Friday, May 9, 2008

cutting corners

why do chefs shun modern cookery? i was told that i cut corners and that it disrupts the quality of the product. i beg to differ.

you can only cut corners when you understand the science behind your ingredients; why food reacts the way it does. i do extensive research before i introduce anything new. i dont just throw things together without thought.

classic french cookery seems like an orthodox religion. whereas, if they are not doing it, it's wrong. if one doesnt follow their strict guidelines, that one is wrong. where if anything is done outside their proxy, it's wrong. i dont get that ego!

so back to cutting corners. if a new technique using a modern vessel improves the speed of production, is it wrong? to a point. i am very passionate about bread. i love bread. i do not use instant yeast, active dry yeast. i use fresh yeast. i use starters. i dont you s500 or whatever that agent that speeds fermentation is called.

so. the french custard. does it have to take an hour to make? what if you could make it in 10 minutes? what if you could pour into holders that are otherwise impossible to bake in? what if it is cutting corners but without destroying quality? would you do it?

i made a classic creme brulee for the escoffier society. i used modern cookery and they never knew. i made 100 creme brulees in 10 minutes. i made 100 souffles in 10 minutes. and they didnt know the difference. so if i can fool the escoffier society, i think job well done.

yet im being told i cut corners.

what about the chawanmushi? its a custard and it is made in 12-15 minutes. its traditional. its been done for years. so how are they able to make it in such a short time, yet the french need hours?

the japanese use the steamer.
i use the microwave.

microwaves are amazing cooking equipment. ferran adria uses microwaves. what about that? the chef with the number 1 restaurant in the world is using microwaves. what do you say to that?


Anonymous said...

i'm not a chef by any sense. but i def. cut corners when i cook. esp if it will save me some time and i'm under a deadline. i say do what works for you. no point in letting others bother you too much if you feel ok with how you are doing things in the kitchen.

K said...

I couldn't agree with you more, but only because you specifically stated that you understand the science behind how food acts and reacts. I think that's essential. We wouldn't have progressed beyond roasting rabbits on spits over fires if people hadn't developed new techniques and equipment. Do your thing, Plinio! :-)

shuna fish lydon said...

"i made 100 souffles in 10 minutes. and they didnt know the difference. so if i can fool the escoffier society, i think job well done."

Not knowing what spurred this post/ commentary, I can only react to the words at hand.

If you "fool" anyone, you are also saying you made fun of, or made a mockery of, traditions set down by Escoffier and his followers.

I agree that French rules are oppressive in Western kitchens, but I understand the fear associated with technology/ new techniques that bypass or speed up traditional methods.

Everything changes, this is what we can rely on, no?

But in order to step forward, or jump to the future, you must understand why others will fear your actions.

There is no doubt when we slow down what we do; when we learn from slow and constant repetition, we see and hear how food changes. If it is your mission to perfect the use of microwave cooking, I raise my glass to you.

All styles of cooking, both slow and fast, both methodical and experimental, exist on the same plane. As you would wish others would see your advances so they wish you would understand theirs.

And me? I look forward to learning more about the methods you speak of.

Marianna said...

Hmmm I dunno about that whole microwave thing. But maybe that's because I live in France and I've seen kitchens that follow French cuisine and I think using a microwave would be considered criminal. But that is a cultural thing and the fear of wiping out years of tradition & culinary pride. Yet on the other hand they are very experimental with chefs like Marx and Hervé This...
Also when you mention names like Ferran Adria I really believe that outside of France things are not so "square" anymore, and not only in cuisine but other sectors as well.