Friday, 23 December 2011

Guest Chef Blogger - Evadeth Fech

Même mes légumes scrumptious et exquis de bébé !

Its almost been a year since my last posting...Bad Form Chef! Never mind! You have all seemed to manage without me quite well and that's a good thing.

At the current moment, writing has taken a back seat and the kitchen is forefront, especially at this time of year, yet I recently asked a fellow Chef within the Culinary Brethren if he would mind me posting an email he sent me...kind of a guest blog thing...He agreed, much to my delight!

So without further bollocks from me, until my usual round-up at the end, I have great pleasure to introduce my first guest Chef blogger....

Chef Evadeth Fech and his title piece, 'Can You Pass The Vaseline?'

For those who don't work in the industry there are several references in this song which I will endeavour to explain. I will also need to set the scene for full comprehension and understanding of the lyrics....

The day was black Friday...the busiest day of the chefs calender year

The scene was a busy city centre restaurant experiencing a good old fashioned roasting ( fisting or arse raping as we call it in the trade, which should explain the references to vaseline)

The composers were several chefs working the line fuelled on far too many cans of a certain well known red canned cola drink, doughnuts, sugared jelly sweets and a continual loop of traditional Christmas songs!

The catalysts were customers, who throughout the festive period, had constantly picked apart the carefully prepared festive menu and decided that their own menu based on their intolerances, preferences and their 'superior culinary knowledge' would be better suited. So, on the busiest day of the year (at one point we had 52 people waiting to order known as "52 open") the kitchen was receiving orders (checks) for dishes and side orders that were not only unavailable on the festive menu but some were not even on the regular a la carte menu and would need preparing on the spot! (Sauteed new potatoes carrots and parsnips and fries being the pick of the bunch!) Which to a lesser team may have put them in the weeds! However....

When this tune came on, the caffeine and sugar fuelled chefs penned the unforgettable chorus, quickly got on with the task in hand and the rest fell into place quickly after. If this Christmas ditty serves nothing else but to raise a smile amongst my fellow chefs then It will have served its original purpose.

This is not the original version as certain lines were more specific to this particular establishment and would not have made sense to Joe public.. I hope you enjoy it..

To the tune of 'Stop the Cavalry' by Jona Lewie

Hey Mr Public, please stop the orders,
We can't really take it anymore,

Hey Mr customer, your checks hurt our arses,
Our ring pieces are mighty sore!

Oh I say its tough,
We have had enough!
Can you pass the vaseline

Christmas and a la carte, really ain't so bad,
But your 'special' dishes make us sad,
Plus your criticism, makes us all sad,
And where the f***s this vaseline?!

Sauteed potatoes? Make them quick!
Your dietary requirements make us sick!
Stick to the menu there's plenty to pick!
I'm all out of vaseline!

We are getting bum-bummed
We are getting bummed
Bum b bum bum bum b bum
We are getting bummed

We are getting bum-bummed
We are getting bummed
Bum b bum bum bum b bum
We are getting bummed!

Wish you'd stayed at home,
This Christmas

(M-y ar-se hurts, m-y ar-se hurts
My arse hurts m-y ar-se hurts)

Hey Mr Customer, please stop these orders,
We can't really take it anymore,
'Fifty two open' but you don't really care
"Just make sure my steak is medium rare!"
"Carrots and parsnips and fries for us to share"
Who's used all the vaseline?

We are getting bum-bummed,
We are getting bummed,
Bum b bum bum bum b bum
We are getting bummed

We are getting bum-bummed 
We are getting bummed
Bum b bum bum bum b bum,
We are getting bummed

Sauteed potatoes? Make them quick!
Your 'dietary intolerances' make US sick!
Stick to the menu awkward prick!
Someone buy some vaseline!!!

Wish you'd stayed at home for Christmas

(M-y ar-se hurts m-y ar-se hurts,
My arse hurts m-y ar--r-r-se hurts)

Written by Chef Evadeth Fech and the Chargrill Warblers

Copyright 2011-2012

Right you lot...I'm back for my round-up as always and can't stop laughing! Anyone reading this will now hear the original in the car, on the radio at work or sitting round the dinner table with your friends and family and all you will be able to think of is singing the chorus at full vocal volume...just for shits and giggles!

Bloody amazing Chef Evadeth Fech and thank you for being my first Guest Chef Blogger! Wishing You and your Team all the best and good vibes on Sunday!

So, now for the news....

Yeah, I'm a Chef! This time of year I couldn't give a proverbial if 'Mockney' has created a new piece of plastic that crushes bones to create a marrow powder or if 'Ramsay' has moved on from botox to using the latest Heston creation as a face cream! It's sodding Xmas and I can't be arsed...I'm too busy dealing with the general public and their inane requests! News will return in the new year!

A couple of things to look out for though...

New to the 'Beyond The Hotplate' section is Student Cooking whom I recently wrote a Guest Blog for and by clicking this LINK will send you straight there to visit them! A great site to peruse and these guys and girls should be commended for their ingenuity and dedication to getting the new generation to cook...especially on such a low budget! Well done !

Secondly is Lee Cooper Photography in the 'Beyond The Kitchen' section! An amazing photographer and Chef with food on his mind 99% of the day (the other 1% is when he is sleeping!) Go check out his site by following the link!

Thirdly...a new Chef Profile is due...Eyes open and RSS feed on full alert for the one and only Ops Head Chef Dave J Critchley from The Noble House!

So on that note its time for me to go...

Until then have a great Xmas and New Year and to all Chefs in the UK and across the Globe...stay strong, stay true...and if that fails...tell them to DO ONE!

Au revoir mes amis!

Le Chef Grincheux

Monday, 10 January 2011

Ban The Brands!

Bonsoir mes morceaux moites de monkfish...Joyeux Noël et nouvelle année heureuse !

What a way to start a new year! The untimely passing of British actor Pete Postlethwaite, musical genius Gerry Rafferty and one of our Brethren, Ainsley the Big Yin!

No readers that’s not Mr Ainsley 'rattle yer pots and pans' Harriot before you get excited (although it would have been a better choice by the Grim Reaper) but a member of the Culinary Fraternity from Ayrshire in Scotland.

Big Yin was an old school Chef! True to his culinary roots with a wicked sense of humour and a true taste for life, family and food. He will be sorely missed by all that knew him, past and present, and will live on in our hearts, memories and stories. Our thoughts go out to his Family and Friends at this difficult time.

May the Culinary Angels lead you to that great Kitchen in the skies Chef....C.C.I.P (Cook & Create in Peace)

And so to the long awaited new post from the Grumpy Chef...

A change in direction recently has postponed my 'jovial' postings yet it has moved me to write again and force feed the inner workings of my grumpy persona...aren't you the lucky ones!

My current position is Head Chef with a 'branded restaurant chain' which for legal reasons I cannot name, nor would I dare to, for fear of death by pizza dough!

My career turned upside down with the knowledge I cannot cook my way. A true chef nightmare. Being told how to cook...God forbid! Yet this is where I find myself, trapped in a world of youngsters, pizza ovens, foreigners and temperamental Italian development Chefs who, for their sins, actually understand the fundamentals of classic cuisine but are bound by the constrains of the our FSA (Food Standards Agency) and Company procedures and policies.

I entered my current position with eyes open, hoping to make a difference, but was blocked at every turn by the Company and their archaic outlook on quality, cuisine and safety. I thought the FSA was bad! These 'people' make them look like choirboys and even the mention of the word 'audit' sends shivers down the spines of every General Manager (average age being 26) within the Company and sends them into a 3 month long panic.

Never in my years as a Chef have I seen such a ill-informed regimented kitchen or lack of respect for creativeness. Its mind boggling, truly it is!

What is worse, to me, is that the age of these 'cooks' is laughable and they are brainwashed to company standard and use employment law like their bible...its a fucking disgrace!

Every Chef and member of the true Culinary Brethren knows the unwritten rules...we all do! Yet these 'people' use employment law and legislation to benefit themselves.

Why is that a problem Chef”, I hear you cry...quite simple, they only use it to benefit themselves...and that, my al dente pommes de terre, is not only uncalled for but against the Culinary Oath and our 'Rules'! They have no concept of this regardless of my efforts to instil the rules of the true kitchen into them.

I would give you a fore instance but there are way too many I would want to divulge. Instead I will relinquish one quick story...

A young 'cook' came to me the other day requesting a pay rise and a new job title. He wanted to be Junior Sous Chef. I asked how long he had been with the company...9 months...okay, and where were you before that...I was a bartender...Hmm, okay, how does NO sound?

Nine months...NINE FUCKING MONTHS???

I have had Chefs work for over 7 years to even be good enough to rise to that level and not only be good enough but earn the respect of other Chefs to be even considered for that position and because you are in a branded chain, that ain’t worth shit in the Culinary Industry, you want all that after nine months...DO ONE!

Sod the procedures and policies...In my honest opinion, no one has the right to even call themselves a Chef unless they have been wrung through the mangle clockwise, passed back through anticlockwise and then pressed with a fire iron to create the sharpest crease known to man (or woman for all the feminists out there).

I have discussed my recent move and torment with colleagues, hoping I was wrong in my observations...I wasn't! Not only did they agree with me but became rather irate and infuriated that these cooks (and the company) had the audacity to even use the term 'Chef' in all documents, contracts and conversations.

Thank you Brethren! Its obviously not just me!

The crowning 'turd in the water pipe' is that people actually come to these food factories to eat! They cant get enough of it the deals? The vouchers? The area discount cards? Of course it bloody is! Even worse is the clientèle are middle/upper class...they could afford something better...a greater culinary experience, yet they choose these places because of the deals! I am astounded and confused at this!

We all enjoy food...its a necessity. So why not try your local, independent or managed public house or restaurant? They need the support. They need the business! Not these manufactured, self indulgent, arrogant and obnoxious food factories where you are just another face. A meal ticket to profit and bottom line! A plastic customer who constantly persists for seasoning and parmesan before tasting the dish...You are better than that! We, as Chefs, are better than that! Trust Us...we know what we are talking about and our only aim is to give you a fantastic culinary experience that you will enjoy and savour! That's why we train for so long dealing with copious amounts of crap from our peers to be the best we can be!

Needless to say I am now looking for my path back to my Culinary roots and to excite customers again with properly made, freshly produced, locally sourced cuisine...created by the Chefs of times gone, constantly looking to improve and perfect each dish....striving to create something new, something fun or something exquisite.

Long Live the Old School...Long Live the 'True Chef'!

So on that note, the News...

Okay...He was back again in the papers last week after a sabbatical...Chef Ramsay has been to the local hair transplant facility and had work done...but was it really only his hair?  Click the link and decide for yourselves...

Punch have been brought up on Fire Regulation breaches at one of their London Pubs...about time they got their asses felt (and not in a good way), even if it was a small one...

Okay, a new addition to the blog...a new and fresh section for other sites not related to the Catering Industry but well worth a visit...

First up is Le Garcon de Glasgow!  The site objective is to feature the most creative and interesting individuals in Glasgow and has proven massive in the UK and across the water so for all those fashion mongers and trend setters, get clicking over to Le Garcon de Glasgow and see what style is all about!

Second on my non-culinary site list is something true to my heart...after being there from the beginning, this site is moving fast and gaining notoriety as a promotional and networking tool
for your private, personal and professional life online
...Please click the link and get your account sorted as this site is going to be the forefront of our lives...I give you Waynesworld!  For those wanting a sneak preview of my account then click the link...

Jaillissent mes warthogs bien arrondis merveilleux. Je dois loin et vous offrir bonne nuit…

Je suis de retour!

Le Chef Grincheux

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cook Like A Kid (As Published in ONE Magazine)

Good god...being a chef can be boring at times... It’s not the hours or the getting changed 8 times a day or even the laborious meetings with officious officials from the FSA. (Damn killjoys banned unpasteurised foodstuffs and are proceeding to bring down the culinary elite by forcing us to microwave and to cook things “well done” the bastards...).
It’s the customers.  Please don’t misunderstand me: without you, no business will ever survive — disintegrating like napkins shoved into a half-filled glass of Pinot Grigio or collapse like a badly executed soufflé au chocolat.

Let’s try a little experiment. Please be calm and relaxed, and fucking pay attention to what I’m writing or else I’m bringing back the salmon:
I would like you to regress back to a time you rememeber, as a child or teenager or young adult. Think clearly, be as precise as possible ... think about a moment in your culinary history where you tasted a food for the first time.  We have three levels of this experience when it comes to our taste buds, let’s explore...
The first thing you’re likely to remember is texture, that’s number one. Then comes the explosive flavours of your chosen food, and finally the third, after-taste — how the first two culminated in your mouth and then left it with many  feelings and emotions — a final thought, a single solitary word or expression.

At that moment, you became liberated and your taste buds had been released from a shell of conformity and constraint.  From my experience, these feelings or emotions are lost nowadays on the general public. We conform to the everyday, and the mundane. We watch “Celebrity” Chefs and their predilection for the over-complicated and bizarre. We may even strive to recreate and copy their artistic endeavours, yet we can, and usually will, fall short. It’s time to return to basics.
My journey into cooking began when I was three years old. There I was, peeling the devils’ excrement in my grandmothers kitchen: Brussels Sprouts. I hated that vegetable, I still do. Yet there is something that warms me about that task.  Even tasting them, despite my gag reflex. Stripping the root, gently peeling the earthen leaves and finally beholding it’s fine colouring and glistening surface. Whoever decided to make them smell like the white, sweat-soaked sports socks of a hundred-metre hurdle winner beggars belief. Yet, now doing what I do, I bung in some chestnuts, a hint of white wine, some nutmeg, and even I will scoff the lot.

The love of food starts when we are very young. Nowadays, we begin with mass-produced organic baby food, mashed up and enhanced in glass jars with bright colours and funny looking mammals on the labels. We need something to inspire the younger generation to eat sweet potatos and beef cooked in red wine sauces.
In honour of the recently passed restauranteur and highly respected food critic Egon Ronay, why don’t we start our 21st century children with what we actually had as kids — earthworms, and fur from the next-door neighbours dog.  This is how we began our culinary journey, by eating things we shouldn’t. We learned for ourselves, until we were force-fed broad beans, broccoli and rice pudding.

But our journey doesn’t stop there. We move on. Our tastes evolve through our teenage years of kebabs, takeaway pizzas, koftes, and cheesey chips smothered in gravy after a night on the lash with friends and colleagues. My personal favourite was a kebab house in Troon, Ayrshire; donor meat dressed with lashings of a triple mix of cheddars, chips finished with bisto gravy and a drizzle of extra hot chilli sauce.  Yeah, it was down right disgusting but the flavours exuded strength and robustness, the smell permeated into my clothing as I munched down happily and content with a drunken sense of exquisite euphoria.  Yet at work with my chef’s hat on, I would prepare a delectable dish of filet mignon avec sauce béarnaise, pommes chateau et legumes and have the same experience, flavours and textures would produce similar feelings and emotions.

Too bad, that in recent years many of us have become accustomed to the run of the mill, every day foods. Lasagne, gammon and chips with English mustard and garden peas, well done topside of beef, horseradish and Yorkshire pudding. Well I haven’t! I experiment everyday.  My colleagues do the same.  We experiment and work on new ways to create flavours and textures in an endless search for our way back to the time in our childhood that we discovered food. We are Chefs afterall, nothing will ever take that away from us.  We were destined to do what we do and our quest is to demonstrate to the general public that food is fun and should be experimental.

But best of all, it’s there, inside each and every one that cooks — be it a steak and ale pie or a lobster thermidor, those culinary experiences are there to be had, treasured and shared. I beg of you dear readers, remember to experiment, liberate your taste buds and let them run free, for too many of us bow down to the status quo.

And on that note I will leave you with this thought. I am now off to warm the kettle and wolf down a sweet and spicy pot noodle — why?  Because it warms me with its flavours, texture and above all its history! Club de Mar, 24 hour Spar and a pack of Empire biscuits for breakfast. God Bless Nostalgia and God bless our enlivened taste buds.  

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

From The Extravagant To The Priceless

Bonsoir mes croquettes chinoises exubérantes...

Okay, we are gonna take a look at some of the most extravagent and exaggerated food from around the globe!  Lets see if your calorific content calculator adds up these morsels before warping its electronic brain!

We got out to because we have to and two, because we crave indulgence!  We do!  Fact of life.  We eat to survive but we also eat to stimulate the senses and soak up exuberance!

First lets start with the 15lb Burger written about by my fellow writer, Katharine Shilcutt of 'she eats' fame, in the Houston Press.  What a mouthful that is!  Everything a respectful fast food junkie could want!

This is the biggest, commercial pizza you can currently buy.  Rounding off at 52 inches, it is made at Mama Maria's Authentic Italian Restaurant based in Bacolod City, Philippines.  Go join their Facebook group and support this ever expanding Pizza Franchise.

Now for the most expensive Ice cream Sundae on the planet...The Grand Opulence Sundae is made at Serendipity 3 in New York.  This wonderful extravagant dessert looks as good as Liberace, but will probably taste better.  Made from some of the finest ingredients the World has to offer...Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, Grand Passion dessert caviar and 24K edible Swiss gold leaf to name but a few.  They require 48 hours notice to prepare and create this sublime dish.  The price tag?  $1000.00.  Start saving people!

Most people like a curry.  Maybe a Jalfrezi, Korma or even a Vindaloo will grace your plates at home while watching a film of even the football.

Samundari Khazana (Seafood Treasure) was created by the Chef at the Bombay Brasserie in London.  Filled with some of the most expensive and glorious ingredients, it is truly a wonder.  Devon crab, Beluga Caviar, white truffles and Scottish Lobster coated with edible gold leaf are amongst the delicacies used to create the most expensive curry ever known.  Price tag?  £2000.00!

Love chocolate?  Then you will love this..the largest Chocolate Fountain in the World!  Housed at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, this wonder took 2 years to engineer, design and plan.  White, Dark and Milk Chocolates cascade 14 feet from spouts in the ceiling and fill a variety of hand made glass vessels.  This colossal fountain shifts around 2 tons of chocolate kept at a constant temperature of 120 degrees.

And finally, just to prove priceless doesn't mean expensive, Baked Rice Pudding!  My Mum's was the best.  Yep, we joked about the bowl slipping from her fingers, crashing through the floorboards (irrelevant it had to get though thick pile carpet) and ending up somewhere on the other side of the earth's core but when we scooped it out of that 1970's glass bowl...pure heaven served up with Elmlea single cream and strawberry jam...Thanks Mum!

So there you have it...a cop out post from your irregular Culinary Crank!  Time is of the essence and I have very little currently.  So lets skip forward to the News...


Time for a look to my 'Beyond The Hotplate ' Section.  We have a few additions my Culinary Codpieces.

First we have Chef Crush.  A delightful site run by The Crush Girls who whole heartedly believe that cooking makes you sexy!  Can't disagree there...nor would I want to.  Give them a visit and nominate your favourite good looking Chefs who can cook.  (No I'm not on there...Yet!)

Second we have Grumpy Old Bloggers.  A site dedicated to all things grumpy! Some great insights into what makes others grumpy and what winds them up so much they just have to write it down and get on that web-based pedestal.  Go Grumpy People!

There is one more addition to the section which is purely because I believe this collective has seen the future.  The Supper Liberation Front is a group of  Los Angeles based Chefs who believe that the price tag of an exquisite and expensive meal should be available to all at the right price without cutting back on quality, time or effort!  Give them your support and if you can, visit their next gastronomic evening!  You got my vote Chefs!

On that revolutionary note...

Jusqu'à la fois prochaine…

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Viewing of a Chefs' Soul...Sick Bags Optional

Food is an experience!  It can define a moment in time.  It can inspire, invoke emotion and and cause Families to debate the human lottery of who will be peeling the spuds for Christmas dinner!

When eating out, I always try and find a dish that is either new to me or that I haven't tasted with the accompaniments that the Chef has prepared the dish with.  I don't go for the 'norm'...I don't opt for the usual and accomplished dishes of a Chef.  I try to route out the weaknesses!   The dishes that jump out at you like a taunted Lobster without claw bands...those are the ones I choose.  Sometimes pretentious and usually worded on the menu like some dolled up Chavette on smack, lolling over her baseball capped boyfriend of the week, these 'creations' are the epitomy of a Chef's playfulness.  It shows the Chef for who he is.  Laid bare for all as nine times out of ten it will not be an Escoffier classic or a Careme masterpiece.  It is his soul, plated, for all to see.

Chefs pride themselves on their being classic dishes or known combinations.  Tarte au Citroen, Coq au Vin, Beouf Bourginion...the true test comes when a Chef tries to marry flavours that are not the 'norm' or have been discredited before as a 'no go' zone.

Is it better to plump for the regular and everyday dishes?  Play safe with the cooked through and well done plates of normality?  

NO!  It is not!  It is time we began to experiment with our taste buds!  Enjoy our food to the fullest.  Explore the divine flavours that our planet has been blessed with and live a little more dangerously.

Picture it.  You see a Menu.  It's in your hand.  You begin to read the dishes from the various sections.  You spot your usual...Soup, Prawn Cocktail, Gammon with Chips and Egg or the inevitable well done Sirloin.  Now, take your time.  Explore and peruse a little further.  Find something that you may have always wanted to try but never had the balls to actually order.  Something new and exciting.  A dish that will light up your taste buds and have them begging you to go further...persuade you to take that next step.

As a Nation we have lost our way when it comes to food.  We are dedicated to Foodie TV programmes and we are completely reliant on 'Celebrity Chefs' and the concoctions they create.  The sale of cook books are at an all time high yet we have forgotten how to cook!  We believe that these people have an insight into our souls and create wondrous dishes that can be re-created at home.  I hate to inform you but this ain't possible most of the time.  

Do you have 62 Chefs working 17 hours a day?  Do you have tens of thousands of pounds worth of high end catering equipment?  Do you buy the best produce that is shipped from all over the known world costing more than the average semi-detached dwelling?

Simple answer please...Anyone?  I will give you the answer...NO!

You must enjoy and play with food...

A great man once said that to use a spoon to taste Mashed Potato was pointless.  He used his hand!  A damn good fistful!  Feeling the texture and tasting the flavour!

So, If you want to, try being 5 years old again.  Play with your food.  Not just with the flavours, go medieval for once and PLAY!!!

Le Chef Grincheux