Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bring Back the Allotment and Chicken Coop!

Bonsoir mes sorbets blancs scrumptious de chocolat!

A little nostalgia for you this evening. This wondrous Bank Holiday has had me thinking of traditional grub. Good, wholesome and home-cooked. The type of food your Grandma would rustle up of an evening...Egg and Chips, Shepard's Pie, Toad in the Hole and even Cheese on Toast. Every single dish being served up 'en masse'! Gargantuan portions of Mashed Potato, proper Chips, homegrown vegetables and not to mention vasts amounts of Meat and Fish. Back then there was no talk of 'haute cuisine' or 'al a carte' food. So tonight, I think it is time to delve into the depths of 'Home' Cuisine! A tribute to the unsung heroes of our heritage and a comparison to today's 'nouvelle' and 'fusion' cuisine that we are becoming to accustomed to. Let the battle commence!

Lets begin with the most recent and utterly over-produced program 'The Great British Menu'. The winners of this 'made for TV' travesty will cook a homecoming meal for around 100-200 soldiers selected from the three armed forces returning from Afghanistan. (I completely support the return of our extremely valued Troops). I will ask this one question though as we approach the final of this ludicrous competition...Are the extravagant and contemporary dishes the Chefs are cooking what our Troops really would enjoy? Are the rations that are supplied, and the cookhouses, really producing such meager meals that the Armed Forces will actually enjoy something the size a Gnats penis after there Tour of Duty?

In my honest opinion, I don't think they would and I will stress at this point that the Chefs feeding all these Troops on the front line and in various areas around the world have a harder job than the likes of Chef Ramsay, Chef Blumenthall and any other Chef that feels they produce the worlds best food, because these guys that feed thousands of hungry soldiers have their work cut out for them...and if they get it wrong, lets be honest, its not a detrimental comment card or harsh word...it could be a whole lot worse!!!

So, what would an 'Honest Tommy' require after returning home to Blighty? A good honest and wholesome meal the size of the latest M.P scandal? Or a jumped up, culinary enhanced, 18 flavoured, tweaked and twatted version which insults the integrity of British cooks all over the country? Answers on a postcard!!!

We have lost our way in this contemporary world of extravagant food and molecular gastronomy...is it not time to return to the British way of thinking? Time to return to the recipes our Grandmothers taught us all those years ago? When food was scarce and there was no talk of buying local, as it was all local...our ancestors were doing that trend way before the current 'goody two shoes' chefs were! Are they bringing back a lost tradition?....NO...they ain't, because there are hundreds of thousands of people who have carried on the traditions of home cooking and local produce even when the recent 'Chef of the day' was having his nappy changed.

One item of information I have managed to work out myself...There are no 'new' recipes, but old ones re-vamped and that has been the answer for most celebrity Chefs for the last decade! Pick a loved traditional dish, make it smaller, smooth the nooks and crannys and produce a dish that wouldn't cover a small water biscuit...and apparently that constitutes a meal...I say its time to stop this nou-nouvelle cuisine and return to the dishes that made Britain great and to through in a little indication of the way we should be cooking I quote a Master of British Cuisine, Chef Marco Pierre White, "When I'm making Mashed Potato in the morning, I give myself a fistful. Not a finger, a fistful!". This is how we should be cooking...Cavalier Style, tasting each dish like it was your last, if only our over-zealous Chefs would spend more time letting go and start dolloping the vast quantities of food onto the plate rather than condensing, enhancing and f*****g around with our food and just present it in its 'homemade' state then we could at least hold onto our British food (unlike our Car companies, Water producers and Airports) and start to make Britain a Nation again. Lets be honest, the Government ain't really got a chance now, so I think its time a Chef got into Number 10...couldn't do any worse!!!

SO where does that leave us? At a solution that this radical style of cookery permeating and choking our traditional British values is the way forward? Or does it leave us open to make a choice? A choice to begin again. To devote our average, mediocre or less-than-adequate cookery skills to search the annals of our food history...our inheritance, and start to cook, braise, poach, grill or baste our way to victory?

I think its time to begin again my short crusted steak and kidney puds! Follow the hearts of our predecessors and bring back the dishes that made Britain a force to be reckoned with...hit em with both barrels...show the rest of the world what our cookery was made of...hard graft, home grown, non-chemical and heart felt. In other words, lets here it for our older generation because if the current state of affairs in this country are anything to go by...we are screwed in the foodie stakes! Bring back British! Its what we live for.

On that patriotic note...the News...

Heston's Little Chef menu is to be rolled out nationwide although it is only in principle at the current moment.

Blumenthal’s revamped menu, which he created during the Channel 4 documentary Big Chef Little Chef, has been trialled at the Little Chef branch in Popham, Hampshire, for more than six months.

The menu, which includes dishes such as braised ox cheeks, coq au vin and Hereford steak and Abbot Ale pie, has been well received by truck drivers and travelling salesman according to Little Chef managing director Ian Pegler.

If anyone has actually been and tasted the new menu, been happy with the delightful flavours that have apparently been enjoyed then please email me...I have had no indication from anyone I know that has actually been to the Little Chef in Popham and I would love to hear any comments on the recent developments...

Dining trends in the US are changing as a result of the financial downturn and restaurants are responding by putting on a variety of special deals, it has emerged.

Starters served as main courses and shared platters, take out meals for free and even courses for the dog are among the promotions being served up by Stateside food service operators, according to food service consultancy Horizon’s managing director Peter Backman.

About bloody time...how the high and mighty have fallen! Forgive me the veritable chuckle...hee hee hee!

On that career ending note its goodbye from me and a "would your dog like a cool, tepid, warm, iced with an undertone of mild, half tap half distilled moderately heated, shaken not stirred water bowl?"...from the Barista's of your local Starbucks!

Rêves doux mes tartlets succulents de poireau et d'emmental

Le Chef Grincheux

Friday, 22 May 2009

Summery Interlude

Bonsoir mes escargots extrêmement chers scintillant avec du beurre d'ail et un ordre latéral de baguette de beurre et comment sont vous ce week-end chaleur-rempli de vacances de banque ?

Well I hope you have languished in the rarely present sunshine today...I know I haven't so I am safe in the knowledge that the majority of you have and there was obviously no need to ask the previous question.

I, obviously, have been working my little arse off in the catering underbelly that is the kitchen...producing delectable delights for you work-shy layabouts in the hope that I might chance upon an ounce of daylight to see me through to my next day off. Undoubtedly you can imagine that I didn't! At least 'morons' see the light of day. Even if it is grovelling to the masses and whimpering when they are told off for forgetting the micro-herb salad with truffle oil for table 2! Bloody Idiots, even my daughter could remember that. Christ, she even remembers how to make Fairy Cakes and when they should be removed from the oven on completion of there baking and she is only four!!!

If only I had been made redundant around this time of year and not in the freezing 'British Hell' of January! I would have been lying on the lawn today, chilled Pimms in one hand, Prime Scotch Beef burger in the other with a dash of Lea and Perrins and a grilled slice of J.S.Baileys Mature Cheddar. Maybe even a thick slice of Ayshire Bacon, crisp to the bite, culminating in a sharp, smooth and yet salty taste! You got to admit, you really cannot beat food porn!

Well, main post tomorrow my little Langoustines. Just thought a little taster would keep you fulfilled for the next 24 hours...Maybe even entice you into definitely reading tomorrow's post.

Bonne nuit mes bucardes et moules somnolentes. Puits de sommeil.

Le Chef Grincheux

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Front/Back Divide

Bon après-midi mes chipmunks gais

I hate Sundays...inept morons run around like headless chickens on cocaine trying to sit customers, give them menus and then take the orders...not exactly rocket science, is it? Nope, certainly ain't. That is why I, and many many other Chefs, use the term 'moron'. A 'moron' is a plate carrier, a soup jockey, a lowly serf...they are not only there to run around for the customer but the Chefs also. A term such as 'kitchen b***h' is commonly used to describe certain types of morons. They fetch drinks for the kitchen crew, cutlery when we eat, run errands to various shops for numerous items, mop floors, plate desserts and a plethora of various tasks.

In the eyes of a Chef, they are there for him. No one else! Its almost like having a gun dog. They come when they are called and execute the bidding of the Chef. That's it. No more...no less!

For many years this has been the staple of many a kitchen. Until recently 'morons' knew there place. Yet now I find myself in a world unknown to me...a parallel universe has appeared and these 'morons' seem to be treated equally. This sort of bugs me a little. Am I living in the past? Is this my ego trip coming to an end? Has every kitchen in the country taken leave of its senses? Apparently not!

Today, while cooking myself some dinner (a traditional Linguine Carbonara if you are interested) I looked toward one of the new 'morons' I have the displeasure of working in close proximity to and requested a set of cutlery and napkin along with a double espresso and a Red Bull and Coke Chaser on the side. So, what was the answer this 'moron' gave me? What impertinent statement emanated from the mouth of said 'moron'? (Any Chefs reading this please brace yourselves)... "I'm Busy...Get it yourself!".

Well, they say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...Satan and all his devilish minions have obviously never met a Chef!!!

I turned red then purple, my eyes began to blacken as a dark murk clouded my vision, fixed on my prey, my voice lowered and the words slowly began to rise from my vocal chords, a fiendish undertone shaking my dupe to his very core. Almost cowering, he seemed to prepare himself for the inevitable tyriad of verbal abuse that was about to rain down on his sorry, miserable ass! In his eyes, you could see he was already regretting his slip-up, his misdemeanor...his sacrilege!


It was at this point, his eyes had glazed over like he was starting to float away, off to a little happy place in his mind......I didn't notice, I didn't care. Sixteen years in the Trade and there was no way on this Earth a 'moron' was going to get away with it. Talk back at me????? Was this f**kwit insane? Deranged? Suicidal? Many before him had tried and suffered the consequences...Now it his turn, little s**t that he was!

I use the past tense in my last sentence as he is now languishing in my walk-in fridge, hog-tied, with a delightfully juicy Bramley apple in his mouth and my Sous Chef is currently dressing him in a robust Honey and Almond marinade for the next 48 hours before we drop him off at Knowsley Safari Park in the Baboon Sanctuary with a Banana tightly fixed between his bum cheeks! Let's be honest now, he will get off lightly.

In the immortal words of Mr Bob Dylan...'the times they are a' changin' but is it really the way forward? Personally, I think not. I was trained in an 'Old School' manner...Chefs were treated with honour, integrity and most of all respect! Commis were treated with disgust, contempt and aggression but we all moved up the ladder and became personable people!

With all this New Age hullabaloo focusing on bullying in the work place, extensive sexual innuendo, abusive verbal communication and numerous other unpolitically correct scenarios I have found myself in a type of 'no mans land', forever searching for that true and righteous kitchen that still understands the hierarchy of kitchens past. If it wasn't for the Industry only God knows where I would be! More often than not I liken the old form of training to National Service. You do your time, take all the s**t that is slung your way and come out the other end a better person...hopefully!

The youth of today have a lot to learn about respect...especially for their elders and if National Service wont be brought back to the forefront then its time our schools did!!! Our Governing bodies have become so tangled up in being politically correct that they have lost sight of the hopes and dreams of our previous leaders and academics. They have lost sight of the fundamentals that make Great Britain a country of family values and National Pride! In short...send the kitchens of Great Britain your delinquent and wayward teenagers, We as a collective will sort them out!

And now the news...as I have been out of touch with recent events, you may have picked up certain events that I haven't so please be patient with me...

A Muslim catering manager has taken the Metropolitan Police to tribunal claiming he was racially abused and threatened with the sack for refusing to cook pork.

The 'Chef' in question refused to cook any pork products due to religious values and now he feels persecuted and discriminated against for his beliefs. Okay, lets start with the physical aspect...Michael Caines has one arm and holds Michelin stars and numerous Chefs have extreme allergies to certain foodstuffs (I do also), on religious grounds I can understand someone not wanting to handle produce that is against their beliefs, but to apply and be accepted for a position in a kitchen environment that caters for the general Police workforce, even if promised you would not have to cook certain produce, is pretty laughable! Who would have thought that the British Constabulary would like Bacon or Sausage sandwiches...Unheard of!!!

Welcome to the world of ever expanding 'no win. no fee' law practices! In my opinion...DEAL WITH IT!!!

Very sad news now as country house hotel Shendish Manor in Hemel Hempstead has become the latest hotel to be placed into administration.

The 70-bedroom hotel was refurbished in 2007, adding a new hotel wing with 52 rooms, but it has been hit by falling demand.

Loved by many, Shendish Manor has our full support and our thoughts are with the staff at this current point in time. Hopefully the new owners will honour their obligations as proprietors and also honour the advanced bookings by numerous customers.

On a lighter note and going back to my 'National Pride' comment, I was wonderfully surprised on my way into work on Friday when I drove into the town of Audlem which is in the delightful county of Cheshire.

On my entrance to said village, I noticed an abundance of Union Jacks in the form of flags flying and masses of bunting all leading to the centre point of the village in front of St James Church. A sight I have never seen before except in photos of Coronations and 'times gone by' street parties.

This exuberance marks the beginning of the Audlem Festival 09 which manifests itself every year and is becoming more and more popular as the years go by. Mainly a music festival the village people get geared up for an onslaught of revellers, including the locals, who descend on the many establishments in the area to sing and dance the night away to local groups and solo artists.

For FULL information go to, http://www.audlemfestival.com/

Never before have I seen such a Community organise an event with such vigour.

These wonderful affairs on a regular basis. Time to let Britain shine!!!

On that 'wafer thin mint' I must bid you... Nice one Son! (For 'Nice One Son' read whatever dialect you would use to say 'Goodbye'...must make sure I include everyone or I'm for the chopping block!!!

Blimey! goodnight my bread an' butter puddings. . Nuff said, yeah? All the best, innit!

Le Chef Grincheux