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 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 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 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 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!