Originally Posted by SField
Well a good home cook can eat better than at 99% of restaurants in America. I think in other countries in the world, this is a little different since chains are less prevalent and people are a tiny bit more discerning. But, when you're talking about FL, unless you extremely skilled, highly equipped and can source great ingredients, you are kind of an idiot to try and recreate it unless in fact you really want to do it for the fun of it.
The problem lies in the fact that most people these days don't know how to cook. I hate the way this sounds but most people just don't understand what good food is and what makes a dish good. Thus, anything that a restaurant makes is basically good to these people. If I get a chicken dish, I want to taste chicken, if I order a beef dish, I want to taste beef. Whatever the main ingredient is is what I want to taste. Everything else should either support it or complement it, not overtake it. Especially here in NYC, it's amazing how many restaurants that serve basically crap can get away with it. Almost all those reviews on menupages are useless, yelp less so and chowhound close behind. Restaurants that get less press, less online exposure, the better. I had really great meals in restaurants that were on side streets, hole in the wall places and not talked about neighborhood joints. Places with publicity, crazy decor, and "branding" get all the sheep in this world thus supporting even more crap/mediocre food or some over-stylized fusion turd that keeps popping up. OK, getting back to the subject, I think it is not impossible to replicate restaurant cooking. But there is definitely no way you can get the stuff that great restaurants get. These restaurants have relationships/connections with many farmers, ranchers, distributors, fisherman, etc so they can get the best of the best. Not to mention exotic ingredients that a even specialty store wouldn't sell because 1) they are expensive so not too many people would buy it and 2) a lot of these exotic ingredients since they need to be fresh, lose a lot of their flavor fast and rot before some crazy home cook would buy them. One way I know that may work is form a close relationship with a good vendor at a farmer's market so you can request hard to find produce. However this is getting to be tough because a lot these vendors at these farmer's market are not the mom and pop farmers one imagines. The techniques that restaurants use can be learned and probably be applied even better at home since time is not as much as a constraint as in a restaurant environment. I do have to say Keller really scares a lot of people so it makes cooking even more imposing. I really would recommend getting books on technique and less on recipes per se at least in the beginning. For example, to learn to make a great consomme, it can lead to making better soups, richer stocks thus better gravies and sauces. Without this foundation, I don't know how a person can come close to producing what even a good restaurant can produce. Also have one helping hand in the kitchen really helps but make sure this person cares about details even though it may not about food. Prep is the time killer, not the cooking part.