Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Cheating chefs leave bad taste with fake food


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 iharrison

iharrison
  • participating member
  • 301 posts
  • Location:Montreal

Posted 09 June 2006 - 10:12 PM

<A HREF="http://www.timesonli...344_1,00.html">Joel Robuchon and Alain Passard speak out</A>

#2 The Old Foodie

The Old Foodie
  • participating member
  • 578 posts
  • Location:Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where it is beautiful one day, perfect the next.

Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:04 AM

This is the culinary equivalent of "athletes" who enhance their performance by taking drugs. Cheating, plain and simple.
Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

#3 Shalmanese

Shalmanese
  • participating member
  • 3,373 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:05 AM

Huh, how odd that nobody seems to have heard about this before? I would totally buy some of those aromas and play around with them if they're good enough for restaurant use. David Burke released some aroma sprays a while back but all indications were that they tasted horrible.
PS: I am a guy.

#4 Grub

Grub
  • legacy participant
  • 1,120 posts
  • Location:CA, USA

Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:29 AM

I've seen some high end, avant-garde fancypants joints doing something sort of like this -- but that was done openly (and with non-artificial ingredients) and brought to the table in the form of a spray container that would be sprayed onto the customer's tongue...

This is terrible.

It's exactly the same as what happens in the fast food world, where pre-made, frozen hamburger patties have been processed so much that they have no taste left, and thus they are processed with artificial flavoring -- ala Fast Food Nation.

It's worse than the steroiding athlete analogy: for McD to use artificial flavoring is like cheating in the Olympics -- for a supposedly proper restaurant to do it, is like cheating in the Special Olympics.

#5 beandork

beandork
  • participating member
  • 92 posts
  • Location:bournemouth, UK

Posted 10 June 2006 - 02:07 AM

I'd say it's a grey area.

On the one hand, you have a new breed of chef and restaurant who will use any technique or ingredient at hand to achieve the best cooking and flavours possible, even using ideas or ingredients from industrial food preparation companies. I'm getting a mental image of Ferran crushing peach smints and rolling a peach in it then sauteing it, from the bourdain/el bulli episode.

But on the other hand, if a restaurant is known for its rustic/classical approach and adherence to seasonal ingredients I can see how some people would be put out by the use of artificial flavourings.

I personally don't mind the use of additives just as long as the flavour or dish in front of me is awesome. If someone made a compound like a crayon which had the same flavour/texture as white truffle without going off and 1/100th the price, I'd love it.

I see a bit of debate on the way, in any case.

#6 Eden

Eden
  • participating member
  • 959 posts

Posted 10 June 2006 - 07:23 AM

Interesting, I looked a bit at the ChefSimon website but lacking French couldn't tell if they have ingredient lists for the products (I think not?)
Beyond the controversial side of "is this cheating?" this would be my biggest concern: what if one of the ingredients is peanut oil? or shellfish? just to name two common food allergies. If you're telling your customers that they're eating truffled pasta, they should be safe in trusting that what they're eating is pasta flavored with truffle and not having to ask "does this contain seafood?" when it's not in the menu description or anyones reasonable assumption of what the dish would include...
Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

#7 Shalmanese

Shalmanese
  • participating member
  • 3,373 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 10 June 2006 - 07:32 AM

This is terrible.

It's exactly the same as what happens in the fast food world, where pre-made, frozen hamburger patties have been processed so much that they have no taste left, and thus they are processed with artificial flavoring -- ala Fast Food Nation.

It's worse than the steroiding athlete analogy: for McD to use artificial flavoring is like cheating in the Olympics -- for a supposedly proper restaurant to do it, is like cheating in the Special Olympics.

View Post


Eh, if it doesn't taste good then restaurant patrons should be able to detect it and avoid restaurants that use it and it'll die it's natural death. If it does taste good, then I don't see why it can't be a legitimate tool in the kitchen. I don't see much difference between this and me slipping in some tomato paste into my pasta sauces because the canned tomatos I'm using are weak and anemic. Or what about throwing in a cube of demiglace into a batch of onion confit to boost the flavour?
PS: I am a guy.

#8 alanamoana

alanamoana
  • participating member
  • 2,738 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 10 June 2006 - 08:11 AM

quite a bit of the truffle oil used in restaurants is artificially flavored or enhanced. so if you go to one of those places that makes mushroom pizza with truffle oil all over the top, that's what you're eating. they say on the menu "truffle oil", but that stuff is really expensive for the "real" thing. sort of like using vanilla extract instead of whole vanilla beans.

#9 jenc

jenc
  • participating member
  • 319 posts
  • Location:Toronto

Posted 10 June 2006 - 08:16 AM

Hmn. I think I look at this like art. To me, chefs are artists - they just paint with a pallette of flavour and texture. So when I hear that there are chefs who use canned flavours, I look at it as someone who is imitating. The skill of a chef is being able to bring out the foods' qualities, not rely on artificial means to do so.

I mean, why do I bother using pure vanilla extract in my baking then? It just somehow means more when you can say every thing you made was from natural ingredients.

Also, if high-end restos are doing this, then why am I paying high-end prices for it?
foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

#10 Big Country

Big Country
  • participating member
  • 93 posts

Posted 10 June 2006 - 08:45 AM

I'd say it's a grey area.

On the one hand, you have a new breed of chef and restaurant who will use any technique or ingredient at hand to achieve the best cooking and flavours possible, even using ideas or ingredients from industrial food preparation companies. I'm getting a mental image of Ferran crushing peach smints and rolling a peach in it then sauteing it, from the bourdain/el bulli episode.

But on the other hand, if a restaurant is known for its rustic/classical approach and adherence to seasonal ingredients I can see how some people would be put out by the use of artificial flavourings.

I personally don't mind the use of additives just as long as the flavour or dish in front of me is awesome. If someone made a compound like a crayon which had the same flavour/texture as white truffle without going off and 1/100th the price, I'd love it.

I see a bit of debate on the way, in any case.

View Post

I completely disagree!!!! The thing that makes truffle so special is the SEASON. I use fresh truffle and shell out the money to pay for them. As do my customers. White truffle oil is an ok at best product. :unsure: Nothing can compare to the real thing.

I think Chefs in general need to take a step back and get the hell out of the lab and into the kitchen or farmers market!!! People these days have a hard enough time know where their food comes from. :huh: They don't have a clue when it come to farms, animal husbantry and growing seasons. Creating artificial flavors or additives is the last thing that the public needs. What they should be doing is going out and tasting seasonally artisanal product!!! Ok I will get off of my soapbox.
It is easier to change a menu than a growing season.

#11 H. du Bois

H. du Bois
  • participating member
  • 516 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 10 June 2006 - 09:24 AM

That "zest of bottled scallop" thing scares the shit out of me (scallop allergy sufferer here). If its presence is unidentifiable and unacknowledged, how will I avoid the disaster that follows ingesting it? Never eat out?

#12 The Old Foodie

The Old Foodie
  • participating member
  • 578 posts
  • Location:Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where it is beautiful one day, perfect the next.

Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:32 PM

I think the issue is using "artificial" flavourings (and I dont mean oil-infused-with-truffle etc here, where the individual ingredients are indeed authentic) and allowing the customer to believe that the flavours are from the real thing - which is simply dishonest.

If a chef uses these flavour-enhancers (and I dont mean boosting the tomato pasta sauce with tomato paste - assuming it is made from tomatoes!) and is open about it, that is OK - OK as long as you like your kitchen to be akin to a chemical laboratory that is (I dont, I like it to be in a direct line between the farmers' market and the dinner table).
Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

#13 Grub

Grub
  • legacy participant
  • 1,120 posts
  • Location:CA, USA

Posted 10 June 2006 - 02:48 PM

Eh, if it doesn't taste good then restaurant patrons should be able to detect it and avoid restaurants that use it ...

View Post

Absolutely not. That's like justifying forgery because the restaurant staff should be able to tell the difference between real and fake money.

#14 BryanZ

BryanZ
  • participating member
  • 2,700 posts
  • Location:NJ,NYC,NC

Posted 10 June 2006 - 10:41 PM

I think I fall into the gray area camp. Ultimately, a restaurant's job is to put out the best-tasting food. Fundamentally, if a new process can produce better results, why not use it?

This case, however, suggests a deliberate deception aimed toward customers. I don't believe that restaurants have to disclose every method or ingredient they use but do have a responsibility to be truthful and to be aware of their customers' general well-being.

As others have said, it seems to fall on the "type" of restaurant. In some instances I suppose that it's "cheating" but in others it's "progress" and "creativity."

#15 beandork

beandork
  • participating member
  • 92 posts
  • Location:bournemouth, UK

Posted 10 June 2006 - 11:13 PM

I completely disagree!!!!  The thing that makes truffle so special is the SEASON.  I use fresh truffle and shell out the money to pay for them.  As do my customers.  White truffle oil is an ok at best product.  :unsure:  Nothing can compare to the real thing. 

I think Chefs in general need to take a step back and get the hell out of the lab and into the kitchen or farmers market!!!  People these days have a hard enough time know where their food comes from.  :huh:  They don't have a clue when it come to farms, animal husbantry and growing seasons.  Creating artificial flavors or additives is the last thing that the public needs.  What they should be doing is going out and tasting seasonally artisanal product!!!    Ok I will get off of my soapbox.

View Post


True. Probably where I differ is I don't have the resources to have the real thing. At the risk of going completely without, I'll take an imitation that at least hints at what I'm missing whether that's a white truffle oil, compound, etc. I know in most cases, nothing beats the Real Thing, but I believe there is a place for imitation/artificial flavours.

I believe that markets and seasonality are the key to good produce and good cooking, but I just think there is a significant grey area. A convoluted example is when I had a fish eye in japan, and it was injected with soy sauce and mirin...in this case the flavour was injected, and the distillation of mirin is a process not a million miles from the creation of flavourings. The technique wasn't new, and the fish eye was delicious.
Were someone to get machine-reclaimed chicken, cast it into a chicken mould, and soak it with a bresse flavour emulator synthesised from plastic byproduct, THEN I would feel that there was some jiggery-pokery happening.

#16 Mikeb19

Mikeb19
  • participating member
  • 405 posts

Posted 11 June 2006 - 01:30 AM

I'll walk out on a limb here - I foresee this whole 'molecular gastronomy' thing going away in a few years. As fun as it is to play with chemicals (I've done plenty of it), the best food I've ever had is the old-fashioned completely natural kind.

For instance, I can't stand truffle 'oil'. It tastes so fake it's not funny, I don't think it adds a thing to the food. Certainly doesn't come close to the real thing (of which I've tasted plenty). Ditto for 'mirin' seasoning, real mirin is much better, and North American caviar certainly doesn't come close to Caspian. If you can't afford a certain product, then don't try to imitate it. Even the most humble ingredients can be made into a luxury meal with a little thought and technique. I think back to my culinary heritage (Ukrainian cooking) - beets and potatoes are incredibly cheap, but Borsch can be amazing if properly done, and Varenyky/perohy (commonly known as perogies) can be very luxurious, they're my favourite potato preparation (although the vast majority out there are terrible).

The best thing to come out of the molecular gastronomy craze is the techniques and knowledge gained about food (sous-vide cooking, equipment like the paco-jet and thermomix, stuff like the 65 degree egg), alot of it is applicable for everyday cooking. But artificial flavourings deserve to die a slow death. And as fun as it is for a cook to make foams, imitation 'cavier' and 'ravioli', I really don't enjoy eating that stuff. And don't forget the over-reduced sauces (I liken it to serving orange juice concentrate instead of plain OJ, even though the flavour is stronger it really isn't as pleasurable).

Sorry for the rant, but cooking is my passion/career and seeing/tasting some of the stuff out there makes me sick and upset...

p.s. - It's also unfair to the customer/guest - many people are unfamiliar with haute cuisine, or even properly executed cuisine, and are led to believe this 'fake' cuisine is the real deal, thus being unfairly separated from their money. I know many people who were turned off completely by haute cuisine because they had a meal at a restaurant serving this 'fake' stuff and thus have no idea what real food is :angry:

Edited by Mikeb19, 11 June 2006 - 01:46 AM.


#17 Corinna Dunne

Corinna Dunne
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,312 posts
  • Location:Dublin, Ireland

Posted 12 June 2006 - 03:26 AM

Chefsimon.com says that its products “faithfully reproduce the sought-after tastes



With France’s annual truffle production falling from 800 tonnes to 12 tonnes during that period and prices now reaching €4,000 (£2,700) a kilo, he has developed an artificial truffle oil, which he says is popular.  A 250ml bottle costs just €7, and enables cooks to add the distinctive taste of the great delicacy to their dishes



It sounds to me like the food must be vile, and Chef Simon and his customers must not possess a single taste bud between them. Synthetic flavours taste synthetic... I feel sick just thinking about this stuff being sprayed over food.
Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"
CorinaHardgrave Twitter