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Top Chef All Stars

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Manton, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    i think one of the things that is becoming clear this season, and which sfield alluded to in his post, is that there is a difference between being technically creative and cooking good food. this is not to suggest that technically creative chefs can't cook good food, but only that technical creativity is not a substitute for having a firm handle on flavor. in the end, what matters most is whether something tastes good (carla and antonia), not whether it took double back-flips to get there (blais, marcel, etc.).

    I agree completely with this. In the end, flavour is (at least) as memorable as spectacle or expensive ingredients. I recently had one of the best meals of my life and one of the dishes that stood out was a simple serviing of farrow. Granted, it was perfectly made, presentation was special...but it was farrow!
     
  2. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely with this. In the end, FLAVOR is (at least) as memorable as spectacle or expensive ingredients. I recently had one of the best meals of my life and one of the dishes that stood out was a simple serviing of farrow. Granted, it was perfectly made, presentation was special...but it was farrow!
    FTFY ... you can take the Piob out of Canadia, but you can't take the Canadia out of the Piob
     
  3. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    FTFY ... you can take the Piob out of Canadia, but you can't take the Canadia out of the Piob

    Oh, you Yanks!
     
  4. foodguy

    foodguy Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely with this. In the end, flavour is (at least) as memorable as spectacle or expensive ingredients. I recently had one of the best meals of my life and one of the dishes that stood out was a simple serviing of farrow. Granted, it was perfectly made, presentation was special...but it was farrow!

    and as long as we're chain-jerking. i think you meant farro. or maybe sparrow ... mmmm, becasse! (yes, matt, i know that's actually woodcock.
     
  5. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely with this. In the end, flavour is (at least) as memorable as spectacle or expensive ingredients. I recently had one of the best meals of my life and one of the dishes that stood out was a simple serviing of farrow. Granted, it was perfectly made, presentation was special...but it was farrow!

    That's why I'm very fond of great soups, specifically pureed. You have nothing but flavor and aroma to inform your opinion on the dish. Some of the best things I've ever eaten have been incredible soups.
     
  6. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    So, I have a question, I guess specifically for sfield and foodguy. Words like "technique" are thrown around a lot, and sometimes it becomes hard to know what they mean. Could you guys, since I think you both probably have a pretty rational basis for what you mean, explain what you do mean by technique and technical proficiency/mastery? I think my idea of it may be quite different, and probably a definition which is no longer in use.
     
  7. Piobaire

    Piobaire Well-Known Member

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    and as long as we're chain-jerking. i think you meant farro. or maybe sparrow ... mmmm, becasse! (yes, matt, i know that's actually woodcock.

    [​IMG] @ me.

    I need to wiki spellings before I help support liberal causes! [​IMG]
     
  8. foodguy

    foodguy Well-Known Member

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    So, I have a question, I guess specifically for sfield and foodguy. Words like "technique" are thrown around a lot, and sometimes it becomes hard to know what they mean. Could you guys, since I think you both probably have a pretty rational basis for what you mean, explain what you do mean by technique and technical proficiency/mastery? I think my idea of it may be quite different, and probably a definition which is no longer in use.
    hmmm, interesting topic. i guess for me, there are two aspects to a dish: ingredient (the foodstuffs) and technique (the manipulation of the foodstuffs). "manipulation" sounds bad, and it can be, but so can "ingredients". to me, technique is anything from browning to sous-vide.
    good dishes are based on a certain sliding scale of technique and ingredient ... great ingredients can excuse rusty technique; great technique can glorify mediocre ingredients. heaven is when great ingredients meet great technique. hell is the opposite. where it gets tricky is when you've got mediocre ingredients and mediocre technique.
    that's reading pretty jumbled. sorry.
     
  9. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    hmmm, interesting topic. i guess for me, there are two aspects to a dish: ingredient (the foodstuffs) and technique (the manipulation of the foodstuffs). "manipulation" sounds bad, and it can be, but so can "ingredients". to me, technique is anything from browning to sous-vide.
    good dishes are based on a certain sliding scale of technique and ingredient ... great ingredients can excuse rusty technique; great technique can glorify mediocre ingredients. heaven is when great ingredients meet great technique. hell is the opposite. where it gets tricky is when you've got mediocre ingredients and mediocre technique.
    that's reading pretty jumbled. sorry.

    No, it isn't jumbled at all. I guess what has me wondering is that you so often see and read that this guy or that girl did something really difficult, which kind of makes me wonder, because I generally think of cooking technique as fairly simple, unlike, say, baseball technique or golf technique which are really quite difficult. Of course, you are often building simple technique on top of simple technique etc. The other question to me, I suppose, is whether somebody is "highly technical" because they use all of this new stuff, which can of course be great, or whether highly technical means a real mastery of the things cooks have been doing for a few hundred years now. I don't know, and I was just trying to translate into my own words things I read.
     
  10. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Well-Known Member

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    When I read Foodguy's answer, I hear "execution" , more so than technique.

    I think of technique as "a way of executing" - stir-frying is a technique for cooking. So is cooking sous vide.

    Some techniques are more difficult to master than others... for example dicing is an easier knife technique than making radish flowers.

    Extracting flavor essences from a plant, distilling it, mixing with the right amount of agar, dropping into cold water and forming flavored caviar is probably one of the more difficult techniques of cooking and one even a putz like me could probably master in a pinch.

    Clearly easier than hitting a major league curveball - but that's why there are about 1000 chefs in this country for every major league baseball player.

    While ingredients are important, I think concept is the other key piece. You have a set of ingredients and you know a set of techniques you can use to make them... but your ability to conceive of which ingredients to put together and which techniques to use to prepare them is the real mark of success....
     
  11. foodguy

    foodguy Well-Known Member

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    "highly technical" to me can mean anything from careme (who believed architecture was a branch of pastry) to compressed apples from the sous-vide machine. and in the end, they're the same thing ... when done well, they're terrific tools, but they are also often used to disguise a poverty of ingredient or imagination.
     
  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    "highly technical" to me can mean anything from careme (who believed architecture was a branch of pastry) to compressed apples from the sous-vide machine. and in the end, they're the same thing ... when done well, they're terrific tools, but they are also often used to disguise a poverty of ingredient or imagination.
    Gotcha. I agree. Personally, I probably prefer more basic techniques done very well. I don't have much need for caviar apples or what have you, but I guess it is neat that it can be done.
     
  13. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Well-Known Member

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    I think you should make apple and honey caviar for Rosh Hashana next year Matt!
     
  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Well-Known Member

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    I think you should make apple and honey caviar for Rosh Hashana next year Matt!
    We don't celebrate, or I would. I swear.
     
  15. mordecai

    mordecai Well-Known Member

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    I think you should make apple and honey caviar for Rosh Hashana next year Matt!

    funny you should mention this. i'm going to have a seder this year and wanted to start a thread for exciting meal ideas.
     
  16. foodguy

    foodguy Well-Known Member

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    Gotcha. I agree. Personally, I probably prefer more basic techniques done very well. I don't have much need for caviar apples or what have you, but I guess it is neat that it can be done.
    yeah, technique can be anywhere from a fundament to an amusement. i remember years ago i did a piece with michel richard where he recreated a bunch of careme stuff. it was absolutely amazing. and so f*cking much work. truly a master display. and almost none of it was edible. ETA: can't wait to see what sfield has to say about this.
     
  17. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Well-Known Member

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    I have developed some interesting kosher for passover (non-hasidic) recipes. PM me when you start that thread and I'll throw some your way.

    Not sure if Agar is okay on pesach or not. It's derived from seaweed, so I can't imagine it's an issue... but I'm no expert in Halacha.
     
  18. foodguy

    foodguy Well-Known Member

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    funny you should mention this. i'm going to have a seder this year and wanted to start a thread for exciting meal ideas.

    just brainstorming, but that apple-honey caviar made me think: what if you did a ghetto sous-vide thing, where you diced the apples (keep them in lemon water so they don't brown), then seal them in ziplock bag with honey ... squeeze all the air out. then poach in simmering water until they're just tender. if you wanted, maybe a sprig of thyme would be cool.
     
  19. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Well-Known Member

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    That sounds kind of good.. I may try it later. I have a food saver, honey, and thyme in my house right now, but no apple.
     
  20. mordecai

    mordecai Well-Known Member

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    i'm not going to be super strict. i think some sephardic dishes might make the experience more palatable to the gentile Significants who are being forced to participate. my idea for home made gefilte fish did not seem to get them too excited.
     

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