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Jon Tseng

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  1. Touche Gary Tom Aikens. Toms Diner. Tom Place. Toms Ripped-Off-From-Grocer-On-Elgin Ready Meals. Toms Traiteur Concession in Selfridges (which doesn't seem to be Toms branded anymore?). My basic contention is one man simply can't stretch so far. It can be done (as Gordon Ramsay has shown) if you have an extensive, trusted and well established back up team. I'm not convinced TA is the kind of guy to run that sort of show. Definite shades of J-CN Didn't know he had private backing though. That may help although I'd bet he's taken on some cheap debt funding at some point over last two years... We shall see. J
  2. Agreed. Interesting how much emphasis Michel Roux places of presentation in his comments. I assume thats one difference between amateur and pro. Amateurs we want it to be edible and (preferably) delicious. Pros want it to be delicious and look good to boot.
  3. The classic definition was someone who creates one truly original dish in their lifetime. Believe me its harder than you think. More prosaicly I would say someone who has the vision to reshape the industry. Historically that would be in terms of introducing a new paradigm or structure. It's not enough to create great dishes or a great restaurant. A culinary genius reshapes the entire landscape. Off the top of my head Careme, Escoffier, probably Point, Bocuse, Alice Waters, possibly Senderens, possibly Robuchon, Adria. J
  4. Three words: Jean-Christophe Novelli.
  5. Nope Although it may be customary to take a half day on Xmas eve, depending on your employer.
  6. Hmmm well the latest red guide I have to hand is a Switzerland 06. The notes say they define a prix fixe menu as a meal composed of a main dish, an entrée and a desert not served on the weekend and jours feries (whatever they are). Basically the standard mich definition doesn't account for a degustation. I suppose it sort of make snse given he majority of establishments lists will be non starred and probly not doing tasting menus. Plus as we all know they can be a bit slow to catch on with changed trends sometimes ;-) J
  7. plus there's that William Curley bloke - he's a jock. And thankfully his pudding bar is just round the corner from my Church AND opens Sundays! Shame he doesn't do mini macaroons I'm sure they'd be really good (hint hint). J
  8. Check the website again mate - you're looking at the degustation. Basic three course alc lists at 45 / 90, which i assume has bumped up from 40 / 85 when they last filled in the mich form mid07. As I said before I think mich tend to put down the basic menu price ex booze and doodads i.e. The core three course alc. Although arguably they should also add a third numb for the pricier degustation. J
  9. let's play the game of "If Gregg was a vegetable, what sort of vegetable would he be?" ← I'd rather not actually, because I think there's a line between criticising someone's faults (which I am very happy to do) and personal abuse. Particularly in a public forum. Just my point of view... J
  10. interestingly have just notice the Chef patissier at helene darroze in London is a Scottish chap by the name of kirk whittle. Not a local / hotel hire. It looks like he's also done two years as chef patissier at the mothership in Paris. That's quite impressive. Anyone else seen a Brit who's held down a ** pastry gig in Paris before? J
  11. Bear in mind original masterchef had different conditions. Contestants chose their own dishes and practiced them to buggery ahead of the event. That's very very different from being chucked an ingredient box and being told to slap together two plats in fifty minutes. A different analogy would be to say it's like doing two back to back episodes of ready steady cook, sans the inane chatter. IMHO the contestants are performing at or slightly above that level. (take that as you will depending on your view of RSC cast, although I would point out that brian turner was a judge at the bocuse d'or last year). J
  12. I think it started off as his version of the grammercy tavern, but after a year or so time out started sticking it into the hotels and haute cuisine section, which felt about right.
  13. I assume thats the set lunch/dinner prices. Agree they sound five or ten notes light (website lists it as 45/90). Am going 2moro for supper so can check! But bear in mind the guide was published jan08 so I'd assume the info is based on forms filled in by the restos what mid07 at the latest? that would probably account for the lag. I don't think Michelin guide lists an "all in" price. More often the menu price. J
  14. My issue it not necessarily that these are bad cookbooks for what they are (effectively culinary telephone directories). Simply that the way in which Phaidon and/or Sauce Communications pitched them (and the uk press joined in with) was at best lazy and disingenuous and at worst just incorrect.
  15. Is riva nr barnes bridge still any kop? I seem to remember fay maschler used to claim it was here favourite restaurant back in the day... To be brutally honest, however London simply doesn't have a great selection of Italian at either the high end or the upper mid. Or the mid to be honest! Its our fault really, the British dining public don't have much of an appreciation of Italian beyond spag bol. The end result is it manifests itself in a) lack of numbers of places worth mentioning and b) lack of regional diversification - I can hardly name a single Italian restaurant which genuinely reflects a particular regional cuisine. My advice would be to expand your young victim's horizons rather than pandering to his predilections. London's particular strengths are ingredient-driven "modern british" cuisine (although I admit I struggle to distinguish it sometimes from "modern aussie" or "bistro moderne french"), ethnic restaurants (particularly Indian and Chinese dim sum, although not chinese evening food), and mid-upper haute French (by that I mean * and ** level). The acid test for any tourist is to go for something that you can't get done better back home. I suspect Italian can be done better stateside. J
  16. OK having stewed over a few episodes I still think its a very good show. I'm less down on the editing than I was at first. Its a bit heavy handed (erm, are they going to tell us EVERY DAY that michel roux has had two michelin stars since 1991??? Presumably they're not going to mention that was only because they knocked one off when Albert pere retired...) but not as disasterous as I've seen from Shine's previous efforts. I'm even more down on Greg Wallace however. Having Michel Roux alongside just shows up how out of his depth the guy is. Its embarassing. Today there was some bizarre suggestion that a thinly sliced strip of courgette somehow contains a deluge of juice which rinses out the flavour of a dover sole. Embarassing, just embarassing. What annoys me is that I need to be able to trust the judgement of the judges. Michel Roux is a case in point. The stuff he says is fascinating, precise and adds enormously to the show (love the boggle eyed look he uses to make a point too). Whenever Greg Wallace opens his mouth he is either a) stating the blindingly obvious (or repeating what Michel Roux has just pointed out) or b) saying something that's just wrong. What I want from an expert if for them to both inform (say something I didn't know) and provide insight (point out something I wouldn't have realised otherwised). Sure I've probably got higher expectatations than the target audience, but I simply make the observation that Roux provides both, Wallace provides neither. Other than that I think the format is excellent. Simple no frills - and definitely a challenge. Two dishes in fifty minutes sounds a tough ask; I assume they get prep time before that. I like the classics dish too (good way to seperate men from the boys - one thing you notice is that a lot of the high profile competitions like Roux Scholar and Ramsay Scholar have a strong classical dish component. Gives the contestants nowhere to hide). As to contestants it is a shame they don't say where they've cooked - I think there'll be a big variation. It looks like the net is spread fairly wide from central london commis to people from random provincial restaurants (not necessarily fine dining - think slightly above the level of restos which feature on Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares?). I suspect the level of competition once we get to the final will be similar to student chef of the year at the Cateys? One misconception I have spotted is that most of the contestants seem to conflate getting a Michelin star with being a good chef. For most of them having a michelin star seems to be an end in itself (I suspect the editor is stressing this bit it their usual heavy-handed way to add to the macho "I want to be the best of the best" glamour). The aim should be to cook delicious food to the best of their ability. In theory the stars will follow. Every young chef should remember Pierre Koffmanns dictum "having three stars doesn't make me a three star chef. It simply gives me the right to be a three star chef" (or words to that effect). I actually think there's a wealth of learning aspiring chefs could learn from the show. Follow it with a keen eye and you see a lot of basic mistakes (unbalanced proportions, not playing to the strengths of the ingredients, excessive garnishes, mixing and matching ingredients from different cuisines) which scream out at you from the sofa, but you probably miss in the heat of competition. Actually its similar to the faults which a lot of the victims on Kitchen Nightmares exhibit (I'm thinking especially of Loic Lefebre the gazillion thinks on a plate wannabe haute pourcel alumnus from a couple of series back). Just Michel Roux points out the faults with surgical precision and a damn sight less unecessary personal abuse. Despite my misgivings a net positive though. Fascinating viewing. More please, especially from Mr Roux. J PS One other observation - its interesting the reverance the contestants have for Mr Roux who is obviously far far less well known outside the trade than Mr Ramsay. When Gordon Ramsay slams someone on Kitchen Nightmares the overall emotion you get from the victims is fear and anger (admittedly the format doesn't help). When Michel Roux puts his hatchet in the response of appreciation, respect and a willingness to learn. A chef's chef, non?
  17. Won't get a third star if it sticks to same menu. Perfect execution can only get you so far. Chef needs a distinctive voice to win a third star. One rule of thumb is if you were served a dish from a *** blind you should be able to figure out (or have a pretty good idea) where the chef is from. Which high end restos in London could you say that of? Hibiscus, Sketch, Tom Aikens? Definitely not Petrus in its current incarnation. Marcus Wareings not stupid, I'm sure he appreciates this. Which is why I'm surprised they are saying they're sticking to the same menu. J
  18. +1 for lunch at the capital Interesting - didn't know the Boxwood had re-opened (actually did it close for refurb? I thought it did). If you do still go the veal and foie gras burger is a signature. It's actually a bit underpowered for my taste (foie gras and veal both fairly smooth bland fatty meats - you know what I mean - needs something more robust to give it a kick). J
  19. I thought the first eps was quite good. Its basically your common garden professional culinary competition, just filmed. I haven't seen Michel Roux on telly before. He's quite good (weird mid-channel accent though) - very perceptive comments, clearly garners respect from his victims. He also painfully exposes greg wallaces limitations when you put them side by side ("well conceived dish, marginally undercooked potato, slight too sweet sauce means the final dish is not balanced" vs. "CHOMP. Mmm. Good mousse. I LIKE IT."). I still think the editor of the series should be shot. The whole things put together in a clod-handed lets-create-some-fake-dramatic-tension-with-some-pre-scripted-asides manner. It's like they've just got out of documentary school and been given their first camera. If Karen Ross is reading PLEASE sort this out - it's embarassing and makes Shine look like a bunch of pillocks. J
  20. palhaidon have been making a little push into cookbooks for a while. I know them mainly as an art books publisher but over the last year and a bit i've seen silver spoon, 1080 recipes, pork and sons and (I thinks it's phaidon) terrine. All of the books are hefty coffee table tomes beautifully presenter, as you'd expect then their background. They also seemto have been commissioned by an editor who knows nothig about cookbooks. As people have mentioned above 1080 is full of bare bones recipes which would have looked datedly inaccessiblr ten years ago, let alone today. The silev spoon is very much along the same lines. They are like escoffiers cookbooks - classic once but pretty inadequete for the modern kitchen. Pork and sons is another volume which is beautifully presents but disappointingly vacuous (I think I've written abt it on it's own thread). The recipes again are poorly written and frustratingly vague. My overall feeling is that phaidons forays into cookbooks are a triumph of form over content. I get the feeling the editor has picked their ttlsnon reputation without bothering to read (le alone cook) from them. Or maybe the rights were just going cheap. I was not surprised out these books even have their own prs in the uk (www.saucecommunications.com) in the uk. As I said - form over content. Avoid. J
  21. Actually I'd be surprised if they were preparing chips from scratch at a pub level operation. Very unusual to do that (stop a minute and think how much sodding time and effort it would take to peel and chip that many spuds). If you were a high end show doing triple cooked chips in extra virgin goose fat perhaps, but not in a pub context. Too high volumes. J
  22. Amazon lists a new translated edition of Points "Ma Gastronomie" coming out in the fall. Not quite old school hotel haute, but almost of the era. Search under "Fernand Point". You also might want to check out the Robert Laffont editions of 1970s French cheffy cookbooks. They are hardcover books with distinctive white covers. They run through the gamut of many of the leading 1970s *** chefs complete with rather tacky colour plates of the dishes. Also try Masterpieces of French Cuisine (Amunategui). Again lots of 1960s and 70s dishes; heavily sauced; lots of doodads. J
  23. Yes, I and II are out in English (best place to order them probably amazon.com international shipping, depending on what the USD/NZD fx rate is doing at the time). No I was actually reissued in a compact (and much less pricy) hardcover last year and is highly recommended. As to whether the rest get rolled out, I'd be surprised (limited market an all that). And if they did it would take years. I'd just get the French versions if I were you. There is also a "compact" paperback version of Vol I in French. All the content just really shrunk down. Great for posing with on the bus, but probably not that practical in the kichen. J
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