaper due to inferior product.

 

Do you cost out your recipes?  If I buy a case of tomatoes directly from a farmer, it is going to be significantly less per tomato than when you buy 2-3 from your local grocery store.  How is the tomato you get at a grocery store,  that traveled half way across the country and wasn't even ripened properly (gassed to turn the color red), better quality than the one I buy bulk directly from the farmer.  The tomato is just one example.  Also, if I order 1,000 worth of product from purveyor they don't charge me for delivery.  Restaurants buy wholesale, we get our product for less than you do in the store. Regarding labor, one cook takes 45 minutes - 1 hour to prep 100 portions of Lasagna at $12 an hour.  That is 9-12 cents per portion. 

 

Regarding the OP, everything has a time and place in the Culinary world.  Yes, I learned how to make puff pastry by hand.  I also don't see any reason why you shouldn't use a sheeter.  For educational purposes I will always teach someone how to make it by hand first.  You get a better feeling, and the organic understanding.  I will also explain what is occurring when you bake it.  How the water content in the butter evaporates, leavening the alternating layers of dough as it bakes, causing the "puff".  You can't be too hardened against change and innovation.  Technological advancement will continue to affect every aspect of our lives.  If our most skilled and talented craftsman are refusing to use every resource available how will we continue to grow and define our own food and place in time?  Yes, have an understanding of food from Joe Caveman to Escoffier. NO, do not become closed minded, especially at a young age.

 

A little off topic, but here is an equation that may help.  Effort < Effect, Cost < Profitability, Creativity = Popularity.  (effort+cost) / creativity (= or <) (effect + popularity) / profitability.  I know it doesn't translate into actual numbers but they are all things that I take into account when analyzing a menu item.

post #17 of 33

One day Sysco came with an order about $4000.00. On the  bottom of last invoice they added on for delivery, yet at that particular time gas was going down around July 4th. No one ,salesman, computer or anything else mentioned that prior. I told driver take back the whole order I refuse it and refuse to pay delivery charge, The price of product has all of that already built in. Can I charge my customer a delivery charge ? No I can't and I would not. They called  me up and started to tell me about their cost I told them I should deduct becuse gas was going down and that was also built into their price     . Delivery price waived

Price of corn goes up, next day Ice cream goes up or paper will go up as will the price of a toilet seat. They have enough corn in storage where they dont have to up everything the next day. Its just plain GREED. Screw the consumer seems to be the name of the game.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #18 of 33
From what our beef supplier is saying, most farms are taking their stock in early so the prices are only going to get worse come November or December

Bad for us steakhouses
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by succotash View Post

 

Do you cost out your recipes?  If I buy a case of tomatoes directly from a farmer, it is going to be significantly less per tomato than when you buy 2-3 from your local grocery store.  How is the tomato you get at a grocery store,  that traveled half way across the country and wasn't even ripened properly (gassed to turn the color red), better quality than the one I buy bulk directly from the farmer.  The tomato is just one example.  Also, if I order 1,000 worth of product from purveyor they don't charge me for delivery.  Restaurants buy wholesale, we get our product for less than you do in the store. Regarding labor, one cook takes 45 minutes - 1 hour to prep 100 portions of Lasagna at $12 an hour.  That is 9-12 cents per portion. 

 

I have costed out a couple of recipes over the course of my career.

 

I can also purchase tomatoes for home use from farmers so I am not relegated to a tomato  that traveled half way across the country and wasn't even ripened properly (gassed to turn the color red).

 

Even with your free delivery for a $1,000 order, your buying wholesale, and your labor cost 9-12 cents for a portion of lasgana; I find it hard to believe (if I bought the exact same ingredients that you do for lasagna), that it would cost me more to prepare it at home; than it would to come into your restaurant and purchase it for dinner.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

One day Sysco came with an order about $4000.00. On the  bottom of last invoice they added on for delivery, yet at that particular time gas was going down around July 4th. No one ,salesman, computer or anything else mentioned that prior. I told driver take back the whole order I refuse it and refuse to pay delivery charge, The price of product has all of that already built in. Can I charge my customer a delivery charge ? No I can't and I would not. They called  me up and started to tell me about their cost I told them I should deduct becuse gas was going down and that was also built into their price     . Delivery price waived

Price of corn goes up, next day Ice cream goes up or paper will go up as will the price of a toilet seat. They have enough corn in storage where they dont have to up everything the next day. Its just plain GREED. Screw the consumer seems to be the name of the game.

chefed,

i could feel your blood pressure rising with your last post. you are exactly right about a 'fuel' surcharge being added onto invoices...mine is there week in and week out no matter what the price of fuel is. i'm not buying this particular brand of snakeoil (higher gas prices) form the food purveyors, as i think it's just another way for them to 'stick it' to us all. they know we will pass the cost along to the consumer....we are really just their henchmen....the price of doing business or getting the business??? as you pointed out, there is already a charge rolled into the product price to begin with. as we all realize, there is a sliding price scale depending on volume. volume buyers get bigger discounts...that's the norm....that's fine....if i were buying in volume i would expect the same...it is the nickel and diming that drives me crazy.....a $5 surcharge here, a $5 surcharge there....god, sometimes it's a wonder anybody makes it in this business! we have to be ever vigilent about checking and double checking invoices.....

@succotash,

i am in no way poo-pooing advances in technology. i welcome them....applaud many.  some have made my life ALOT easier for sure. to name a few; peeled garlic, shallots and pearl onions, iqf boneless skinless chicken breast, iqf veal cutlets, shoot, iqf anything.  returning to my original post, my concern is that the simple 'art' of cooking and food may be getting lost or at the very least compromised. knowledge, techniques, skills and understanding and love of food are being traded in for the sake of progress....what progress?  getting the food on the plate faster?  so the diner can eat faster, pay up faster and leave sooner...then the next one takes his place. seems this is also part social issue....that we are in such a hurry these days. that everything we do is hurried. we eat, not dine...no lingering over friends, conversation and good food for hours.....restaurants may want you to linger, but not too long...we gotta turn the table! it's all about the numbers and the bottom line and the numbers!

alrighty then,

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #21 of 33

THATS WHY i GO TO THE SOUCE OF PRODUCT WRATHER THEN THE SYSCO'S  (FIND OUT WHO THE BROKER IS) AND INVITE THEIR REP. TO SEE YOU

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by durangojo View Post

please indulge me a short rant...lord only knows where it's coming from....i think that with all the talk lately about cake testers instead of fingers and eyes, pressure cooking risotto instead of smelling and stirring and watching, bread machines replacing breadmaking, just got me thinking....in what direction is the 'art' of cooking heading? is there still an 'art' of cooking that exists or is it being replaced with 'stuff' to make it easier to get the food on the plate, but removes you farther from the food?  seems to me the senses; eyes, ears, nose, fingers and the whole sensuality of cooking is being replaced.  are you as chefs part of the problem or part of the solution?  helping, hindering, changing  or taking the easy way out?...it's really overwhelmingly sad for me to believe that it may become a lost art..... a lost challenge

i certainly am not against change or technological advances...but i am concerned and somewhat afraid of the destruction and lack of respect for this wonderful art form in the name of progress...we as serious chefs need to do more than hope that it will just get better...we need to be proactive, nurture and continue to teach and to do things the artisan way, not always the easy way

thanks for the indulgence.......any thoughts?

joey

yes, i realize that there is a time and a place for everything, but i cannot tell you all the times when cooking a roast or a prime rib or a whole beef tenderloin in the oven when the meat thermometer said one thing, but my all my senses signaled another.....and i was 99.99% right every time

 

I'll address the cake tester issue first since that seems directed at me. 

 

First of all, cake testers are by no means a "new" idea to hit cooking. In fact, sticking a thin skewer in meat to feel the temperature probably predates instant read and digital thermometers by many, many, many years. I first learned of the technique from an older chef, trained in classic french cooking who learned it while working for Fredy Giradet in Switzerland in the 80's. I know for a fact that the kitchens of Ripert, Colicchio, Keller, Bolud (and likely many, many more top level chefs) use them in the kitchen for many different things. 

 

It is another tool in the chef's toolkit. When I work the grill, I use a combination of touch, smell, sound, sight and using a cake tester to cook things. Can I tell how a filet is cooked by touch? Of course I can. I've cooked thousands. Slightly harder is a 28oz bone in ribeye, or a porterhouse, or larger steaks. Dry aged steaks can have different feel than a regular steak. A dry aged sirloin feels a lot different than a regular sirloin. Sometimes on a filet the grain of the meat will be loose, or the meat will be extra mushy, so touch might not be the best indicator. I know even the best cooks and chefs sometimes (even very very rarely) have steaks sent back because they "swore it felt medium rare" even when it turned out to be medium. Hell, maybe it only happens once out of every 2000 steaks, or once or twice a year, but it can, and does, still happen to the best cooks.  

 

Again, it's another tool. I'm not suggesting that if you are cooking a banquet for 500 people or working the grill at a turn-and-burn chain restaurant or mid-priced steakhouse you should probe every steak. 

 

But really, just because you and a handful of other chefs on this board haven't heard of this technique makes it no less valid or a replacement for the "art" of cooking. Just because you haven't heard of it before doesn't mean you should just summarily dismiss it because it doesn't jibe with what you think should be done.

 

Instead of rebelling against ideas that are new and different, maybe some of you would be better served by opening your mind to new things and accepting that you don't know the best/only way for everything. In every aspect of cooking there are probably dozens of ways to do things and, barring the obvious dangerous or outright terrible things, none of them less valid than the other. 

 

That all being said...

 

I agree that there is a downward trend happening in the industry. Some of it is just the natural course of things. Many things that used to be built by hand are now made by machines. In fact, most things are now made by machine so that saying something is "hand made" is a selling point rather than the norm. This trend is, and has been, working its way into the food industry for decades. You are right durangojo is that it is up to us, as the current generation of chefs, to make sure a lot of this stuff isn't lost. The trend on FoodTV, magazines, etc is to make everything "easy" and to not challenge or scare people. 

 

I also think that there is natural blowback towards things that are new and different. I imagine every time something new comes along there are chefs and cooks who scream that it is taking the art out of cooking. What did the chefs say when gas ovens and stoves first became the norm? I'm sure many of them rebelled against it, instead thinking that wood burning stoves and ovens were the one true way. Now gas is normal. Gas is the standard. Now wood is trendy (wood ovens, wood grills) instead of the only thing available. What did they say about refrigeration? Why do i need to store my food for a long time? I serve fresh food! I don't need to store it! Now, we refrigerate everything. It's normal. What about freezing? 

 

Now we have sous vide, induction cooking, combi-ovens, c-vaps, smoking guns, etc. A lot of current chefs rebel against this stuff. Oh, it takes the SOUL out of cooking. You don't even have to turn on the stove! ("You don't even have to light a wood oven anymore!") 

 

Should we hand back our blenders? Our robot coupes? Our hobart mixers? People said the same thing about these things I'm sure. "Oh, I don't even have to chop my vegetables anymore! Where is the craft in that?" "I don't have to knead dough by hand? A machine does it for me? Where is the bread making art in that?"

 

Everyone is nostalgic for the previous generation/era, the "good times" and whatnot. To me, this is an exciting time to be a chef. The availability of ingredients on a global scale, the technology being used in service of fine food, and the science behind our understanding of why food behaves the way it does (the chemistry, etc) is at an all time high. We should be embracing a lot of these things instead of being defeatist about them.

post #23 of 33

Someday is a champ.

post #24 of 33

You make some good points, Someday.  I feel this backlash is something that is often directed at sous vide cooking as well.  Many people think technology is crowding art out of the picture but to me the art is knowing how to best make use of the technology.  Hell, even fire is technology if you deconstruct it far enough!

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

Now we have sous vide, induction cooking, combi-ovens, c-vaps, smoking guns, etc. A lot of current chefs rebel against this stuff. Oh, it takes the SOUL out of cooking. You don't even have to turn on the stove! ("You don't even have to light a wood oven anymore!") 

 

In my opinion, a great chef is someone who can mix the new in with the old. Escoffier came along and simplified many of the things Carême started and made it much more organized. I feel that the great chefs of today are taking it to a whole new level those two guys never would have imagined but are doing the same. Back then, it was all technique and understanding of what you had in your pan cooking. Today we have more people than ever to feed. We have more money to be made. There is more supply and demand than ever now than there was before. We now have machines and modern inventions such as smoking guns that can trim down the time and produce a similar or perfect product using sous-vide methods and what not. 

 

I feel that a chef who would use the sous-vide technique to complete everything in his kitchen has a lack of understanding for the food and science behind it and is just lazy. He is not a chef. He is someone putting food into a sealed bag and letting the perfect temperature of water do the cooking for him with no technique. However a chef who can grill a steak to perfection and can use a needle or touch of the finger to tell the degree of doneness and can can create a sauce that pairs well with it all the meanwhile using the modern technique of sous-vide to cook broccoli to add to the dish is a real modern chef. He understands every technique and has the skills originally founded to create a dish with near perfect results. He is more organized and receives better results than a chef who can do all of that, but may produce soggy or under cooked broccoli in a steamer. Like you said, ''Instead of rebelling against ideas that are new and different, maybe some of you would be better served by opening your mind to new things and accepting that you don't know the best/only way for everything. In every aspect of cooking there are probably dozens of ways to do things and, barring the obvious dangerous or outright terrible things, none of them less valid than the other. ''

post #26 of 33

Theres so much to address in this post its ridiculous.  First of all, I'm glad Someday brought us all back to the original topic and got away from delivery charges on flippin Sysco invoices.  Second of all I'm appalled that so many of you are in agreement that the food industry is in a downward spiral and is being "destructed" and "disrespected".  Granted, I have had the luxury of living in L.A., NYC and now San Francisco, but it's a better time than EVER to get products that are handmade, artisanal, boutique, etc.  People are passionate about food and creating pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, beer, candy, kimchi, hummus, ice cream, salumi, bread, salsa, the list goes on.  I can go to the farmers market and get some pretty damn good pastrami, porchetta, ramen, bagels, dry aged burgers, salads, sausages, etc. from people who are passionate and LOVE food.  Can you say that about 25 years ago?  Probably not.  Yes, I get the fast food thing, the industrial production of crappy products to buy in bulk, the lack of serious, restaurant quality cooks, but i think the food industry pendulum swings high going both ways.  Plus, just stay way from that trash.

 

As for kitchen gadgets, they have their place.  I cant encapsulate uni puree.  Nor could i tell you what to do with an anti-griddle or a centrifuge.  I'm sure if I learned, I could find some cool stuff to do with those machines.  Do i think they are taking the art out of cooking?  No way.  Do i think they make things "faster" for the sake of "progress", depends.  Sure, I worked at a great place in NYC where we would sous vide (new school) our half chicken (which we butchered ourselves! old school) to about 60% cooked, and during service we would crack the bag, blot the skin and pan sear that sucker in a cast iron until the skin crisped up beautifully.  Did i mention we basted it too?  Thats old school.  We did more "old school" work by letting it rest then deglazed the pan with pepper pickling (pickling...old school, see!?) liquid, and mounted it with butter for a lovely pan sauce.  Did it 'crank out' that chicken in comparison to 'traditional' cooking, probably, but it also created some of the best chicken I've eaten.  

 

Bottom line for me, I can easily avoid the food and restaurants that lack quality.  I choose to sit at the bar of a local place that makes a nice "house ground" burger on a bun that, yes, they probably didn't make in house (!), but was purchased from a local company....not brought on a SYSCO truck.

post #27 of 33

As far as farmers markets. They are good however most large places can't buy this way because. the food won't be delivered in refrig trucks or in some cases the vendors are not really lisenced nor in many cases carry no liability or product insurance. Herbs and things like that are different. God forbid something happened, our insurance would not cover many of us.

Many of the guys on here are old school, Pete, Foodpump,cheflayne etc as for me I go back about 50 years in kitchens here and in Europe, I think thats old school

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #28 of 33
In the topic of food cost at home: I am lucky to have a large, vibrant farmer's market in my city with hundreds of vendors that is visited by tens of thousands of people every Saturday. There is no cheaper way to get produce than from a farmer who drove in from 50 miles away. I stocked tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, fennel and fruits for less than 20 bucks. I bought two small chickens for 20 bucks. Toss in some herbs and lemons and wine and I can make braised chicken for 8 people for under 50 bucks using minimal pantry ingredients.

If all you have us a big box grocery then yes cooking one meal without a stocked pantry gets ridiculous.
post #29 of 33

Ahh yes... the sensuality of cooking. What else do you put in another person's body? ;)

post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 

Strummin,

you may or may not be confusing sensuality with sex. while sensual pleasure certainly can be sexual, in the context that i used the word it was not meant to mean physical gratification...well, except for the smile when you create something so wonderful. webster defines sensuality as 'the condition of being pleasing or fulfilling the senses'......you could apply this to opera, or dance or any of the fine arts....and cooking.

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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