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docsconz

Starchefs International Chefs Congress 2008

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The first workshop I made it to was Enrique Olvera's on "Mexican Street Food: from Common to Exquisite." This was in essence a more in depth approach to his main presentation focusing on nopales and carnitas and their transformations to an haute cuisine environment.

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Pineapples in a fry pan.

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Working with a jalapeno.

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Pork in the bag for sous vide.

Unfortunately, I missed the final dishes.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A tasting menu like Grant's is similar to reading a good book. A lot of research goes into it. There is a story line and twists along the way. Once finished one has possibly gained some knowledge and sometimes wants to go out and learn more.

It is hard to respect a chef who minimizes such an effort by a fellow chef.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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For another interesting take on the White/Bourdain/Ruhlman/Achatz controversy at the ICC from someone who was at both presentations see the blog Chadzilla.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I next took a quick peak at "The Zen of Modern Pastry: Aesthetics, Texture and Flavor" with Uyen Nguyen of Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas.

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The emphasis of the workshop was in using various garnishes such as fruit to embellish and finish plating a dish of which the principle elements must remain the focus.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I couldn't pass up a visit to catch Audrey Saunders in action, though I would have loved to spend more time there learning from her about her favorite alcohol, "Gin...The Other White Meat"

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Her workshop included a blind tasting of four gins as well as discussions of their various styles and uses.

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She compared the relative merits of gin to vodka in cocktails.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Keep the posts coming doc! I really appreciate the coverage.

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Keep the posts coming doc!  I really appreciate the coverage.

Indeed!


2317/5000

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Jordi Butron - The New Language of Restaurant Pastry

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Jordi Butron of the Sweet and Savory restaurant, Espai Sucre in Barcelona talked about the current infancy of restaurant related pastry. His research has determined that prior to the mid 1980'2 restaurant pastry existed on carts while savory dishes were plated.

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The ant is the symbol of Espai Sucre.

Butron talked about the differences between restaurant and store pastry, a subject about which he considers himself "obsessed." His restaurant has been open approximately nine years.

Butron's differences between restaurant {rp) and store pastry (sp):

  • 1 - the main difference is that in rp the palate of flavors that you can use is infinitely greater. Butron didn't know about the pastry chefs in the US but in Europe sp'sl seem to be more timid. According to Butron in a restaurant the first priority is flavor. Why flavor? He emphasized flavor, because in store pastries there are some decorative elements that make sense in that setting, but less so in a restaurant setting.
    2 - Sugars monopoly has ended. "Enough of abusing the levels of sweetness," he said. Sugar is in essence a flavor enhancer, but if used excessively it takes over the palate. Sugar has to play a part in rp but it should be used in combination with the other 5 key taste sensations.
    3 - "Holy tradition" - Butron, stated "obviously in the store they still employ old traditions and in restaurants it seems that they flaut those a little bit, but that is not the case at espaisucre. where they start all courses from scratch." He said, they teach the basics to the new students, then progress until they reach the epitome of modern technology. He sees year after year many students come and eager to start experimenting with the new without knowing about the old, and he believes that is a mistake. Tradition has to be respected, but not just imitated. According to Butron, "we must take from tradition that which is good and appropriate for our courses."
    4 - Plating. There is usually some talk about flavor, but a lot about technique, but there is very little talk about plating. Butron said, "I’ve never seen a book that includes as part of its content a section that goes in depth about plating, and I wonder if you all think about that when you are plating a dish, or are you just thinking that it is a good-looking, pretty dish." He added, "why is plating important to me? Because the final flavor will be a factor of how i organize the elements on the plate. I started off by saying that flavor is #1 but plating as it pertains to flavor also has to be a priority. It is a variable that manipulates flavor. "
    5 - The immediacy - RP's can make things to order and put them on the plate, which will offer greater freedom. SP's do not always have great access to such things. Butron said, "don’t let me tell you that rp is superior to that in a store, bc thats not what I mean. I am aware that the mother of rp is sp, but what i try to do is glean from sp and apply it to rp. Obviously in a store you lack the sense that things are being done to order."
    6 - The notable interplay that exists between the savory kitchen and pastry - Butron said, "I remember working as a pastry chef in a restaurant and as I was trying out different ice creams and things, the chef came by to see what I was working on. I was making something that he might like, and he tried it and took it to use in one of his savory dishes." Some of the things that have reinvigorated pastry have found their way into savory cooking.
    7 - The fact that an entire discourse has been elaborated beneath a pastry dish, the dish becomes more complex.

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to be continued...


Edited by docsconz (log)

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Keep the posts coming doc!  I really appreciate the coverage.

Indeed!

Thanks, Renn & Ted. I'm sorry for the lapse, but I have spent the last few days getting new content and before that I have been quite busy at work. :wink: I will try to get back on track soon. :smile:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Jordi Butron continued...

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Butron continued his presentation stating, "when trying to come up with a dessert in Espai Sucre we always follow a methodology because i have found that my students like it when i present something that is very orderly."

Step 1 of 3: choose ingredients. Before choosing ingredients, one must already have a broad knowledge of what’s available, and a sort of flavor library stored through tasting and archiving. It is built by eating at places, tasting things, going to schools and is something that must be constantly active. To Butron it is important "to take into account that the ingredients are alive, and not monochromatic" and that "they have degrees and subtleties that allow them to be combined." When he chooses an ingredient, he tries to look at it using a two-fold manner. The first is looking at the characteristics, and the second is by looking at the things that it is usually paired with, or "references." He used raspberry as an example: characteristics are acidic, sweet, floral and a granular texture. Its references are other berries, dairy, chocolate, spices and herbs. Butron said,

"if we take a poll right now, we could probably come up with the same list of references, with dairy probably first. These are sort of the international references. Anybody asked anywhere could probably come up with the same set of combinations, however there are also very particularly local references. in Catalunya it is very common to eat chicharrones with pine nuts and sugar, as a pastry, not savory. since this is such a regional flavor combo, when outsiders come to taste it they are sort of taken aback. As a contrast something that in America is very common, carrot cake and or cheesecake would be seen as strange in Spain. one of the things we have to be constantly doing is to be learning about not just the local combos, but also about the international to open up our flavor possibilities. Also, there are some ingredients that i call "promiscuous." By this I mean that there are certain ingredients that can go any number of ways, that have a lot of partners, take for example chocolate - what doesn't it work with? There are also ingredients that are the opposite, like rhubarb: fruit, white chocolate, maybe vanilla or cinnamon, but it doesn’t go too many places. I'm making this point only because in trying to be creative we sort of skip this process and come up with things that are not exactly inedible, but almost."

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to be continued...


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Jordi Butron continued...

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Step 2 of 3 is technique - wholly technique. Today there many books that talk about technique. According to Butron, they all talk about technique as the subject, with not a whole lot about flavor. He asked, "are we interested in flavor in the end?" and answered, "I think so, so why is there so much talk about technique and not flavor?" Butron offered a theory:

Technique is easy to acquire, it’s all about repetition. In contrast knowing your ingredients and having a vast library of flavors requires much experience and many years. That’s the reason why a third of our annual course at Espai Sucre consists of blind tastings. We do them on any products that can be involved in a dessert: types of apples, teas, dairy, alcohol. and from what I’ve seen at school, the level of many in terms of how well they know their ingredients is sort of embarrassing. Do not take me wrong and think that i am speaking against technique - pastry is technique, but it has to be in service of flavor. What I am really not in favor is that desserts are used as a showpiece, are too gimmicky, but there is not a whole lot going on flavor-wise, sort of a beautiful candy box that is filled with candies that do not taste like much. When i think about specific technique that I want to apply to specific ingredients, I consider whether or not it is an invasive technique. Does it cloud the flavor of the ingredient or not? if I have an ingredient and after applying a technique to it, I end up with something that does not taste like the original ingredient, I have to go back and try a different technique.

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to be continued...


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Jordi Butron continued...

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Step 3 of 3 is plating. How will one arrange the elements on the plate? According to Butron, the store pastry chef has a good system.

When you go to a pastry store and you select a tart, you will eat it all at once. Chocolate, apricot, raspberry, and booze, nobody questions that all of those elements can be eaten at once. I know that all of those elements are delicious on their own, but the point is to integrate them to be delicious. This is a function of how the dish is plated... there is really just one possibility. You cannot repeat the same plating over and over, because if that is what you try to do, in the end all you will come up with is a tart. What we said in the beginning is that restaurant pastry is trying to create its own separate language from that which exists in stores. The rp has to develop its own language - always with affection towards what it owes to stores, but with a certain distance. otherwise we’ll never be able to create a separate and independent discipline. now for some plating....

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Butron answered some questions from the audience:

Q: How do you encompass aroma into your desserts, with hot and cold desserts, any aromas or oils that you use to enhance the experience?

A: You can do several things to work with aroma. If it’s a dough or anything that's baked, you can incorporate it into the dough or sprinkle it on as it comes out. You can also work with oils that are so bright. Obviously its much more apparent when you have something hot. I don't know about here, but in Spain we are seeing a movement away from desserts that have a hot element, because it is easier when everything is cold.

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Here comes the dessert, and then more questions. I wanted to come up with a truffle dessert, without repeating the obvious. What everybody does when working with truffles is just shave them. What did I do first? I used my 2-fold system to look at a truffle. Characteristics: dirt, underbrush, moisture, bittersweet/caramelized. References: fatty things, nuts, eggs, meats, butter and secondly with another family of ingredients: rice, pasta. generally its elements are supported by things that don't have a lot of flavor in and of themselves. It has been said that truffles don't have a lot of flavor, but rather are aromatic. It is good to support a truffle with something that has a little bit of flavor, like fat. What I tried to do with this list of ingredients was to do something that would make the truffle feel at home as a dessert. I don’t like using strange elements for their own sake. When I make a dessert using something that doesn’t come from a list of normal ingredients I try to surround it with something that would be more normal as a dessert, which makes it more acceptable as a dessert, in this case, butter ice cream, brioche, a truffle gelee, caramelized chestnuts.... My friend Claudia Silva has been in NY for a while. We are at our 9th class, she was in my 3rd class. Hazelnut/praline dressed up, and then the hazelnut sable on top of that. On top of that we have the truffle jelly made with juice and honey from truffle, same size as the sablé. It was premade for the demo, in case you notice any problems. Cocoa nibs on top, these are really very bitter. caramelized hazelnuts as well around the sides. On top we have the brown butter ice cream which was very hard to bring. Ice cream in a general sense is a combination of solids and liquids. If I adhere to the rule that the solids should be only such a percentage of the plate, then the ice cream would not have tasted like butter. Therefore I know that the ice cream...... it exceeds the percentage of what a correct ice cream should have. its one that we have to re-spin for every time we serve it. The fat content is really high, probably above even 48-50%, a normal fat content should be 30/35%. On top of the ice cream goes the brioche, which on it’s own is kind of bad. It has a smoked saltiness to it. You have to eat it in its context. On top a little bit more of the caramelized hazelnut, and some truffle oil. That’s it. It’s really a complicated dessert in terms of plating. At Espai Sucre we have desserts that are more complex or more visually arresting, but you close your eyes and you eat brioche cocoa butter and hazelnut, tremendous.

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Q: You spoke about using fewer sugars in their pastries. I know that in the US they use too much sugar. Can you speak about the differences that you see when you come to the US as opposed to Spanish desserts?

A: That everybody’s excuse , if you go to Spain the level of sugar is the same or even higher than here. I don’t like too much sugar in my desserts. It doesn’t even have to do with health reasons, it’s just a flavor thing. Sugar used excessively saturates, and won’t allow the other components to breathe.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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For more information on the classes referred to by Jordi Butron, click here.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Many thanks, 'doc!

Probably the most in depth piece of 'lit I've seen on Jordi Butron yet.

Superb.


2317/5000

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Many thanks, 'doc!

Probably the most in depth piece of 'lit I've seen on Jordi Butron yet.

Superb.

Thanks, Ted. Credit must go to my son, who proved to be a superb transcriber. In addition Tona did another fine job translating. I was able to follow most of what Butron said in Spanish and Tona nailed it.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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For what it's worth, Michael Laiskonis recently posted an interesting behind-the-scenes look at Jordi Butron's presentation on his blog.

That is an interesting aspect of the ICC that may not be very well known - each visiting presenting chef is paired with a local NYC host chef. This can be particularly useful when a visiting chef has a lot to do to prepare for their presentation. In this case Butron was paired with Laiskonis. Last year Oriol Balaguer was paired with Johnny Iuzzini. They try to pair similar disciplines and chefs with similar outlooks.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Well worth the wait.  Thanks John.

Thanks, Rob. Unfortunately with my current schedule, posts will continue to be sporadic, though I will finish! :smile:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A Behind the Scenes Preview of Upcoming Demos:

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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For what it's worth, Michael Laiskonis recently posted an interesting behind-the-scenes look at Jordi Butron's presentation on his blog.

Michael's piece was a bonus too!

Some great reading this week :smile:


2317/5000

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Masaharu Morimoto - Fish: Head to Tail

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The presentations from Barton Seaver and Rick Moonen were perhaps the most important, the wizardry of Heston Blumenthal the most magical, the discussion with Michael Ruhlman, Anthony Bourdain and Marco Pierre White the most controversial, but the most entertaining presentation of the two days I was at Starchefs ICC this year easily went to Masahiro Morimoto, who broke down a large monkfish in front of the audience using a single knife, while his staff used the various pieces of the entire fish to craft dishes. Morimoto described the species as "rare" though not "endangered." According to blueocean.org. the monkfish is in the "yellow" zone with "some environmental concerns."

The fish was brought out in a large plastic container.

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It was then hung from a pole. Morimoto said that monkfish "are difficult to cut on a board," because "they don't have enough bones."

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Morimoto said that in Japan, it is customary to eat every part of a fish, "guts, fins, bone everything."

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He described himself as "nervous," since he "doesn't do much cutting of whole fish" and didn't "want to make a mistake."

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This was a large fish and was clearly quite heavy.

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It ultimately took two men to hang it from the pole.

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With the fish hung up, Morimoto finally approached it ...

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to be continued...


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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John and son, thanks so much for this continuing report.

I've been vicariously and quietly following along, but I can remain silent no longer. Anko tsurushi giri (monkfish hanging and cutting) and the great Masaharu Morimoto!?! It doesn't get much better than that.

Last weekend I found a whole 30 lb monkfish at my market, but ultimately I chickened out hoping for a smaller specimen to bring home next time. Those who are interested in the seven stones of the monkfish should check out Hiroyuki's topic starting at post #4.

These fish are considered here to be a marginal bi-catch -- the tail fillet goes $4.99/lb and the rest is discarded. It's a shame.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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John and son, thanks so much for this continuing report.

I've been vicariously and quietly following along, but I can remain silent no longer. Anko tsurushi giri (monkfish hanging and cutting) and the great Masaharu Morimoto!?! It doesn't get much better than that.

Last weekend I found a whole 30 lb monkfish at my market, but ultimately I chickened out hoping for a smaller specimen to bring home next time. Those who are interested in the seven stones of the monkfish should check out Hiroyuki's topic starting at post #4.

These fish are considered here to be a marginal bi-catch -- the tail fillet goes $4.99/lb and the rest is discarded. It's a shame.

Peter, Thanks for bringing that in here. Those photos are very consistent with what Morimoto did at Starchefs. I will be showing more, in detail.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Morimoto continued...

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Morimoto steps to the fish with his knife.

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First he cuts off the fish's fins.

to be continued...


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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