I don't know, I feel there is a double 'conceptual' mistake at the heart of all this.
First, the belief, in my view a little immature, that there is a single 'best' produce in each category: 'the best scallops', 'the best turbot', etc. There are many ways to be great for a piece of seafood or meat, and it is preposterous to believe to have identified the unique best. I come from a country where cuisine is strongly ingredient-based, and where many people, people like us I mean, are obsessed by quality of produce, and I honestly believe that I have eaten stuff to which nothing can be declared superior (just caugtht Mediterranean fish that brings tear to your eyes so good it is, rare breeds of pork or lamb or cows you've never heard of, unbelievable vegetables, bread and pasta from superselected flours, etc.), yet I wouldn't for one moment say I have eaten the unique best. Another farmer in the next valley may be raising equally, yet differently, flavoursome lambs; another restaurant may know a different fisherman who procures equally marvelous seabass. In the two times I was at Hedone I found the produce truly excellent, but hand on heart I could not say that the scallops or the pork or the turbot I had there were uniquely the best: I've had equally marvellous scallops, pork or turbot in Italy, France, Spain and yes, even the UK - here in Scotland in particular, and, I should notice, without all the strained obsession and fanfare and worshipping choruses that seems to accompany Jonsson's searches. (To be fair, I'll make an exception for the pigeon). The fact that Jonsson is deeply obsessed does not mean that he will in the end find a pork that is definitely superior to that served by every single other chef in the UK: does there exist a uniquely best farmer that raises pigs, cows, lambs just for Jonsson, or a special fisherman who knows a special race of turbot caught in a special spot of water nobody else knows just for Jonsson? Come on. Rest assured that Ducasse and his suppliers, and others, will find equally good turbots.
The second point I would make is this. Even assuming Jonsson's produce had a slight edge on everybody else's, we are really talking nuances here, subtle nuances that can be undone by many other factors. Notably, cooking. Now, Jonsson's feat of opening a restaurant at this level given his background is nothing short of amazing and I admire him enormously for this - but the fact remains that being a top chef, in particular a 2* level chef as many say, is setting the bar very high, a bar that in my visits he was very, very, very far from passing, and thus a bar that is set ridiculously high for what Hedone is. This is my opinion of course, but while the cooking was good, there was some coarseness and some inconsistency of execution that makes it almost offensive for other very hard working professionals, who've perhaps sacrificed their youth undergoing terribly tough and long and disciplined training, to be compared to what can olny be described as a (very) talented amateur. Yes Andy Hayler and Matthew, we have understood that at Hedone we find scallops that are still wriggling so fresh they are, and that therefore they are very sweet: yet a great dish of scallops is not the winner in a competition for the sweetest scallops in the world. It is the winner in a competition for the best and most originally prepared scallops in the world. And in this competition the Hedone dish did not even make it to the podium.
Edited by Man, 15 July 2012 - 01:49 AM.