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Everything posted by Mikeb19

  1. Maybe... But is there any chef who has done this?
  2. I think it's great chefs are sticking up for certain traditions. I personally can't stand it when customers make silly requests, act rudely, and don't want to eat what's offered (this goes for any kind of restaurant, not just sushi). Chefs don't train for their whole lives so that customers treat can them like servants.
  3. The last time I saw Aoki was in Tokyo last March at his pastry shop. Is he headquartered in Paris? ← Yes. He opened his first shop in Paris, is based out of Paris for the most part, but also has a shop in Tokyo and visits Japan regularly.
  4. For me, it would be Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Veyrat, and Oliver Roellinger. Then again, I've had enough of working in high end kitchens. When I'm 40 I'd rather be able to be at home with the family, have time for friends, etc... So nowadays I do mostly pastry. And, if I were to apprentice under a pastry chef in France, it would probably be Sadaharu Aoki...
  5. That's the difference between an average kitchen and a top-end one. To be a high end chef you don't need to be a genius or even all that smart, you just need to work harder than everyone else. And yes, people who work in those kitchens are crazy. I used to be one of them, going all-out 15 hours a day 6 days a week, until I realised if you just work smarter instead of harder you can make just as much money (or more), and actually have a life outside of work. Not to mention, I came to a realisation that the best meals in my life haven't been in high end restaurants, but in simple meals with good ingredients. Nowadays, I'm more than content to work in good, small restaurants, and have time for family and friends. As for what constitutes genius, a true 'genius' in this business is someone who is constantly changing, evolving and creating. Personally, I'd put very few chefs into that category. The only one I can really think of in the current generation of chefs would be Pierre Gagnaire.
  6. It's actually quite surprising how many of the top chefs are self-taught. And very few top chefs have any schooling, most just came up through the trade. Guys like Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Bras, Marc Veyrat, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, etc... - none of them have culinary 'degrees'.
  7. One thing I learned from my mentor, is to never use the phrase, 'good enough'. It indicates that you don't think you can do any better, or are too lazy to try to do any better, and have admitted defeat. It's funny that the French Laundry keeps being mentioned, since I've worked with several people who have worked at the FL... Small world eh?
  8. I buy sous-vide packaged, ready to eat meals all the time (had one last night). You can get ones for camping that you slip into another bag, add some water, and a chemical reaction heats it up. The ones I buy for home you can either heat up in a pot of water, or in the microwave.
  9. Are you trying to be funny? Anyhow, yes, once you establish relationships with suppliers then generally speaking they do phone you.
  10. Yes, I'm under 30. As for my experience, I apprenticed under some of the best chefs in the country, and currently work as a pastry chef (just to round out my skillset) in an award-winning restaurant. I'm not sure what's up with your quote 'using what you have', sounds like sarcasm. A good restaurant can make do with average ingredients no doubt, but if you want to be great, you need to start off with great product. A chef isn't just a cook. A big part of being a chef is sourcing ingredients, finding the best of everything in season. Being able to adapt your cooking to suit the terroir, flowing with the seasons, etc... And then there's managing your staff, managing the business itself, etc... Cooking is the easy part.
  11. Really? Maybe it's because I've worked mostly in smaller, high end restaurants, but I've never heard of mystery baskets for a chef. A very large part of being a chef (in my opinion) is sourcing ingredients, so what good does it do to cook with someone else's ingredients and mise-en-place? Not to mention making the stocks, sauces, and other operations which you really can't do in a short trial shift...
  12. 55 hours a week? 4 days working, 1 day school? Sounds like a pretty good job. When I did my apprenticeship, I was working 70+ hours a week for a weekly rate (which was quite pitiful). Even now, in what I consider a 'cushy' job, I still put in over 50 hours per week (but make alot of money).
  13. Cooking IS a trade.... I don't know about other cooks, but I'm proud to work in the trade. I make good money for my age (comparable to college educated 'professionals'), and get plenty of respect. Not to mention, I get to make great food. If trying to 'raise' the bar means charging outrageous amounts of money for a certificate, then trying to convince everyone they need it, then I think it's something our industry can do without. I'd hate to see the day when the industry becomes any more elitist than it already is...
  14. Sounds like every culinary school. I hate to say it, but the 25K/year students spend on tuition at the CIA would be MUCH better spent on travel, living expenses while doing a stage, books, tools, etc... And like has been said upthread, even with the 'prestigious' CIA degree, students will still be lucky to get $12/hour... It's still just a trade school, and cooking will always be a trade.
  15. I'd say the answer is absolutely not. The article demonstrates this as an empirical matter, simply by giving examples of non-Italian-born chefs who are at the top of the field. Top restaurant kitchens the world over -- not just in New York -- are staffed by immigrants. As a theoretical matter, it strikes me as absurd (that's the nicest word I can think of) to suggest that you have to be from a country to cook that country's cuisine. Yet, such views are certainly widespread, especially with respect to old-world cuisines. ← One thing to consider, is that someone who grows up eating a certain cuisine, will 'understand' it better than a foreigner. Cuisine isn't just about recipes and techniques, they have a character of their own altogether, without understanding the soul of a cuisine how can you really cook it? Anyhow, it's not necessarily nationality that matters, but what culture you grew up in. I grew up eating Ukrainian food every day of my childhood, my mother is Ukrainian. And I can cook it very well. Some chefs I've known have tried to cook Ukrainian style dishes, and they're never the same - technically competent, but lacking that certain 'something extra'... On the other hand, I can't cook Italian cuisine. I don't understand it, I don't like it. Sure, I can make dishes that others might think are tasty, but to me they're still strange and not very good. I do believe that chefs should work with their strengths to produce the best food they personally are capable of. I've seen many chefs go wrong trying to cook food that they don't understand, and they end up putting out a sub-par product. Why cook poor Italian food if you can cook great (fill in blank)? One thing I've also found in my experience in higher end restarants, while alot of the food is good, cooked skillfully, it lacks soul, that something extra...
  16. I've had ph10 for about a year. Out of all the cookbooks I have, savoury and pastry, it's the one I refer to most. Absolutely amazing book. I have it in French (I'm fluent), and I have no idea if it's out in English or not. But it's an incredible book.
  17. Strait up, I know plenty of cooks who are making very good money (and while I wouldn't say I'm making great money, I'm making more than enough to survive, and more than many of my friends in the business world). And I also know plenty of chef/owners who are making big money, retiring early, driving fancy cars, etc.... Feenie has his own issues, people in the industry know whats up. But anyhow, the money is there in the industry. You just need to know how to go get it.
  18. Mikeb19

    Molecular Gastronomy

    This is why we cook some items in 2 or more stages, combining different techniques. In the case of sous-vide cooking, we'll cook it at low temperature first, then take it out of the bag and grill/sear it. Or maybe we'll sear it first, then cook it sous-vide, then take it out and glaze it. And so on. Honestly, I'm not that fond of novelty. I mean, I'll use plenty of modern techniques in my cooking, make use of all my know-how, but I prefer simple, hearty, down to earth dishes. I grew up quite poor, so for me it's important when I do go out and do my own restaurant, that it be accessible. That being said, how do you get into the 'scene'? Own your own restaurant, create hype around yourself, market yourself, and hope your 'creations' are as tasty as they are wierd. Oh yeah, and become a pastry chef. Seriously. Understanding pastry techniques is huge. So much of this 'style' of cuisine borrows from the pastry side of things.
  19. Mikeb19

    Foie Gras: The Topic

    I second that. Because foie gras is high in fat (understatement) it freezes very well. If you have a cryovac machine then package it, and freeze. It freezes well raw, cooked, etc...
  20. My prep cook in Edmonton took up smoking for that very reason, at age 15. Smokers got to go slack off for 5-10 minutes every couple of hours, and non-smokers didn't...so he started lighting up. Me, I'd just spend several minutes "looking for an elusive ingredient" in the walk-in... ← Hah, I remember when I started cooking I was told that if I ever wanted to get a break I'd have to take up smoking. I just said @#$% that, took a break everytime the smokers took one, no one ever said anything. As for what smoking does to your palate, several heavy smokers told me it has indeed affected their palate. Heavy drinking also dulls your palate. I decided not to take up smoking mostly because I'm a bit of a health nut, plus I don't have the money to waste on cigarettes...
  21. Mikeb19


    When you reduce stock, you get a nice syrupy texture because of the gelatin. When you reduce wine, the sugars are what gives you the texture. This is why sweeter wines are better for making a syrup, and why wines with less sugar evaporate into nothing. Also why gelatinous stocks reduce into nice sauces, and meat broths evaporate. I should also add, when making sauces, alot of chefs add palm sugar or honey (in the earlier stages of making it) - for flavour (a touch of sweetness is a good thing), as well as the texture sugar adds to the product. Also, nothing wrong with using a thickener like corn or potato starch, they give a nice texture and consistent result (also when you emulsify butter into the sauce it will thicken up a little). Many restaurants use them as thickeners. And, as Fat Guy said, sometimes it's nice to serve a flavourful broth instead of a thick sauce.
  22. The only time you should sear very cold meat is if you're doing a tataki-style dish (ie. raw meat seared on the outside, then sliced thin and served like sashimi or carpaccio). Otherwise if you want even cooking the meat should be as warm as possible before you sear/cook it. It's funny - he advocated soaking pulses and other dried items before cooking (to speed up the cooking process), but advocates using cold meat (slowing down the cooking process) - and every single chef who has ever been a grill cook knows that for best results you want to use meat that's been warming up next to the grill for at least half an hour... Anyone who's ever tried cooking a piece of meat from frozen knows that cold meats don't cook right. He did get the sous-vide part right - you cook the meat sous-vide first, and then sear it, precisely because you want your meat as warm as possible before it gets seared - putting it in a water bath is the same principle as letting it come to room temperature, just taken further along... I have Harold McGee's book, and while it's somewhat interesting, I never really read it. If you really want to improve your cooking, Hervé This' books are much more useful and interesting - his books that he co-authored with Pierre Gagnaire are also very good reads. Just my professional (chef) opinion...
  23. This is exactly right. If I want to experiment, I do it on my own time. Anything on the menu, is going to be perfect. The guests aren't guinea pigs. Chefs need to remember, we're cooking for other people, not cooking for our egos.
  24. Anyhow, as the Christmas season is over, and now the restaurant is closing in January, I've got time to contemplate stuff... And I was thinking about my career thus far, and some of the cooks I've worked with. One thought that came to mind reading some posts about restaurant experiences and unsuccessful dishes, is that chefs really shouldn't try to cook over their heads... Chefs who don't know about a certain style of cuisine shouldn't attempt to be serving dishes from that style. I remember one chef I worked for when I was an apprentice wanted to have perogies (varenyky) on the menu, but he had never made them (and probably never tasted good ones) before (and he was a super-talented French chef). He went through several unsuccessful attempts, until I just ended up making them myself (being half Ukrainian and VERY familiar with the cuisine). Another is pastries - alot of chefs don't have the proper training, and simply can't execute their ideas. I worked at several restaurants as a pastry chef, and inherited some pretty weak menus. At one, they had no clue how to make iced creams or sorbets (iced creams had bad texture and taste, sorbets were very icey), not to mention they didn't have the proper storage. When I started, after tasting all the stuff I inherited, I promply got rid of everything I could, and started over. And before I sound too cocky, I know very well what my own strengths and weaknesses are, and I cook what I know I can do perfectly, everytime. I don't understand any sort of Spanish food, mediterranean food, and I certainly don't attempt Japanese (I've worked with plenty of Japanese cooks, but still don't quite understand their cuisine or palate). As for my own strengths - I can cook Ukrainian food very well, I have great French/modern style technique, and I cook with the ingredients I know. Just thought I'd share, it's somewhat upsetting when I go to a restaurant and taste a dish that the chef obviously had no business putting on his menu, or see a chef attempting a cuisine he doesn't even understand.
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