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Adam Chef

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  1. Hi Baron, At last we have finally agreed on something!!!!! Funny thing is I have just been in Italy (Venice, Padova and Trieste) for the past few days and visited a supplier in Trieste who had a warehouse full of additives from Sosa. He can't sell any of them anymore :-( I also spent the last 3 days eating their "Traditional food" and let's just say improvement wouldn't be a bad thing in many of the places. Regards from Croatia,
  2. If it wasn't true it would be a funny story to tell your friends.............. But unfortunately it's true and ignorance seems to be spreading as we saw similar comments made by Santi Santamaria here in Spain 2 years ago when he said Ferran was poisoning people with his food. Back then it was proven to be a publicity stunt to sell more copies of his book he launched days later and I am sure this one will also be revealed for the joke that it is with absolutely no basis of truth. Let's hope that "Uncommon sense" becomes "Common Sense" Again, as the use of these ingredients have been approved by the EU and every other food agency around the world. Chances are that they are safe to use!
  3. On the 25th of February the site “Guia de la Buena Mesa” were the first to write about the absurd situation in Italy with the signing of new legislation banning the use of Food additives in the kitchen, this is also going to extend to the use of Liquid Nitrogen as it is a “gaseous substances” and considered dangerous even though 78% of earths atmosphere is actually Nitrogen in it’s gas form! The title of the article says more than 1000 of my words “The Italian Taliban”! The article is as below: http://www.guiadelabuenamesa.es/?p=1359&language=es As you know I am normally pretty opinionated about most things, especially when it comes to ignorance towards food. So after 1 month of biting my tongue and listening to all the facts I am now ready to give my 2 cents worth………………………….. It all started in the youtube link below, this is when Italian Ministry of Health’s secretary Francesca Martini signed the new legislation banning the use of pretty much all food additives in professional kitchens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cy6HeX0ZIA&feature=player_embedded This less than qualified new Health minister in Berlusconis party does not have the qualification nor the intellect to deem the use of additives as dangerous, she should stick to commenting about things she does know about like this article (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/italian-tv-chef-roasted-for-praising-joy-of-eating-cats_100321564.html) Condemning the eating of cats by a famous TV Chef! Ok, so now to the serious part of this story……….. Let’s have a look at the legitimacy of their claims. What makes Agar Agar any more or less of a “Powdered” food additive than the flour the Italians have been using for generations to make pasta? You can also make a pasta from the Agar Agar. The Flour is taken from the milling of wheat and the Agar Agar is extracted from the red Seaweed Gelidium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelidium), but the law still suggests you can eat the red seaweed in it’s natural state so it is not a problem with the product but merely the final result. What about if we look at Pectin Powder v’s Gelatine leaves? By the true definition of this new law you cannot use pectin which comes from the cell walls of certain fruits (Citrus being the primary source) but you can use Gelatin which is being taken from the hoofs and cartilage of Animals! Which one sounds hypothetically more natural and “Safe”? In actual fact they are both 100% safe and have been used for a very long time yet one is banned under this new law and the other isn’t. I can give you thousands of examples of why this does not make sense, but I won’t as I am sure you are all smart enough to smell an ulterior motive on the behalf of the Italian government. But before we get to this let’s discuss the biggest hole in their story! This rule only applies to restaurants and not the Production industry! If this was for health reasons how is this possible? Imagine that the same Sodium Alginate and Calcium that you are not allowed to use in Kitchens you are allowed to consume when eating your Burger king Onion rings or your McDonalds Apple pie (which also are not very Italian restaurants, perhaps all non Italian restaurants will be banned next?)! Would this have anything to do with the power of the Production industry and the amount of revenue they bring in from Taxes as opposed to that of restaurants? Think about the level of stupidity it takes to think that any Nitrogen gas remains in food once it’s been frozen, considering liquid Nitrogen (-190 +/- degrees Celsius depending on your altitude) boils at room temperature and changes back to a gas. Then add the fact that we are already breathing 78% Nitrogen all day long……………. It doesn’t make sense! So I guess we can rule this one out as ridiculous! This government stinks of desperation in an attempt to keep the Italian cuisine traditional at the expense of progression. There will always be those Chefs who will continue to cook traditional food as this is where their roots are, but there also has to be those pushing the boundaries and creating the next generation of what will one day be traditional or else food will be stuck in a virtual time warp. Whats next? Are we going to start burning Creative Chefs at the steak like the treatment of witches in distant times? How can this backward government think the people are that stupid? Why is it not possible for traditional Italian Cuisine and New Cuisine to co-exist harmoniously? Take my friend Carlo Cracco as a great example. Carlo has a cuisine which is deeply rooted in tradition yet he utilizes all the tools at his disposal with the introduction of new techniques into his cuisine. Is not the role and responsibility of every Chef to use every tool, technique and ingredient at his disposal to help interpret his vision of food? So if we remove one part of this how can we be free to express? From the reports I am being told by my friends in Italy, the police are entering kitchens and seizing any powdered products and giving the owners nasty fines. This is a very desperate and pathetic attempt to retain control (Communist style) of what is known as an iconic cuisine of the world. Hopefully the Italian Government will realize the error of their ways before it’s too late or else the world of cuisine will leave your country back in the dark ages at the expense of your great Chefs and the enjoyment of the consumer.
  4. Dear Lesliec, Well said (And in true kiwi style, makes me miss home (Australia)). :-)
  5. I think the comment about being politician like in my response sounded a little like a Compliment in disguise Baron, could it be that you are showing your soft side? No, false alarm, it is just your same dry humor coming through. Your point about it not being possible to serve perfection nearly all of the time is still incorrect according to the way I set my dishes. Yes I work in a Lab creating and perfecting all day long (but I do also serve media and other people every week who taste what's new) but remember Up until 2 years ago I was in my restaurants all over the world and I still managed to achieve the same level of perfection due to the precision of the recipes. The chaotic crazy kitchens of before are becoming less and less as with the adoption of some of these new theories Chefs are realizing it doesn't have to be like that, in Chaos things get missed and done differently then they were intended. Now we are able to run the meal of a guest like a Swiss watch, with everyone knowing their function and how to do it on exact timing. Yes it may cost a little more in the development, but this will be made back in the saving you will make from having a consistent product that is cooked or prepared right EVERY TIME. This way the 30 guests will never be Jeopardized and the Chef can keep his focus on the whole room. Remember the computer you are using right now was once dismissed as an unneeded luxury by those loyal to the typewriter, now we could not live without it. Nostalgia is a great thing to reflect upon but isn't a practicle tool for the kitchens of 2010. Always a pleasure,
  6. Thanks Mallet, I am currently in Croatia, This trip I have the aim to make contact with some local government officials to offer some free advice on the situation and see if we can start this project together. I will be sure to keep you up to date on my progress (or lack there of). Kind Regards from Croatia
  7. Dear Martin, Thanks for your comments, I agree with it in Principle.................. As much as baby fish are considered Less valuable, what about the eventual situation where not enough of these babies were allowed to reach maturity and therefor weren't able to lay their eggs? I use Croatia as one example of many, they are just netting everything that moves and not doing any kind of a measure to put back the ones which are too young. The adults are also being taken but they are sold to a country where they get more money and keeping the young ones to be used as a stock or a soup. There are no catch or size limits in place, or at least being respected. I have started a consulting project in one of the seaside towns of Croatia where I am targeting the people and the restaurants to try and overcome this bad practice, I will be there 1 week per month. Hi LindaK, Great article! I have actually posted it on my website to try and raise a little more awareness. I am going to be opening a restaurant in NYC this year and I will certainly be using the sustainable Tuna as opposed to the Wild. Hi Florida, Sad but probably going to be true! The amount of Chefs and suppliers saying "If I don't sell it then someone else will and make more money" or "If .......... Is still selling it then why shouldn't I". Japan being the biggest consumer in the world makes other countries think "well if they are doing it then why shouldn't we?". This is a very tough mentality to break as peoples livelihoods depend on it and everyone wants to make their money before the species goes extinct. Good conversation.
  8. Hi Mikeb19, Brianemone and nickrey, Not too much else to say then.......... Agree, Agree and Totally agree, But it is always fun to discuss, I love to see and try to understand the perspective of others. Food is such a broad topic! :-)
  9. First let me respond to my friend Baron, I would love to answer your thoughts in the order which you have brought them up as I would hate to miss one! 1. The serving on fabricated caviar was only a dish when it was a new technique, now it is not new nor is it interesting to serve a spoon full of caviar. When a technique is new you cannot confuse the guest too much by complicating the plate and giving them too much to think about as you will not have the required impact, what follows the discovery of a new technique is the Chefs who will incorporate these techniques into dishes they have created and not simply displaying the fabricated Caviar and calling that their dish. 2. When common decency tells you that it is ok to use. Chefs work for a very long time to create and perfect techniques, I can tell you there have been some that have taken me as long as years to perfect and start to use, when I hear of this being used days or weeks later I get angry as I know how much effort went into it, then some other Chef will take it and claim it as their own discovery. It is not the credit myself or others want, it is merely being given the time to explore all the possibilities of that technique before another comes and beats you to it on your technique (sounds petty, but you would think the same if you were working on something for a long time and someone started claiming it as theirs). 3. This one is very hard to answer as there is not enough space............. It is a very common thing. I even know of certain Chefs who have demonstrated techniques that belong to others in conferences before the other Chef has even used it. 4. It is a slight resemblance but who may of been inspired by who is the question. If you remember I mentioned that it was when I was coaching the Bocuse d'Or team from Spain....... Bocuse d'Or finals were back in January 2009 (which given your love of classic cuisine I am sure you already knew), the sandwich in question was published on July 14 2009! I had previously published a story about this Rubiks cube back in January of 2009 but I had a major failure on my site and lost all the data in April of 2009. The date on the picture is as follows: "Friday, November 21, 2008, 4:04:38 PM". I do what I do and I do it how I do it because I can almost Guarantee with 100% certainty that it will be the same every time! When dining in a restaurant the most important thing is consistency. If you are an average Chef who cooks Average food people will have expectations of what they are going to get, if one day you decide to put in a lot more effort and produce some amazing dishes and the next day you cant be bothered and produce the same average food then you will confuse the guest. A great restaurant is only as good as it's worst dish on it's worst day, to be great on one day is easy! So I am sorry but your overcooked poached fish story would not be acceptable in my restaurant as the guest is not paying for your mistakes, nor are they paying for your nostalgia which leads to their below standards meal. Doing what we are now doing with food gives you another option to the Vending machine if you want close to perfect food every time! It is about understanding food and it's strengths and limitations, when we have perfected something there are always so many measurable limits that can be observed every time (Time in seconds, Temperature in 0.1 of a degree, Measurements in MM, weight in 0.01 of a G). What I try to remember is the guest is coming to the restaurant on the reputation of the Chef and his food, they are not interested in having an interpretation of how the line Chef thinks it should taste. I have managed kitchens of up to 36 Chefs, imagine having 36 Chefs from 11 different countries interpret your meal! Testing can be done in your day to day cooking, it is about finding a better way to do it until you believe it is perfect for what you want to do with it, then it is about competently managing the process to ensure it can be replicated every time. I do this in my home even when I am cooking dinner every night, so as you can see you don't have to have a lab but you do need a desire for perfection. Always a pleasure,
  10. Mikeb, Bravo! Very well said! And I totally agree! JK1002, You have just demonstrated perfectly in your first paragraph everything that is bad with people who take a technique they don't understand and call it a dish. Fabricated caviar was only a dish on it's own when it was a new technique which nobody knew about, today it is almost a "Normal" kitchen technique. Today it is perfectly fine to use this as a part of a balanced dish as you did in the Tartar, it is now a hidden technique used to achieve an effect. I have never had a problem with people using existing techniques as everyone cannot create new techniques for every dish in their menu, but I think it is important to acknowledge the creator instead of claiming it as one of your own. I also agree that mimic is the best form of flattery except in the case when people come to your restaurant and claim you are the one mimicking another who has taken from you. Plus there have been many famous cases here in Spain of some high profile Chefs publishing and/or demonstrating in conferences the work of other high profile Chefs. The article in NBC was not totally correct, I will still be opening in NYC but I just have been delayed. I now have an incredible location which I will officially announce very soon. Thank for your comments,
  11. Dear Mike, I agree with you regarding the impact of Aquaculture on the environment, but I believe long term it could be the sustainable answer if they clean up the industry and stop with the bad practices. Regarding the impact of farming, a great example should be taken from my friend Dan Barber who has an amazing model for how farming should be done with as little impact as possible. What he is doing should be the future of sustainable farming! Dear CDRFloppingham, I apologize if my words come across as "Preachy" but in my defense I did mention that I was going to have a Biased opinion which makes it a little hard to be totally objective. As a Chef my number 1 priority is to find the best products available, but in this day and age I must also factor in it's environmental impact as well. I love food pretty much more than life itself, so to say no to a piece of Bluefin Tuna belly is an incredibly hard thing to do, as having tasted it I know it is one of the best things I have ever tasted. But as I live in Spain and I see bluefin tuna on so many menus and it is available at pretty much every market I am starting to get a little tired of the "It's not my problem, let someone else worry about it" kind of attitude. As the Blue fin pass through Gibraltar every year to breed in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean they are being caught on there way in or out which is stopping the replenishing of the stocks. Once again, I am sorry that you got the wrong impression from what I was saying as it was not the intention. Thanks for you comments,
  12. I love this discussion, and it is very curious to see the path it has taken................ Thanks for your comments guys (even you Baron :-), this is what cooking is all about! Being able to discuss these topics openly and thus gain a little more insight through the perspective of others. Ciao
  13. Dear Daniel Blue, Thanks for your comment, I can see how you would get that impression................. The only baby fish I use come from Aquaculture farms and are bred to be eaten young. As I clearly mentioned in what I wrote I am promoting sustainability, aquaculture is at the forefront of this movement as the fish are bred in controlled conditions then transfered to their sea cages where they eat and grow as a normal fish would in the same ocean water where they come from. You will never see on any of my menus a wild baby fish. But I understand how you would think that and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to explain. Hey Tri2Cook, Thanks for your comment, I fully agree with you that it is the responsibility of the Chefs and also the end user being the Guest who is requesting these items. I also feel for the fish supplier and also the fisherman, I have many of them as friends and I know how tough they do it. The state of the worlds oceans is a little bit like the topic of global warming, many say it is just a way to panic the people without any scientific basis, but like the global warming issue it is a bit hard to refute the fact that fishermen are finding it harder and harder to locate the same amounts of fish as before. Another thing I can't stand is the indiscriminate catching of anything living with the use of large nets as large as football fields that drain the ocean of all of it's life, these nets are catching and killing anything that is in the area without any skill on the part of the fisherman. This is why you see boxes of mixed fish all way undersized being sold as fish to make soups out of as there is such a mix. These nets are killing all sorts of other creatures which never get eaten like: Seals, Sharks, Dolphins, Whales, etc. As well as destroying coral reefs and other animals habitats. Anyway, thats enough for a Sunday! Thanks for your comments
  14. When will some people learn? This is the question I am constantly asking myself………………………….. We all know the problems we are facing in the world with some of the oceans and rivers being close to fished out, but why does it take so long to really sink in to some peoples heads? You hear about these kinds of problems everyday in the food industry but it is only the very famous problems that are being noticed and you have some Chefs who are even selling and promoting their restaurants on the fact that they don’t use these products. Being an Australian Chef and also a very enthusiastic diver I have a love for nature and a strong will to try and disturb it as little as possible, so I speak with a little bit of biased passion on this topic. I think anyone who is still selling Blue Fin Tuna on their menus is an idiot and they deserve to have their names put on a list like sex offenders. This is a greedy mentality that will see our Children suffer when they will never be able to experience the pleasures that our generation have gorged ourself on until certain species are now becoming extinct. One of the latest estimates I have heard about the blue fin is that they could be extinct in the next 5 years………………………. The governments around the world are trying to cut catch limits in most developed countries and the fishermen are protesting and crying poor. They are worried about their profits and not at all about the state of the oceans they have raped over the years. The E.U. were faced with a decision a few months ago to put a total ban on the fishing of Blue Fin tuna, unfortunately they weakened under pressure and ruled against it after increasing backlash, even though it was almost a sure thing to get passed. Anyway this story isn’t about Blue fin tuna, it is about everything else that is suffering at the same time…………….. What happens if you continue taking baby animals from the wild, be it Fish, Shellfish, Game, etc? Well it seems like a pretty easy answer, but obviously not! If the animals have not yet reached an age of maturity where they can breed then they will not reproduce before they are caught and killed. If all the babies are taken and they can’t reproduce then the species will eventually dwindle in numbers and eventually go extinct. Seems like simple maths No? Well why can we still see this all over the world? My job takes me all over the world and every time I travel I always visit local markets, predominantly in developing countries you see vendors selling produce which clearly hasn’t been regulated by size limits. I feel it is my right and obligation to ask them why are they selling these small animals so small? I almost always get the same response, “If I do not sell them someone else will and I will go out of business”. Well I guess they are right in theory, but this should be why we have governments to regulate these things. This story is coming after my last trip to Croatia where I was in many fish markets that actually resembled child care for dead fish. The monk fish in the picture above are no bigger than 15 to 20cm, and to tell you the truth would be a waste to time and effort as the meat in the tail would be only 40 or 50g. Every vendor had the same types of fish and all the same size, where are all the big fish? So now spare a thought for these live langoustines, they were no more than 5-8cm each! Every vendor had many crates of these little babies. They are taking them from a place where the fresh water coming from Krka National park meets the Adriatic sea, how many more years are they going to be able to do this before there are no more left. Not to mention the fact that langoustines this small would not provide any joy to eat as they would be so much effort to get 2 or 3g of flesh per one. But when asked “Why do you sell them so small?” I got the same response “If I don’t sell them someone else will”. I am not a member of greenpeace nor am I an animal activist. I am speaking purely on the level of a Chef, Food lover and someone who respects the balance of nature (If one species goes extinct them the rest of the food chain will suffer). Chefs, try to show a little restraint when choosing what you want to put on your menus. There are so many sustainable ingredients at our disposal, there is no need in the world to use endangered or undersized items.
  15. Thank you once again for your wise insight Baron, As much as I appreciate your approval or disapproval in any techniques I may or may not use I really do not need it. As I mentioned in my previous comment, I love traditional cuisine and as such I really like what you do as I will always respect classic technique, because at the end of the day all new cuisine is always created on the back of traditional techniques. Creating new techniques and dishes without taking into consideration what has been done before would be like a body without bones. My problem has never been people using any techniques to make their menus, but instead the use of purely new techniques that they do not understand and constructing a menu of things just for show. This is happening all over the world as I am travelling every month and it is disheartening to eat in the "Best restaurant in the city" and finding the same replicas in every place (but perhaps with the addition or subtraction of an ingredient). I want to eat in restaurants to see food through different Chef's eyes and see how they interpret their vision, if I wanted to eat dishes which they have copied from the internet or the latest cook book I would rather stay at home. Chefs who cook true classic cuisine are true craftsmen and as mentioned before I have a great deal of admiration for them. Food is very subjective, but at the end of the day what you serve to people still has to have the basic concepts and satisfaction of a meal, if we can add discovery and enjoyment to this then we will give the guest an experience to remember. * I also have a wall of cookbooks numbering in excess of 1000 (classic cookery, Nouvelle cuisine, Progressive Cuisine, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, theoretical, production industry handbooks, Psychology, design, Chemistry, I even have the Shrek Cookbook), But I choose to use these to understand the different styles which different Chefs have so I can see the world through their eyes when I open their books. Never to inspire dishes nor copy anything.
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