Secrets of the Incredible Shrinking Brigade
Posted 14 August 2003 - 03:06 AM
To be fair, we found the veal cheeks quite acceptable at dinner, as did the couple we were dining with, the exceedingly-well-traveled gastronomes Vedat Milor, known on eGullet as “vmilor” and his wife Linda. Nothing about the veal cheeks or any of the other dishes we had hinted of having been frozen. Yet we couldn’t help wonder whether the restaurant has gone as far as it can go using these pouches, and whether Michelin would take away the Villa Fiordalisa's star were they able to confirm the restaurant’s use of seal-a-meal bags.
Anyone who has dined regularly in Europe over the past 15 years will know that the number of workers in "haute cuisine” restaurant kitchens has been reduced by 50% or more over this period. Some restaurants that are a notch below the top tier get by with cooking staffs of six or less. An immediate symptom of this is the sharply reduced choice of dishes and the increasing use of fixed menus, sometimes to the point of offering little or no choice whatsoever.
I am interested in the ways in which restaurateurs and chefs are getting by with smaller brigades through the use of technology and procedures in the kitchen.
How you feel about the use of "boil a meal" bags, either as a diner or a chef?
Do you feel that it is cheating to use them, or at least to use them without revealing it?
What else do you know about short cuts in the kitchen and what they imply?
Do you think that these techniques are a detriment to good and honest dining or that they are beneficial because they reduce the costs of providing good food?
Posted 14 August 2003 - 04:17 AM
As the techniques become more sophisticated, the labor costs go up and the clientelle become less discriminating, expect this trend to accellerate. The mortal enemy of the best is not the worst, but the almost-as-good.
Posted 15 August 2003 - 01:28 PM
Posted 15 August 2003 - 02:20 PM
Posted 15 August 2003 - 03:30 PM
Manufacturers aim for uniformity, but this is not inevitable. For instance we regularly buy Copella apple juice, squeezed and immediately bottled with only light pasteurization. It must be kept regrigerated. It is indeed mass produced, but the apples come from a wide variety of sources and at different times of the season the juice tastes different, precisely because the pressings are not held over a period of time and blended in order at achieve uniformity. It's not the best apple juice on the market, but it's good, it's reasonably priced and it's honest.
Posted 27 September 2003 - 09:58 AM
A.L.B. Grimod de la Reyniere
'Almanach des gourmands'