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Thomas Keller doing frozen food


jgm
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I find it hard to believe I'm the first to post on this topic, but a search on "Keller" didn't produce it anywhere else, so maybe that is the case. Moderators are welcome to combine topics if I missed something.

A story on Bloomberg.com. indicates Mr. Keller has a few expansion projects in mind, including his own line of frozen food.

Frozen food? Thomas Keller?

It'll be interesting, if nothing else. Are you having as hard a time believing this as I am?

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Aha! Found the link, to an article that appeared in February in The Washington Post about Cuisine Solutions, a company that produces private-label sous vide foods. A subsidiary of the company, called FiveLeaf, has developed dishes created by several celebrity chefs, including Thomas Keller’s Mac & Cheese Lobster with Orzo, and Mark Miller’s Tamarind Barbecue Pork Ribs with Sweet Corn Salsa. At present, they are available only on FiveLeaf’s website (www.fiveleaf.com), but they are expected to be in retail stores soon.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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The thing is plenty of people do not know how it feels to stand on your feet for 15 hours a day and cook your heart out. In the end, a restaurant is a business and a chef becomes an entrepreneur. Selling out? I guess making money is selling out to some but they really don't know how is feels to cook on the line and lead a brigade. I am a cook myself who highly respects TK and I understand that he is simply taking opportunities, that are offered to the seldom few who make it as a chef. I think if a man in a tie offered any chef a 100,000 dollars to help his buisness, that chef would not think twice. People, go stand on your feet for half your life, give up your social life, and earn little money, than talk to me about selling out.

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I am baffled over the recent press over his line of frozen food. He has been involved with that company for years now.

Thank you. I was thinking the same thing. FiveLeaf was available for a while through Omaha Steaks, waaaaaay before Per Se was open.

The Lobster Mac & Cheese was very good and worth the $$. Same stuff as at FL? Nope. But the cook and waiter were cuter :wink:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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He used to sell some frozen chicken stock that was very good, but only sporadically available. I haven't seen it in a few years, but I'd love to buy it again.

I got some about a year ago; it was about the same as Perfect Addition: Better than Swanson canned (or in a box), but no better than what I do at home.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Cuisine Solutions is a company with an impeccable reputation in the chef community. Bruno Goussault, the company's chief scientist, is the world's leading authority on sous-vide cookery. The products being offered by the subsidiary FiveLeaf are the creations of some of the world's top chefs: Antoine Westermann, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, Reine Sammut . . . . These are high-end products made with high-quality ingredients. The sous-vide technology makes this possible.

Getting involved with a first-class venture like FiveLeaf is totally respectable. We're not talking about Rick Bayless or Rachael Ray designing a crummy sandwich for Burger King. We're talking about Thomas Keller doing lobster with orzo for Cuisine Solutions.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I consider my own chicken stock to be high quality. I freeze it.

It isn't that much fun to make, though. More of a chore.

So what is the difference? If someone else would do the work for me, and get their high quality product into the freezer section of my local grocery, I would probably buy it.

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I have no problem with chefs making money. God knows they work their a$$es of to get to the point where they can market their names.

I haven't seen this line of frozen food. If it's good, I'll buy it. It just seems a little strange to me that a perfectionist like Keller would even be interested in something like this. But if he's producing an excellent-quality product, good for him!

To tell you the truth, if I could find high-quality frozen food, I'd buy it. We all know what the mainstream stuff tastes like. It would be wonderful, though, to be able to keep a good meal in the freezer for those times when you're HUNGRY and too tired to do much about it.

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Here's the article from 2002 in the New York Times, where Florence Fabricant tested several of the FiveLeaf products. She concluded:

After preparing 9 of the 19 appetizer and main dishes made by Five Leaf of Alexandria, Va., I can say that the perfectly sliced squid rings and invitingly burnished lamb shank were in no way compromised by having been frozen.

Some of the dishes, especially those prepared by slow cooking or braising, like the delectable baby back ribs by Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe and the lusciously tender beef cheeks in red wine by Reine Sammut, from Provence, were superb.

But other dishes were less successful. Grilled salmon by Gérard Bertholon, head chef at Cuisine Solutions, which owns Five Leaf, was somewhat overcooked and needed a better sauce than the bit of broth that moistened the lentils alongside.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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He used to sell some frozen chicken stock that was very good, but only sporadically available. I haven't seen it in a few years, but I'd love to buy it again.

I got some about a year ago; it was about the same as Perfect Addition: Better than Swanson canned (or in a box), but no better than what I do at home.

I agree that it was not better than home made. It seemed to be along the lines of what you get when you make the chicken stock recipe in the FL Cookbook; a light, "clean-flavored" chicken stock, and if I remember correctly, with no salt. The flavorings were consistent with what is in the recipe and I found it to be a good store-bought chicken stock.

Aside from being the only unsalted chicken stock I've found, it also had a good amount of body to it. I haven't found a lot of canned, boxed, or other commercial stock that didn't lack considerably in the gelatin department. The FL stock, though fairly light in color, was meaty. The unsalted stock could also be reduced far beyond the point at which other stocks would be rendered unusable.

The one I remember buying was in a blue plastic tub, used the FL name along with the clothespin logo, and it was sold in the frozen section at Andronico's.

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Come to think of it, I just finished reading Jacques Pepin's memoirs, and he discusses, with pride, the frozen foods he produced for Howard Johnson's. He even describes serving them, at his home, to another chef, who was astounded to learn that it was a HoJo's frozen entree. Too bad that kind of quality of frozen foods is not available in grocery stores. Maybe Keller will start a trend?

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I don't view it as deciding whether or not to begrudge a chef a way to make some extra $$$ - I'm all for it. It's been going on in France for years, and it's great.

I mean, who amongst us does not have to opt for convenience dinners part of the time, really?

And not only do some of us freeze homemade stock, I've certainly turned out great batches of foods and kicked myself for not having had the brains to make extra and freeze it.

So why shouldn't a great chef "make extra" and freeze it for us to use at home. I realize that it's not the chef's kitchen that's cooking these, but a commercial operation, but if they do it with care and follow the same standards that the chef's kitchen follows, it's a win/win situation.

gallery_11181_3830_35200.jpg

And one of my favorite things in France (during those hours when you don't actually eat) is to admire these things in the supermarket and wish I had cooking facilities in my hotel room!

But I did once live for a few months in Germany, and boy oh boy did we ever drive down to Strasbourg on the weekends and stock up !! I can't find the photo (head-bang.gif) but the firm of William-Saurin used to produce a packaged line of Paul Bocuse foods - they weren't frozen, but were in vacuum sealed pouches inside beautiful boxes that were stocked in the refrigerated cases, and you'd toss the pouch in simmering water and serve yourself a pretty delicious meal; I remember the duck confit with the green peppercorn sauce especially, and that's the photo I can't find. I brought home the empty box and used to have it in my kitchen.

Of course, some dishes don't lend themselves to freezing and reheating, but for the many that do, bring them on! I'm going to order some things from the Five Leaf website right now to have on hand - thanks, FG. I can predict sight-unseen and untasted that they've got to be better than what I can have delivered where I live.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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