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Avec Eric


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As I had posted earlier, in one of my deleted messages, I am still offended that Ruhlman posted it as 'information' in the first place. I am offended that he refused to retract it for several days, until more than one woman 'proved' it to be incorrect.

Ruhlman has the right to stand by with what he thinks is right. But credit to him for removing something when he gets proven wrong.

And, yes, I don't trust anyone on TV who talks about searing meat as acting to seal in juices. I avoid Rachel Ray because she said that on the very first episode of her show that I watched, I haven't watched since. Alton Brown regularly presents personal opinion as absolute fact, and this is why I rarely watch his show -and I double-check his 'facts' before believing him about anything.

What happens if a chef gets one fact wrong in a show, but all his other facts correct? And how would you know what is right and what is wrong anyway? Do you know everything about food?

If you go back to the "searing meat to seal in the juices" theory, it was accepted as fact for many years.....until McGee proved it to be wrong. So what may be fact this year might be proven to be not fact somewhere down the track.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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As I had posted earlier, in one of my deleted messages, I am still offended that Ruhlman posted it as 'information' in the first place. I am offended that he refused to retract it for several days, until more than one woman 'proved' it to be incorrect.

Ruhlman has the right to stand by with what he thinks is right. But credit to him for removing something when he gets proven wrong.

And, yes, I don't trust anyone on TV who talks about searing meat as acting to seal in juices. I avoid Rachel Ray because she said that on the very first episode of her show that I watched, I haven't watched since. Alton Brown regularly presents personal opinion as absolute fact, and this is why I rarely watch his show -and I double-check his 'facts' before believing him about anything.

What happens if a chef gets one fact wrong in a show, but all his other facts correct? And how would you know what is right and what is wrong anyway? Do you know everything about food?

If you go back to the "searing meat to seal in the juices" theory, it was accepted as fact for many years.....until McGee proved it to be wrong. So what may be fact this year might be proven to be not fact somewhere down the track.

Ok, well Ruhlman isn't a die-hard sexist. But, he's still gullible enough to believe, and teach to others, prejudiced comments about various groups of peoples' abilities to perform tasks.

If a celebrity, especially one put forth from the Food Network's machine gets even one fact wrong I am really done with them. (I do know that not all FN shows are produced by FN, for example, Good Eats is produced by Mr. Brown, away from the machine.) The big networks that produce in-house shows, and especially Food Network, run scripts and final tape past a group of fact-checkers. Those fact-checkers should be smart enough, and have extensive resources, to get it right before the show airs.

I don't know everything about food, but, I do know that McGee's first book had quite an impact on everyone, home cooks and chefs, back in 1980. (IIRC, when Rachel Ray was 12...) Magazines and newspapers reviewed and reported on the book in-depth. It's ridiculous that, 29 years later, anyone should not know better than to mention searing as sealing in juices.

I also do not have to know everything about food. I happen to have access to the Internet, a good personal library of medical and scientific texts, subscriptions to scientific journals, and as something known as a Public Library. Back in Middle School, I was taught the basics of doing research on factual topics. I expect the producers of television shows to have the same, if not better access to quality resources and to use them. If they decide to be lazy, I choose to not waste my time paying attention to their shows.

Yes, new discoveries are made all the time. I recall the landmark discovery of trans fats increasing LDL cholesterol and decreasing HDL cholesterol, published in 1990 -the year I stopped eating it. I don't expect factual articles or shows about trans fats from before 1990 to reflect this work, but I do expect those who did work later to acknowledge it. (and, I do know the difference between published, actual double-blind research and vanity press releases)

And, yes, this brings up the whole issue of the trustworthiness of blogs in general -as opposed to traditional magazines with in-house fact checking departments. By forgoing the classic staffing of a magazine, bloggers generally assert that they can wear all of the hats (writer, editor, fact-checker, advertising salesperson) themselves and perform these tasks competently. If they do not perform fact-checking competently, then they simply are not a reliable source for factual information -not trustworthy as journalists.

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I don't know everything about food, but, I do know that McGee's first book had quite an impact on everyone, home cooks and chefs, back in 1980. (IIRC, when Rachel Ray was 12...) Magazines and newspapers reviewed and reported on the book in-depth. It's ridiculous that, 29 years later, anyone should not know better than to mention searing as sealing in juices.

The facts may say otherwise, but I do think there is some value in keeping a long held, if incorrect, belief.

If you teach someone to cook and tell them that you sear the meat to get those nice caramally flavours and go on about the maillard reactions, peoples eyes will glaze over and they may miss the step. But tell someone that if you seal the meat to keep in the juices, then they'll remember it because everyone loves a juicy piece of meat.

And I'd also think that most people, when they're being taught to cook by their parents, are told that searing the meat will seal in the juices. IT's something that we've all been taught since we were teenagers, and so, it's a belief that is hard to shake off.

As ulterior epicure pointed out, there's the story of Italian cooks saying that you need to put in a cork when you cook octopus. Now, I don't know whether that has any effect on the tenderness of the octopus, but heck, it makes a great story and adds that bit of romance to the food.

I also do not have to know everything about food. I happen to have access to the Internet, a good personal library of medical and scientific texts, subscriptions to scientific journals, and as something known as a Public Library. Back in Middle School, I was taught the basics of doing research on factual topics. I expect the producers of television shows to have the same, if not better access to quality resources and to use them. If they decide to be lazy, I choose to not waste my time paying attention to their shows.

That's fair enough.

But in the end, it's only a food show. And sometimes, it is a good thing that they say things that we think are incorrect - and you can enjoy some feisty discussions with your TV watching partner or laugh at the wrong info.

And, yes, this brings up the whole issue of the trustworthiness of blogs in general -as opposed to traditional magazines with in-house fact checking departments. By forgoing the classic staffing of a magazine, bloggers generally assert that they can wear all of the hats (writer, editor, fact-checker, advertising salesperson) themselves and perform these tasks competently. If they do not perform fact-checking competently, then they simply are not a reliable source for factual information -not trustworthy as journalists.

That's the responsibility of the people who are providing the information, but as a reader of blogs/websites/media, we also have our own responsibility to be aware of our own prejudices. Take someone like Anthony Bourdain. As someone who loves meat (and the nasty bits), I'm far more likely to agree with him and his view of the facts than someone who is a vegan.

In our local paper, they had an article a few weeks ago about people who had, um....different.....diet regimes. One person only ate fruit and another primarily ate raw meat. I thought they were a few sausages short of the full BBQ. But to these people, their diets are based on facts. So, who is right and who is wrong?

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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My main point here isn't to nitpick facts about inanimate objects like corks.

The original statement was about a segment of the human population and their supposed lack of ability in the kitchen. (according to Ripert and Ruhlman) All of the alternate examples people are posting here are not related, because, it's not just about fiction being sold as fact, it's about insulting and demeaning a group of people.

I am a vegetarian, so I don't like Bourdain and I don't think he would enjoy dinner at my house. I have read all of his books and seen much of his television work. (Yes, I really, really enjoyed one episode shot in Africa.) While he hasn't been nice to vegetarians, and I wish he could have been a bit more civil at times, he hasn't yet lowered himself to telling the world that about half of the adult population of the world is incompetent in the kitchen for a few days each month -like his buddies Eric and Micheal.

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I'm looking forward to the show because the man can cook.

But! we need to put an end to this sexist culinary urban legend. Some nubile ladies here (attention all you contribute to the PMS topic)

and start a topic here that shows you making mayo when your red-headed cousin comes to call.

I think it would be a hoot, and a way to Fight the Power!

ETA: I can't imagine a cook/restaurateur like, say, Jacques Pepin's Maman who had to eschew mayo making five days a month.

Edited by maggiethecat (log)

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I would also like to note that none of the examples of silliness given in this thread involve sexist or racist attributions of ability, they are all about objects or animals, not the ability of one class or group of people to perform tasks or not.

That's a fair statement and I agree, my example of colors wasn't the best choice. If it were made known to me that someone was intentionally attempting to belittle women and their kitchen skills in this manner I would support your position completely (not that you're asking me to). However, Ruhlman reporting that Chef Ripert said that he was told this by his mentor while young just doesn't seem to fit into that category to me. I wasn't there for the conversation and haven't heard Chef Ripert's side of the story so I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt. The whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing. You find it offensive so you gotta do what you gotta do. Fight on.

And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Just want to be clear on that since the internet sucks at conveying intent.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I wasn't there for the conversation and haven't heard Chef Ripert's side of the story so I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt.

I would think that Chef Ripert deserves the benefit of the doubt. Reading his books, it's clear that he has an absolute respect for Maguy Le Coze, he writes with affection about his own mother's cooking, and he devoted a chapter in "On The Line" on the development of a dish by Soa Davies (the dish went straight onto the Le Bernadin menu, and ironically enough, the dish contains a red wine bearnaise). Oh, and On The Line was co-written with Christine Muhlke.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Well, I'll take actions over words. Le Bernadin is owned by a woman and Chef Ripert has had many women in high positions in this kitchen. Ref Bourdain's account of his kitchen in Kitchen Confidential. A woman is his Chef de Cuisine at his new 10Arts in Philly. Somehow I don't think she'd work for the guy if he told her not to make the mayo a few days out of the month.

I don't think relating some "old chef's tale" that the old guys bandied about to justify keeping women out of their domain translates to sexism. Many people are told stupid things when they are learning their craft. This sounds pretty bogus to me and sounds like it was taken out of context.

I'll watch.

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I'm looking forward to the show because the man can cook.

But! we need to put an end to this sexist culinary urban legend. Some nubile ladies here (attention all you contribute to the PMS topic)

and start a topic here that shows you making mayo when your red-headed cousin comes to call.

I think it would be a hoot, and a way to Fight the Power!

ETA: I can't imagine a cook/restaurateur like, say, Jacques Pepin's Maman who had to eschew mayo making five days a month.

Ah, my first smile since near the beginning of this, er, interesting thread!

Yes, I can conclusively state that I have heard from friends who heard from friends that they know several women who have successfully made mayonnaise BY HAND!!! at *THAT TIME OF THE MONTH*

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Professional kitchens often overflow with sexism. And a million other -isms. They're relics of a very different era. Things are changing there, but not as quickly as they've changed just about everywhere else.

Many of the beliefs and practices in pro kitchens that are worth taking offence over. The comment about mayo, if it was even uttered in the first place, doesn't strike me as one of them. It's either 1) a joke, 2) an urban legend, or 3) a bit of regional kitchen folklore that predates the term "urban legend."

I think it's also worth cutting some slack to people who trained in France or other countries with highly authoritative apprentice-journeyman systems. The spirit of education doesn't involve any questioning of authority. You're taught that "this is the way, this is how it is, this is how it's done." If Chef says that gypsy women mustn't uncork wine during the full moon, the correct response isn't "Why?" ... it's "Oui Chef!"

And so, folk wisdom, ever durable, is especially durable in authoritative cultures. As an example: the idea that searing meat seals in the juices. McGee didn't discover that this was a falacy; it was discovered and published by a food scientist, in France, in the 1930s. Yet the myth lingers on, even among French cooks.

Reading too much into something like the mayo comment reflects either a loss of perspective or a desire to take offence over anything. It's also worth noting that Ripert's boss is a woman, he has at least one female sous chefs, and he has a reputation for running one of the most respectful kitchens in New York.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Professional kitchens often overflow with sexism. And a million other -isms. They're relics of a very different era. Things are changing there, but not as quickly as they've changed just about everywhere else.

Many of the beliefs and practices in pro kitchens that are worth taking offence over. The comment about mayo, if it was even uttered in the first place, doesn't strike me as one of them. It's either 1) a joke, 2) an urban legend, or 3) a bit of regional kitchen folklore that predates the term "urban legend."

I think it's also worth cutting some slack to people who trained in France or other countries with highly authoritative apprentice-journeyman systems. The spirit of education doesn't involve any questioning of authority. You're taught that "this is the way, this is how it is, this is how it's done." If Chef says that gypsy women mustn't uncork wine during the full moon, the correct response isn't "Why?" ... it's "Oui Chef!"

And so, folk wisdom, ever durable, is especially durable in authoritative cultures. As an example: the idea that searing meat seals in the juices. McGee didn't discover that this was a falacy; it was discovered and published by a food scientist, in France, in the 1930s. Yet the myth lingers on, even among French cooks.

Reading too much into something like the mayo comment reflects either a loss of perspective or a desire to take offence over anything. It's also worth noting that Ripert's boss is a woman, he has at least one female sous chefs, and he has a reputation for running one of the most respectful kitchens in New York.

I'm sorry, but "we all can agree that it's wrong and stupid, but that's just the way it is" is really not good enough. I'm not questioning that Ripert is respectful to women, because I believe that he generally is - but this fallacy is indeed disresepctful and should be eliminated. "The heirarchy of the kitchen" is NO justification. I was willing to let this go as mere nonsense, but the idea that a woman could be ordered out the kitchen because it's "that time of month" without recourse - at least in this country, I can't and won't speak for France -is a much more serious matter.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I'm sorry, but "we all can agree that it's wrong and stupid, but that's just the way it is" is really not good enough.

Which isn't what I said. Straw man arguments are becoming a bit of a sport around here.

This particular tempest is all about a second hand quotation. Even if the words were ever said, we have no context. As far as we know (and this strikes me as likely, considering everything else we know about Ripert), he was mocking some old French folk wisdom.

Notes from the underbelly

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I don't know how the business of mentors telling anyone anything came into the discussion. Ruhlman quoted Ripert as stating that it was 'common knowledge in France' -no mention of a parent or chef-instructor at all.

I have heard people use the term 'common knowledge' to simply validate personal belief without citation, usually because there is no external source to cite. It can be a warning signal that the knowledge being passed along is neither common nor knowledge.

Secondly, Ruhlman should have known better than to publish the quote. Any time a statement involves an entire class of people and their abilities, a reasonable person should recognize that it's a biased statement -and refrain from including it in educational text.

The fact that Ruhlman refused to withdraw the statement from his website until three women proved it to be wrong was a poor choice as well.

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Why is it that people get the benefit of the doubt until it's something that offends you?

Why is it that actions speak louder than words until they don't?

Why is this an issue at all? Plenty of people have said far worse things than this, fully intending to perpetuate those things. Chef Ripert seems to be a perfectly respectful and decent human being in every other situation. If he said it, he probably didn't intend it seriously, and if he did, maybe it was a long time ago and he's changed. I'm sure every single one of the posters offended by this have said far worse things once or twice in their lives. Maybe Ripert should make it his mission to correct your mistakes?

If you like him, watch the show. If you don't, for whatever silly reason, don't start a crusade. Just change the channel.

Edited by MikeHartnett (log)
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I'm sorry, but "we all can agree that it's wrong and stupid, but that's just the way it is" is really not good enough.

Which isn't what I said. Straw man arguments are becoming a bit of a sport around here.

This particular tempest is all about a second hand quotation. Even if the words were ever said, we have no context. As far as we know (and this strikes me as likely, considering everything else we know about Ripert), he was mocking some old French folk wisdom.

That's not my concern. My concern is that IF a woman in a kitchen can be discriminated against for something this stupid, that's a situation which demands legal attention. That's ALL that I said. I am not even saying that it's been established AT ALL that it does happen. Please note that I said specifically that I believe that Ripert respects women and that the comment - even if accurately attributed to him - itself is not my problem.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Who said anything about women being discriminated against? Seriously. Can you point me to this?

The only thing that I've seen is some off-hand comment that women can't make mayo while menstruating. Yes, it's silly. I happen to believe the comment wasn't meant to be taken seriously. Others disagree. But raising this comment to "women are being discriminated against" is just as silly. Has anyone claimed that they, or someone they know, was discriminated against?

Finally, I read the posts of the women on Ruhlman's blog that "disproved" the theory. They were clearly making fun of the whole thing. They weren't upset by a supposed serious comment. I don't know why Ruhlman removed this bit from his site, but I am sure it isn't because someone wrote that the theory isn't true. Why doesn't someone just ask him about this rather than all of us speculating?

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Yeah.  I'm officially on the hunt for his On the Line book now as well.

He's really a class act.  Doesn't berate anyone's dishes or humiliate them but he's got enough clout and respect that you can tell it's devastating to alot of the chefs on TC if they don't impress him.

On The Line is a great book! I got it for Christmas, and read it through in a day or so. It's now one of my prized books in my collection. I think for me, being a culinary student (at the age of 36 no less) I liked how each station was broken down with it's mise list and everything.

It's worth the money for this book!

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I'm really, really trying hard to not go on a 10,000 word rant about societal power differentials...

I'll sum it up with: 1) As an Architect, I'm still going to try to learn as much as I can from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, despite what a scumball he was in his personal life. 2) Yes, it matters when people in power promulgate bizarre lies about people with less power - it's a tool to keep them down. 3)Yes, these are contradictory, but that's part of being an adult.

But does anyone know anything specific about this show? When is it due to air?

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But does anyone know anything specific about this show?  When is it due to air?

I couldn't find a commitment from PBS to a firm date for when "Avec Eric" will air. They're only announcing "sometime in the Fall of 2009."

One thing that is unique with PBS is that not all of the programs run on all PBS stations throughout the nation. You can always count on "Nature" and "Masterpiece Theater" running on Sunday nights. But in the case of most of the cooking shows, it's often a matter of what programs the local PBS station can afford to carry. So "Avec Eric" may not roll out on the same date nor on all the PBS stations throughout the country this Fall.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

This show has finally premiered here in Dallas. I think the station here is a few weeks behind for whatever reason, but episode one aired yesterday afternoon. I didn't realize it was coming on, so my TiVo wasn't setup to record it. I managed to catch the last 7 or 8 minutes of the show where he cooked a pork loin with a mushroom sauce. Based on the wesbsite, this show seems to be part food travel show, part cooking show. I'm looking forward to seeing a full episode next time.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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So, If Chef Ripert is so anti-women, how did a woman hold such an important position in the kitchen at Le Bernardin a woman who has since been promoted to chef de cuisine at his restaurant in the Ritz Carlton in Philadephia. Also, at least for the last 5 years there have always been women assistant sommeliers at Le bernardin.

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Not to add fuel to said fire, but in school (culinary that is) our International Cuisine Chef-Instructor read a passage from Larousse that during the ancient Roman times that women were not to allowed to pick Basil, at anytime because of menstruation and they were considered unclean. And basil was a prized herb and therefore picked by men who were considered cleaner.

Maybe that's part of where all this is coming from?

Look it up..it's there.

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