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

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 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 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 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