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Professor Steven Kaplan -- Bread Guru


JFLinLA
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I had such fun this weekend attending a bread discussion and tasting lead by Professor Steven Kaplan held here in Los Angeles. Yes, he is professorial and not shy about his opinions. I found his attempt to apply academic rigor to bread tasting interesting and bit entertaining. He was thoroughly charming and approachable. I had a great time.

My husband and daughter came with me and we all laughed the next night as we attempted to rate and score the La Brea Bakery bread I brought home from the market. (Kaplan doesn't like LBB, though he didn't say why and none of us asked him why.)

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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My husband and daughter came with me and we all laughed the next night as we attempted to rate and score the La Brea Bakery bread I brought home from the market. (Kaplan doesn't like LBB, though he didn't say why and none of us asked him why.)

So what is Kaplan a professor of? Is he a baker? Has he baked artisan bread in a production environment on a regular basis? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with him.

Here's a question for you.......before you went to Kaplan's lecture did you buy LaBrea bread regularly? Did you like it? Did Kaplan's lecture and opinion change your opinion?

I think when it comes to food (and art) there is no "right" or "wrong" because of the subjectiveness of the people judging the food (or art). As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

For instance, my father loved burnt toast. I thought he was a little crazy, but he enjoyed it and that's really all that matters, right?

I can understand judging technique.....but taste and texture....that's all so subjective really. People like what they like.

I work in bakery where artisan bread is produced.....I'm also a former artisan bread baker. It's tough work, and even tougher to get consistency in your loaves every day since shop conditions change. There is no dough so fussy as bread dough, and getting it right night after night is a true challenge and a test of the bread baker's skill.

I may sound a little defensive....sorry about that. I come from an environment where I hear people's opinions about bread all the time. Some people come for miles to buy our bread where other people will pass it by in favor of the other local artisan baker's fare. Who's opinion counts, really? What's "right" to us is "wrong" to someone else......it's a debate that's undebatable...... :raz:

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Prof of European History at Cornell.

But the author of at least five books on bread...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...5082300291.html

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Bread-Back-Cont...y/dp/0822338335

PS Absolutely agreed that everyone's entitled to an opinion. But some people do have bigger opinions than others, it seems. :biggrin:

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Thanks Dougal. I agree. I know what I like regardless of what so-called experts say. And I know there are others who have much more sophisticated and sensitive tastebuds than mine (including my teenage daughter). Nevertheless, Prof. Kaplan does have something to say, is entitled to his opinion, gets more people to listen to his opinion on this topic than most, I can still learn something and enjoy myself in the process.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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I had such fun this weekend attending a bread discussion and tasting lead by Professor Steven Kaplan held here in Los Angeles. 

I envy you. I consider Kaplan to be the world's leading expert on French bread. More importantly, many French bakers do too.

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 had such fun this weekend attending a bread discussion and tasting lead by Professor Steven Kaplan held here in Los Angeles. 

I envy you. I consider Kaplan to be the world's leading expert on French bread. More importantly, many French bakers do too.

Thanks Steve. Will I ever be able to bake a baguette up to Kaplan's standards at home? Mais, non! Will I ever be able to taste all the nuances in bread Kaplan discussed? Unlikely. But, I did learn and, as I said in the initial post, I had fun. He's out promoting his book so may be coming to a book store or bakery or restaurant near you.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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