Monday, 31 March 2008

The Forest of Culinary Delights

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been...... Sorry, wrong window. New online confessional. Saves time and in the comfort of your own home, outstanding. Anyway, here we go again......

Bonsoir mes pâtés en croûte cornouaillais désireux!

What a wondrous week it has been. A valued member of my Kitchen staff has left for pastures new, a new member of Kitchen staff has arrived, but only for a month as she will be acquiring her own kitchen in approximately 4 weeks, and my kitchen porter forgot to put his timepiece forward on Sunday making him TWO hours late for work (Yes, it puzzled me too !). Also this week, I have noticed my 'groupies' have vanished! I am forlorn and pine for them with inconsolable tears......okay, that's long enough. As always, duty calls and i must now focus on one of the most infuriating topics that has surrounded the Industry since the beginning of time itself ......CUSTOMERS!

I realise that without the mass of clientele descending upon my restaurant, I would have little purpose upon this green and pleasant land. I imagine I would be working in Insurance or Greggs Bakery and that does not fill me with a great amount of joy! I love to cook, there is no doubt in my mind that being a Chef is an honor and a privilege that should be held close to the most hardened heart. A Chef strives for greatness, yearns for recognition and will push on through the River Styx if he feels it will move his career forward. In the life of a true Chef, they will forgo Family and Friends, endure long hours, very little in way of a salary and atrocious conditions to ensure their legacy will be remembered. So why do certain patrons feel they have the God given right to bamboozle waitresses, insult bar staff and turn an amiable Chef into a gargantuan minotaur which would send even Satan cowering behind the sorbet machine crying like a little girl!

Clicking fingers, whistling and general bad manners will not get you served any quicker. Neither will bellowing the bartenders name, obscene language or waving your money in the air like you are trying to attract a stripper in a seedy lap dancing club. There used to be an etiquette when waiting to be served. I believe its called 'waiting your turn'. A small populous in this country seem to feel that the universe revolves around them getting their Stella Artois and Tikka Masala before Armageddon arrives or a vogon constructor fleet eradicates earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass with the biggest inter-galactic Little Chef you've ever seen.

The 'Have It Your Way' society that was created and lovingly nurtured by a certain Fast Food Chain is starting to get out of control. Chefs' create dishes for a reason. Not only do they take into account the changing seasons but also the flavours of the ingredients they use, that is what makes the dish......FLAVOURS! Garnishing will usually come under this heading also. A good example to prove my point is quite simply Fish and Chips. A fresh chunk of Saltwater Cod dipped into a light batter, fried till golden in colour and served with hand-cut chips, gently seasoned garden peas and homemade Tartare Sauce (sounds like an advert for M&S). There is no mention of Tomato Ketchup, Baked Beans or Brown Sauce in the Escoffier. These offending items should be removed from circulation and thrown on large bonfires made from chip cartons and Ronald McDonalds' wig collection. (For those of you who are interested, the Escoffier is the Chefs' Bible and is available in most good bookshops or online priced around £15.00 including delivery. You won't be disappointed). Those flavours are meant to be together. That is the purpose of their existence. To add anything other than a good helping of roughly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon is sheer sacrilege and over-indulgence.

Another British abomination that should be eradicated from all menus in the UK is......The Mixed Grill! A large plate, usually oval in shape, with enough meat and fat to give even the healthiest diner an instant coronary. Why chomp, chew and coagulate all that meat together? I can guarantee that by the time you have yomped your way through even half of the humongous meal, you will have no idea which meat is which. In fact you could probably ingest the dish a lot quicker if I put it through a blender and served it up as a milkshake! It would still taste the same.

Next time you venture out for a well-earned meal, celebratory dinner or luncheon with the bridge club, think before you squeeze that ketchup bottle with the congealed lid. Spare a thought for that succulent piece of Salmon before it becomes smothered in an over-seasoned, heavy cream sauce. Ponder over your juicy Fillet Steak without reaching for the HP. In my world plain is not boring, its sensual and exciting. Its almost emotional. A world without condiments is a world full of flavours, eager to show how good things taste without so-called enhancements and mono-sodium glutamate. Simplicity is the key. Let it be your guide on your adventure through the Forest of Culinary Delights. If we carry on the forest will be burnt to a cinder. Charred and forgotten from neglect.

Which brings me to my final gripe of today. Many terms exist for this repulsive style of cooking. It eats away at the hearts of many Chefs' around the globe. We detest, despise and in no way condone this act of pure evil which has permeated the thoughts of the general public for centuries. To utter these words turns my stomach, is usually followed by heavy retching and sometimes even uncontrollable vomiting. I am talking, of course, about the black piece of cardboard that is......THE WELL DONE STEAK!

In the Beginning, God created Man, Woman, then a whole bunch of other stuff and eventually the Cow. A source of meat, milk, leather for posing pouches and hooves for gelatin. A black and white quadruped that would adorn vans, trucks, milk cartons and Chefs' trousers for years to come (I did not own a pair and anyone who says any different is talking UDDER nonsense......Sorry, couldn't help it). So for such a useful creature, a staple in most peoples' diet, we should really show a little more respect than cremating its succulent offerings, slapping it on a plate and dousing it in those hated condiments. Once a steak has been cooked past medium, it is ruined. All the flavour and moisture has been evaporated into the atmosphere, lost for good. There is no way anyone can tell a Chef that it tastes good, as there is no taste. It has become a tasteless mass of nothingness. I implore you from the depth of my heart and soul try your hardest not to utter such profanity to your waiter or waitress. Pluck up the courage to give medium a shot. You may like it and want to give medium-rare a go next time. If it isn't right for you, then Chef can always stamp on it and chuck it back under the grill for an hour. At least you will have tried and at the end of the day, that is all we Chefs' ask of you, our customers, just to try!

My time on this post has come to an end but soon I will return to enlighten and entertain you all. Until then I will leave you to explore the Forest, just don't get lost on the way and end up eating Scallops with an iPod in your ears playing sounds of the ocean. Thats not simplicity......its pure stupidity!

Yours Humbly

Le Chef Grincheux


Mrs said...

Hiya Grumpy Chef! What's wrong with a cremated steak and brown sauce anyway! Another true insight from your world. Fab! Keep it going. xx.

welbeck said...

Much impressed by the suggestion to try medium steaks instead of the 'burnt offering'. Flavour is the true test of a great Chef.

Anonymous said...

Grumpy Chef - your latest recipe for pork chops sounds absolutely delicious and so simple - cant wait to try it. Will let you know if its as good as it sounds!

parfitt said...

I must recommend the 'True Celebrity Chef' link to other readers. Great idea.

Cyst Bovis said...

Regarding your comments on steak, I would take issue with you re the cinder style preferred by some people. With this style there is no danger of getting a tapeworm of the Saginata genus. You should also turn your sausages inside out and cremate to prevent other parasitical nasties.

Heat kills, so give it the wellie.
Keep up the good work!!!!.

TheGrumpyChef said...

cyst bovis, what a fantastic insight into the mind of an Environmental Health Officer......about as subtle as a rhino horn up the backside though, thick skinned and stubborn as Hell to boot......I think you could call that a 'a hole in one'.

Anonymous said...

Grumpy Chef. You should know that this a Meat Inspector not an Environmental Health Officer commenting. Obviously I have touched a raw steak here or was that a nerve?. Well it`s better than Toe`d in the hole!!.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!!! Where will this end?? Hope it doesn't

Anonymous said...

Grumpy Chef, your pork chop recipe tasted as good as it sounded.