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 eat...one 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 staples...staples 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

Monday, 10 May 2010

Lets Get Ready To Ramble....BANG!

Bonjour mes petits goujons gastronomiques de morue légèrement battue!

Who in their right mind would enjoy days upon days walking around sodden fields, down canal tow-paths and through drenched forests? 

Said felons wearing classic garments of hiking boots, thick woollen green socks pulled over beige corduroy trousers, tweed flat caps, barbar coats and finishing the offending ensemble with a walking stick that conveniently folds out into a stool that resembles a giant speculum?

You got it dearest readers....Ramblers!  F***ing Ramblers!  Old aged Pensioners and Retired Professionals who have bugger all else to do with their time than to walk aimlessly along the highways and byways of Great Britain while discussing the intricate details of some sodding arrangement of fungi on an Oak tree! 

”What does this have to do with cooking Chef?”, I hear you cry?  Bloody everything!  Any Chef who still holds his sanity close to his heart (and there are a few of us left) has had to deal with these mouldy cretins at some point in their career. 

Let’s break it down for the uneducated amongst us....

You arrive at your kitchen on a reasonable day, usually mid-week and there is a booking in the reservations diary. In my case today, a table of 30.  Then you see it...that dreaded word...Ramblers (or Walkers).  You know your day just went tits up and it ain’t gonna get better!

You see, a booking such as that, instills fear in a Chef. 

He knows that time may be on his side to prepare, as they usually pre-order their meals, but it certainly won’t pan out that way!  They are the most irritating, misinformed arseholes that can grace your restaurant...worse than ‘Chavs and WAGS’!  At least they can be taken down a peg or two with the classic question; ”So, what do you do exactly?”

But ‘these’ people are of an intelligence that knows no humour or understands the concept of piss taking...they are the worst!  You could insult and disrespect them to the ends of the earth but it will be lost in a smelting pot of thoughts had at the time.  Wondering if they fed the cat...If the oven has been left on...When did Labour get into 10 Downing Street?..What’s for Dinner?...Semolina is nice...Countdown soon... What's for dinner?...I like Question Time and that Robin Day is a delight…

(You really have no idea what's going on do you?)

Oh my socks have fallen down...Semolina for Dinner...I prefer Blancmange...or Semolina...is that Carol Vorderman?...She’s gained weight...Oh the cat’s hungry ... Have you seen the price of Tena Lady ?

God it’s bloody endless...I fell asleep typing that (not surprising really)

It gets worse when they arrive at the restaurant.  Confusion reigns supreme.  All plates are set and ready to go...but Lord Jones-Smythe the third Earl of Pottering Village is missing and Mrs Reminington Putz has lost her Ordnance Survey map of the Lake district (rather strange considering she was in Cheshire) and is searching the 3rd Lock of the Debenham/Selfridge Canal Junction...”Could you hold the meals until they return? ”  No I bloody well cant!  I have people paying good money to eat here!  Proper foodies!  Not some jumped up snobs who forage for a species of slug just to stand there and go "Ooooo what a lovely pattern.  Now that was a find"

The "crowning turd in the water pipe" comes at the end of the meal.  When I say meal of course I mean Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes and the odd Salad.  The morons have my sympathy on this one which doesn't happen often.  It is the 'individual pay scheme' they seem to use every time they visit an establishment.  Asking each other who had what meal or drink.  Delving into to mud crusted pockets to pay for said meal and/or drink with a mass of coinage in various denominations, usually 2p's, 5p's and 10p's, while spouting off about the till needing the change or that they are getting rid of their shrapnel!  Do us all a favour and either decide on a price with the establishment, bung £20 into a kitty or just stay at home and stop going out altogether!  I prefer the latter.

The final straw arrives as they leave.  The smell.  Before we get into a debate about the general odours of an OAP, this has nothing to do with it...well maybe a bit, but not in whole.  The smell is a culmination of offending odours...usually, but not limited to; Rose Petal Perfume, the countryside, animal hair (mainly wet animal hair) and formaldehyde.  The 'Blue Rinse Brigade' ain't got nothing on these people.

Did they tip?  Did anyone tip?  Don't be so bloody stupid!

So, in retrospect, I have a message for all those Hunters out there...in the woods and fields...waiting patiently for a fallow deer prancing through the glade, a pheasant donned in its beautiful plumage or a herd of rabbits hopping in the morning sun...If you see a group dressed as above and making warbling noises into the trees...SHOOT THE BUGGERS!  I implore you!  You will be making the day of many a Chef and you will be handsomely rewarded.  Yet be warned...if you visit a Restaurant or Hotel to inform a Chef of your good deeds, lock your vehicle.  It wont be thieves nicking your stereo or hubcaps...it will be a crew of Chefs, a Band of Brothers riffling through your boot and 'half-inching' the vast quantities of Game from your days endeavours!  You have been warned!

Anyway...on a lighter note...the news!

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White is to open a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Gril in Liverpool next year.

The former three-Michelin-starred chef will launch the restaurant at the city’s Hotel Indigo, a £15m boutique hotel currently under construction in Chapel Street, in Liverpool’s commercial district.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, which is set to open in spring 2011, marks White’s fourth North-west venture following the launch of a restaurant and events venue at the Swan Inn Aughton and a steakhouse at the Double Tree by Hilton Chester earlier this year.

White said the Liverpool restaurant would be somewhere for friends and family to gather in relaxed surroundings and enjoy simple food, cooked well.

No matter what anyone says, Marco is truly the Godfather of Modern Cooking!  He knows what He likes and tells it straight.  You don't  like it?  Well thanks very much for reading, have a great night and I am sure we wont see you again! 

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is being sued by a US wine merchant over more than $40,000 (£27,000) of unpaid bills at his eponymous restaurant in New York.

Wineberry America is suing Ramsay and Blackstone Group, which now operates the two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the London hotel in midtown Manhattan after the chef handed over its control last year.

According to court papers filed at the Supreme Court of New York this week, the wine merchant was “fraudulently induced” to provide alcohol to the restaurant. The papers accuse both Ramsay and the Blackstone Group of never having had any “intention” of paying for the supplied alcohol.
A spokesman for Ramsay told the Daily Telegraph: “We are in the process of working through any outstanding claims in regard to the London NYC and bills will be paid in due course.”

For those of you that know me, I am not the biggest Chef Ramsay fan.  I have a lifelong subscription to the Marco Camp and that is where I will stay...saying that, I think it is about time Chef Ramsay got a bit of a break!  Especially from the lawsuits and the media.  When it comes down to it, he is a Chef.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Let him get on with what he does best...COOK!  

On that Culinary Bombshell it is time for some news on yours truly...

For those that missed it I have a piece in ONE Magazine again.  The link can be found on the 'Beyond The Hotplate' Section and I have been asked to write again...Yes...I am the lucky one!  Next edition should be June so sign up to ONE and keep yourself posted because I certainly don't have the time!

The Blog layout has changed...For better or for worse?  Suggestions will be kindly accepted and sent to the incinerator if I dont agree.

Website is on hold (nothing new there) but work will be beginning soon...I promise!

Until next time my Culinary Kumquats...Prenez soin de vous-même et

Le Chef Grincheux

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Food Of The Fat Gods (As Published in ONE Magazine)

Bonjour mes petites cocottes en terre perdues d'agneau ! Il a été trop long!

We all have vices and habits, they're human nature. They get us through our day and make us happy. Unfortunately now, one too many of my happy habits have been ruined by the ever expanding universe of food marketing which has become flooded with jumped up, opinionated oinks dictating what we should eat. Frankly, I choose to care not whether many processed products will increase my chances of getting some form of Cancer — my smoking, alcohol consumption and stressful working environment will take care of all that in due course.
Our parents and grandparents have been eating stodge and junk for decades, but all of a sudden, almost everything that got them through the Great Depression and a war-torn 20th Century is now bad for us. How unpatriotic. On one side, the 'moderationists'. On the other, the 'live life to the fullest' cowboys. “Never give in to cretins that have never lived on the breadline or tried to feed a family on a pittance!” an old friend advises.

Caught in the middle: chefs like me. After an crazy session at work, we like nothing more than to retire to our front room, get settled and begin a certain evening ritual. All Chefs have one. I collapse on my favourite sofa after a shower, smoking, drinking alcohol and watching television before proceeding to devour some combination of a sweet and sour Pot Noodle, cheese and honey roasted ham sandwich, or my favourite ‘mash up’ of pepperami and cream cheese pasta with a big chunk of Soda Bread smothered in virgin oil and covered in sea salt. What a feast!
Do you find it strange that professional chefs would lower themselves to eat such processed junk food? We break sweat everyday creating some of the finest gastronomically delectable delights available, yet when we retire to our abodes, we eat mass produced, factory manufactured garbage? Damn right we do! Where else should we get our energy? Coffee? Energy drinks? Iced tea? High end drugs? A combination of all four? Something has to propel us along.

Picture the daily routine: Ranges, grills, fryers and ovens are fired up as Chefs' prepare and don their pristine white jackets, black and white checkerboard trousers and ‘’toque blanche’. The resonance of stainless steel against diamond encrusted metal permeates as knives are sharpened to a keen edge. Table surfaces are polished to a glistening sheen, kitchen porters stack plates in hot cupboards, sweep the floors and dispose of lunchtime rubbish bags. The atmosphere and tension begins to mount soon as the first patrons begin to arrive. Before long, what I call 'the dance of the morons' will begin, a crescendo of "Check On" and "Table Clear" will echo amid the white tiled walls of the kitchen. Hackles will rise and the minions will shudder with petrification as the Chef begins his long tirade of orders and verbal abuse, with everything coming together in perfect synchronisation for each table. A tense, exquisite harmony organised chaos.

The aftermath is an elated feeling that consumes your whole being. A buzz of great magnitude that usually results, in my kitchen anyway, with an impromptu karaoke of classic chilled hits along the lines of ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’ by the ‘always amazing but dead’ Ian Dury and the Blockheads mixed in with some New York punk.
Then comes the rituals. Lower level chefs earn a pittance and can’t really even afford to get to work, let alone an evening eating foie gras, veal or blowfish. Processed foods are part of their, our, everyday lives. What some would call the food of the gods is with us, and comes in many forms, conveniently wrapped in cellophane – cheap to buy and easily produced.
Many governing bodies now state that you are at greater risk of particular types of Cancer if you eat these products… Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting a diet of highly sugared breakfast cereals and slices of ground hooves and ox genitalia, but if people fancy that piece of white bread crowned with canned Ravioli or Tortilla Chips (Nacho Cheese flavour topped with Cheez Whiz) then why not?

As a professional, I feel we are now over-complicating food. Extravagant adaptations of classics from all over the known world are taking an industry of purity and finesse, stuffing it with foie gras, wrapping with chorizo and pomegranate seeds, then deep frying it in extortionately expensive extra virgin olive oil. Serving the resulting over a flavoured swamp turd on a bed of grated carrot, celeriac and pilchards drizzled with a sauce of pressed oysters and sweet basil and finishing with a sprinkle of brick dust. Delectable. Want to clog an artery? Give this a try:

Chefs Pasta Mash Up
Quite simple really. Go to your nearest supermarket or food court, purchase a small tub of soft cream cheese (NO LOW FAT), a couple of Pepperamis (I find the hot and spicy ones the best) and a pack of your favourite dried pasta. Personally I prefer Linguine. Cook pasta according to packet guidelines. Take Pepperamis, slice thinly and add to a pan with a knob of butter or margarine and sauté over a medium heat. If you are starting to feel guilty about the saturated fats which begin to leak from the sausage – add mushrooms to soak it up…no one will see. Cook until the sausage begins to darken and add the pasta into the pan. Allow it soak up the ‘flavours’ and then add a good helping of Cream Cheese. Cook for a few minutes, season and serve. Total preparation and cook time…10 minutes max. Total fat content and ‘nasty stuff’ that you shouldn’t really be eating…

WHO CARES? Bon Appetit!

Editor's note: ONE Magazine/The Grumpy Chef is not responsible for diabetes, heart failure, or any other health issue that could in whole or in part be related to the Grumpy Chef recipes.

Excuse me while I get an Alka Seltzer.

Le Chef Grincheux

Monday, 11 January 2010

Genesis of a Grumpy Chef (As published in ONE magazine)

Bonsoir mes merveilles d'or scrumptious de sel et au vinaigre!

I don’t quite know where it all started...my own grumpy love of food. Maybe it was the mounds and pounds of brussels sprouts I was forced to peel on Christmas at three years old. Maybe it was my first corporate kitchen experience, dissecting and quartering forty frozen, pre-roasted chickens leaving my entire torso and brand new pristine-white clogs covered in chicken fat, hen skin and soggy giblets. When I returned home after my delightful first day, my Father, who’d never so much as run a vacuum cleaner in seventeen years guarded the front door until I stripped to my boxers in the street and binned my uniform.

I remember now, it was my first ‘real’ kitchen job in a two-rosette restaurant. I was the Commis Extraordinaire, lowliest of the low; the bottom rung of the ladder, Orwell’s plongeur: a young target for every Jolly-Jack-Tar to push, pull, punch, cajole, kick, and once, even try to ram an entire Salmon up my young a— . With this, came the realisation that most, if not all, Chef’s are nasty, sarcastic, drunk, narcissists with a penchant for depravity (see: ‘Salmon’). This was the beginning of my evolutionary process; where it all began. But one incident in particular made me the crabby cuisinier I am today—when ‘The Grumpy Chef’ was born.

First, take a flavoursome Pâté de Foie Gras: finished with a vibrant caramelized red onion chutney and robust slices of airy Brioche toasted to perfection; followed by a salad of peppery Mizuna and fresh cilantro, gently dressed with extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper and crunchy rock salt. The result: a plated orgasm, erotically enticing any lucky recipient to dine in sublime ecstasy.

Next, add the f*ing “customer” who sent the dish back. ‘Why?’ you may ask. Why send back a wonderfully crafted plate of delightful flavour and texture that took such a great amount of time and skill to create? Answer: his girlfriend, who’d decided that right then, there, at my table six, would be the perfect time to tell him l’origine de foie gras — that a goose had its bill opened, a tube shoved down inside, and then had been force-fed until its liver was on the near point of exploding just so we could cut it out and enjoy. So what? I worked long and hard on that pate, first time on my own without one of those Chef de Partie numpties screaming in my ear and down my neck, which, I could stand—but a plate return, never!! A dish created lovingly and brought to your table at the zenith of perfection and you send it back? To that ‘person’ I say this ... to this day I hold only contempt for you, and your kin — which only fuels my passion.

Ladies and Gentlemen...The Grumpy Chef is trying to give up those atrocious sticks of pure evil called 'cigarettes'. God help us all...any ideas who is gonna help God though? I don't.

News, news, news. Yours truly has been asked to write for ONE Magazine again! At least I am good for something. Initial draft due in by Friday and publication should be released on the 25th January. If you would like to keep an eye on my ramblings there then please follow the link in the 'Beyond The Hotplate' section. Also, to remind you all I am twittering now...so follow me at the top of this page and for those on Facebook, the Grumpy Chef Groupies Page needs some more members and as always all comments are gladly welcomed.

Until next time my delightful Snozberries...

Friday, 1 January 2010

The Greek, The Steak, The String and His Customer

Bonsoir mon bavardage et blowfish fortement toxique...

How should a steak be eaten? Anyone who just made the comment, 'With a knife and fork...snigger...snigger', will be promptly hunted down and have their genitalia beaten severely with a tenderiser! It is a serious question. One that has been asked since the first human decided that maybe yanking on this dangling thingy was a bad idea and decided to cut it open and cook it...even before they realised you could milk the other gender!

Everyone has their own preference. Its like a cup of tea! You make your own cup as it has taken you a good half decade to get it just right...because so many factors have to be taken into account and you have it down to a perfect art. My Father is the perfect example...Teabag in first, then water that has boiled but settled for approximately 10 seconds, the cup is then filled 3/4 full, held over the sink and the bag is dunked in and out of the water six times (no more, no less) and finally the milk is added to just below the rim of the cup. Add two Rich Tea biscuits or if the occasion permits, a Penguin, and that is him on his way to 'Tetley Heaven'. Sad B*****d!

A succulent piece of prime Heffer is just the same...no one will ever cook it the same as you. Every Chef I know and have known over the years will constantly argue over the correct colouring, blood flow and texture of 'Medium-Rare' or any of the other variants we have.

In my opinion, there are only 3 levels when cooking a piece of Steak...Blue (also affectionately known as 'Kill it, Wipe its arse and Plate it), Rare (I would usually give around 2 mins each side then rest for 5 minutes) and finally Medium-Rare (pink throughout with a nice flow of blood and juices meandering through each other as it rests on my board). Cook a Steak any longer than that and you have a catastrophe!!!

Now I am not going to sit here berating others for having their Steaks cooked over M-R but I will go into the reasons why they should try and develop some taste buds! Not only is this blog post educational, but it could save your Life...and probably your Soul, you cold-hearted B******s! (sorry, force of habit...Hehe!)

If you order Medium or Medium-Well you will usually fore go any right to be served a decent cut of beef. For the likes of you 'safe-eaters' the cut you will be served is from either side of the section usually saved for Chateaubriand (which is the section that the Chef will, majority of the time, have for his evening meal on a Saturday night after service). Its not the best cut, but it certainly ain't the worst. Please bare in mind at this point that you are still paying the same price as all the other God-like Humans on this planet that are ordering the best cut of beef and enjoying its more intense and mouth-watering flavours. In my experience, cretins...sorry, people eating this way are usually open to suggestion and a few that have actually listened to me in the past are still enjoying steaks but cooked correctly and no more than M-R...some even went from M-W to Rare in a matter of hours after an extremely persuasive cooking demonstration with myself and the cast of a Cravendale advert

As for the the Heathens of this world, the non-believers, the ex-abattoir inspectors, the overly safe-eaters...the piece of beef you receive all dressed up with sauce and prettiness has been reserved for you for quite a while! You must feel honoured, but please understand that this 'honour' will be short lived. You will get your steak 'Well Done'! It will arrive cremated on your plate like the sole of a 1920's Brouge...dry and lifeless! It wont be from the most juiciest part of the cut, it wont be from the outskirts of 'downtown delectable', it will be from either the largest end which sits near the Rump (or arse for those of a non culinary nature) or it will be removed form the other end which falls into the Short Loin (or 'Witches Hat' end due to its shape) and beaten flat before cooking. Not to tenderise but to make sure that when the shriveled piece of leather is plated it still covers some of the plate.

The piece you have been given will have been sitting in a service fridge or reach-in for a while and it is the piece that has been pushed to the back over the past several days until you have sauntered in and ordered the abomination that is 'Well Done'! To explain so you understand the nature of your follies...a story!

I once knew an amazing Chef. He was Greek and his name was...Costas! Great name and very predictably un-PC! Costas could serve 100 people on his own even if they had just pulled up outside on two buses without prior booking and present a fantastic meal for them. Give him four middle class Accountants sitting down for a pre-booked a la carte dinner experience and it was usual to see him running around like a headless chicken with its tail feathers on fire!

Well, this restaurant had its regular customers...mostly from the older contingency that meandered around the town looking for a deal or two and moaning if the soup didn't appear to be bubbling in its bowl when served and then letting it cool down as it was to hot to stomach!

One customer used to come in every Friday at 2pm. Every Friday he would shuffle to his usual table, order his glass of Sherry and place his food order...a Well Done Fillet Steak with Hand Cut Chips. He had been a regular of two months and always complained...'the Steak was awful'...'crap'...'no flavour'...'wrong texture'...'I wouldn't even feed it to my dog'!

Eventually fed up with this scenario repeating itself over and over again, Costas decided to do something about it. One Friday morning he arrived at his usual time and grabbed a piece of Fillet steak from his service fridge...the rump end if you are interested. He proceeded to tie a piece of string around the steak and tied the other end of the string to the rear loop of his Chef trousers. When he let go of the steak it fell behind him and landed on the tiled floor with a delightful thud. Costas, I am lead to believe, smiled!

So, for the next four hours, the steak bounced around behind Costas wherever he went..around the kitchens, down the store room corridors...outside to the bin stores...while he carried on with his usual day. When 2pm came...the order came in! Fillet Steak 'Well Done' with Hand Cut Chips.

Costas removed the steak from the entwined string, washed it of under the cold tap and massacred it!!! It was pasnfried, deep fried, weighted down on the top of the flat stove and grilled about an inch away from the flames. Conclusion to this story..

The customer complimented Costas on finally getting it right...in person! Costas frog marched the customer out of the restaurant and politely told him to 'F**k Off, don't come back here again'!

Harsh? No! Necessary? Yes! Will you remember this? Please do!

So, have we answered the question? Not really. If you want to appear like someone who understands the fundamentals of cookery , flavour and texture then order correctly. You want to appear as some dozy twonk who has no idea what a steak should taste like, then carry on. Who knows where your steak has been? Bon Apetite!

On that Culinary Note my wonderful Wontons...

Bonne nuit mes lecteurs évalués et nouvelle année heureuse!