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Chef Interview - egullet members version

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Hello

Here in my town, our newspaper has a weekly column whereby local chefs are asked the same questions week in, week out.  For a bit of fun, I thought I'd bring it across to us all and ask you to answer!  Here are the questions:

 

1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

It's often a fun read in our paper, so it's hopefully going to be fun to see your responses.

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1) The one I'm eating at next.

 

2) Salt. Should be obvious why.

 

3) Are you calling me a tool?

 

4) Shoraian, in Kyoto.

 

5) Prices going up.

 

6) Servers saying "Enjoy!"

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1) Doesn't exist anymore. -When I was a kid, eating out at a fancy place often meant a French restaurant. Maybe it was overdone for a while, but, now, in some parts of the US anyway, it seems impossible to find any sort of real French restaurant. (ironic because so many people are just slapping the word bistro onto all types of places that aren't really bistros) Anyway, I miss the golden days of haute cuisine. As a pastry chef, I should add that my favorite place to buy candy is Despina Leos' Candy Kitchen in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Leos and the Candy Kitchen store was a huge influence on me as a teenager and my eventual decision to go to culinary school and get a pastry degree.

 

2) Salt, after that, acids: lemon, vinegar, wine. I like food to taste alive and acid really brightens dishes.

 

3) My handcrafted, end-grain cutting board. It provides the foundation for so many other tools, and winds up being the main stage for most cooking processes.

 

4) Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

 

5) Spices and dishes from African countries like Ghana and Nigeria.

 

6) Putting a "twist on the classics." Most of the people doing this don't have a clue about classic cuisine from any region on Earth. (except perhaps mid-century modern American pre-packaged foods) It's time to stand up and demand proficiency and genuine credibility instead of accepting half-baked, amateurish execution of cuisine, or worse, poorly conceived 'fusion'.

 

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

I've been lucky enough to eat in starred restaurants, but if I'm being honest, my favourite, the place I was happiest in my mind and mouth, is a tiny hole-in-the-wall Sichuan place operated by lovely couple near my home in the Chinese countryside. He cooks; she does front-of-hole. When they get busy, which happens more than you might expect for a place in the middle of nowhere, they employ students from the local colleges to help out, and they are lovely too.

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

My mood. Because you can't cook well, even for yourself, without love.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

My wok(s). Because there is almost nothing you can't cook in a wok and lots you can only cook in a wok.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

A tiny father and son restaurant on a lonely Thai island where I spent a honeymoon. The island was empty apart from me and the Mrs and the restaurant staff of two. We ordered crab and the son disappeared and came back dripping wet with a beautiful specimen he had just dived for. Father cooked it to perfection.  Sadly, wife is no longer with us, but I dream to go back.

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

Where?

In the west, more regional Asian food. There is a plethora of unknown dishes, still.

Here in China, unfortunately, more ersatz  western dishes cooked by people who have only ever seen pictures of the real thing and then imagined the recipe.

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

The increasing misuse of words and phrase on menus which only demonstrate the writer's ignorance of their native tongue. "Iteration" does not mean "variation" or even "version". 'Flavor profile' nearly almost just means 'flavor'. Grrrrr!

Just tell me what I'm going to eat. I'm not a moron.

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own): Absolutely fell in love with Nur in Tallin Estonia. Don't know if they're still there but the passion was as strong as any restaurant I've been.

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why? Yes, salt and acid. Those can make or break any dish. Beyond the basics I would say my flours. I now have over a dozen locally grown, freshly milled flours and each is crucial to the recipe I source it for.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why? Depending on the hour either my offset or my chef knife

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine? Andrew Pern's Star Inn the City in York. His cookbook is still my favorite of the hundreds in my collection and I'd love to enjoy his food and hospitality.

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year? I think the balancing against the locavore movement is going to gain traction. I'm seeing more and more of the top chefs respond to that just as they've responded to molecular gastronomy - "We've done that. We've learned from that. It's a tool in our toolkit. But now I want to cook the best food I can regardless of where its from."

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away? (Not a new trend by any means) I want to see an end to superfluous quotes on menus. I want an end to instructions on how to eat food. And I want all of the chef-orgasm descriptors to go away - let the food speak for itself. 

Examples (in order):

 

Broccoli "steak" - It's not steak damnit! It's a broccoli floret cook on a grill! (Make me want to scream every time)

"Please enjoy your kale leaves by using our shears to snip the leaves from the stalk and swipe them in the various sauces." ...this is real...don't get me started.

"This is our 6-month baked tomato sauce." Um...no it isn't. If you wasted 6 months of utilities baking your tomatoes then you're a complete idiot. (And no, it was not a solar oven. I asked.)

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

I like a tiny hole in the wall Asian called Star of Siam

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

Salt.  Used correctly, it's just so important.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

My chef knife.  It almost becomes part of you when you cook.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

I would love to see Core by Clare Smyth because I think she is so inspiring as a chef.

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

Pinot Noir

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

menu descriptions with just the ingredients. "Beef, broccoli, noodles, peanuts"

ok, but how is it cooked?

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Far from a chef, but from a passable home cook's POV:

 

1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

Hard to make that call, but likely Murphy's Wine Bar in Atlanta. That braised pork shank...

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

Got to go with the others who say salt.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

My skillets and my knives. Don't know that I could function without either.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

I have always wanted to do the Friday lunch at Galatoire's in NOLA, and have never done it.

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

I haven't a clue.

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

Chatty waitstaff. I appreciate waiters' commentary on food WHEN I ASK FOR IT.

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4 hours ago, kayb said:

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

Chatty waitstaff. I appreciate waiters' commentary on food WHEN I ASK FOR IT.

 

 

Seems I've recently developed a skill for ordering every server's favorite menu item. 


Edited by chileheadmike spelling (log)
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On 12/16/2017 at 8:40 AM, gfron1 said:

"This is our 6-month baked tomato sauce." 

 

I've tried to come up with a plausible interpretation of this but I can't.  What do you think it was supposed to mean--and what do you think it really was?

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

bluestem in Kansas City.  Megan's desserts completely rock.  These folks are the reason planes land in midcontinent.  Thanks for your passion. .

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

My salts, different ones for different reasons and uses.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

My knives.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

Any restaurant from Boka in Chicago.  I have known Kevin since Lazy Dayz and Indigo Wine Bar days.  

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

Hopefully oysters

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

Out of season items listed as locally sourced.  

 


Edited by joiei further define a description (log)
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8 minutes ago, joiei said:

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

Any restaurant from Boka in Chicago.  I have known Kevin since Lazy Dayz and Indigo Wine Bar days. 

 

Yep, that's a heck of a collection. We've been to only a few of them (but not Boka itself). Next week, though, will be the first time for GT Prime.

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

      Nook, a little Italian restaurant a few blocks from where I live.

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

     I’m with @liuzhou – my mood. 

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

       Knives, as they are the most used.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

      St John Bread & Wine, London  (this could and does change from day to day but this is today’s dream).

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

       I don’t know.

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

     Food served in large bowls designed so that inevitably the cutlery slides down and has to be constantly fished out.

 

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11 minutes ago, barolo said:

 

 

 

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

     Food served in large bowls designed so that inevitably the cutlery slides down and has to be constantly fished out.

 

 

I am not a chef, but as an eater, #6 drives me bonkers.  Why do chefs serve food in these things?

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2 hours ago, Fernwood said:

 

I've tried to come up with a plausible interpretation of this but I can't.  What do you think it was supposed to mean--and what do you think it really was?

Maybe twisting fermented as baked? Maybe in a jar in his kitchen window? But I have no idea. 

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On 12/15/2017 at 9:20 PM, Cronker said:

1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

Napa Rose, Anaheim

 

On 12/15/2017 at 9:20 PM, Cronker said:

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

Pepper, because it brights up so many things.

On 12/15/2017 at 9:20 PM, Cronker said:

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

10" Chef's Knife, because it's an extension of my arm.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

(Not well travelled or read - no idea)

On 12/15/2017 at 9:20 PM, Cronker said:

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

Sous Vide listing on menus as a manner of preparation.

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

Overly familiar wait staff. Generally annoying. Extreme example: My DW and I had a member of the wait staff sit down at our table a couple of years ago.

 

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On 16/12/2017 at 1:40 PM, gfron1 said:

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine? Andrew Pern's Star Inn the City in York. His cookbook is still my favorite of the hundreds in my collection and I'd love to enjoy his food and hospitality.

 

 

Wow, that's a recommendation I can accept! If it's your dream destination anywhere in the world and I live virtually down the road from it, I would be churlish not to pay a vist! Thank you.

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On 12/16/2017 at 4:56 AM, Lisa Shock said:

4) Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

 

I'd never heard of the place, so of course I had to do my research, aka Google, where I found this review from The Guardian. (I love the Guardian; it's my most trusted online news source.)

 

Quote

I once claimed I ate in lousy restaurants so you wouldn't have to. The circumstances today are subtly different. I ate at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons because you never will. Granted, that's less selfless, but it is realistic.

Quote

Cue outbreaks of words like "obscenity" and "shameless", and that's from my own family. To which I can only say go get angry about something that really matters, which does not include the way those lucky enough to have the surplus income choose to spend it. At this level Le Manoir's customers are buying memories, not a cure for rickets. The memories they are buying may not be those that you seek, but they suit others. Nobody chastises the bloke who, say, spends £500 on a weekend in Paris merely to watch the rugby. This is no different.

Quote

The food served in the honey-coloured stone house with its thick-carpeted, softly lit dining room, is an expression of this garden. No single dish will astonish you through inventiveness. The food at Le Manoir isn't clever. It's just bloody nice. Nothing is gelled or squirted through a nitrous gun to look like fairy spit or dehydrated and reformed into the shape of the Ruins of Antioch. The killer ingredients are simply allowed to be themselves.

 

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15 hours ago, Kerala said:

Wow, that's a recommendation I can accept! If it's your dream destination anywhere in the world and I live virtually down the road from it, I would be churlish not to pay a vist! Thank you.

I'm very jealous and hope you'll report back...better yet, tell Chef Andrew that he has a fan boy over in the States.

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No chef here either, just a home cook with too little time on his hands. Alas, here we go:

 

1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

I believe that was 41degrees by the brothers Adria in Barcelona. I enjoyed the playfulness, the quality, the service (only 16 seatings, one waiter per person) and the wine pairings. And yes, the fact that the menu was actually 41 courses.

 
2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

Salt and oil/fat. Salt is obvious, but the choice of oil/fat more often than not pushes the food into a certain direction. Think goose fat for potatoes, chicken schmaltz for finishing soups, olive oil on bread, sesame & chili oil on cold starters ...
 
3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

Knives, hands down. I can do with crappy pans (as long as I have a gas range), but I need a good pair of knifes to "shape" my food . And maybe a microplane grater.
 
4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

I always wanted o go to El Bulli in Roses, but it has sadly closed down. Now maybe the French Laundry (during a week of wine tasting in Napa) ...
 
5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

Here in Hong Kong it's regional (rather than national) food - think not going to an Italian place, but one that features the cuisine of the Emilia Romana, or Uttar Pradesh dishes rather than "Indian". Consumers might be getting more conscious about the distinctions, and I think in the West this happens too, e.g. Hunanese rather than generic "Chinese" ...
 
6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

Wagyu this and that, when a "normal" breed would yield the same results. It has become a fancy item on virtually every menu here - and granted, for some items it works out nicely - but a braised Wagyu cheek in red wine reduction tastes exactly like a "regular" one and costs a third.

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1) What is your favourite restaurant (apart from your own)

 

This probably marks me out as a bit of a pleb, but I was so impressed when I visted Hakkasan Hanway Place in London. It's all a bit obvious. Lovely food with great presentation, flavour and texture. Attentive sleek attractive staff.  Subdued but sufficient lighting. Comfortable. Expensive. Loved it.

 

2) What is your most important ingredient in the kitchen, and why?

 

Fresh cracked pepper goes into everything almost as much as salt and oils. It's a taste that belongs in Western cooking but comes from south India. It makes me feel at home. As a taste, I love it on roasts, in stews, on marmalde- everything.

 

3) What tool is most important in your kitchen, and why?

 

My fan assisted oven. I've had it for 15 years, and I know exactly what will happen in it if I turn it up to 200 and cook for however many minutes.

 

4) Which restaurant, anywhere, is your dream destination to dine?

 

Rick Stein's place in Padstow on one hand.

A safe warm shack serving momo at the end of a long trek up a mountainside in Nepal, on the other.

 

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

Deconstruction.

 

6) What trend would you most like to see go away?

 

Deconstruction.

 


Edited by Kerala Dream restaurant change of mind (log)
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On 20/12/2017 at 12:55 AM, Duvel said:

5) What trend do you see becoming popular in restaurants in the next year?

 

Here in Hong Kong it's regional (rather than national) food - think not going to an Italian place, but one that features the cuisine of the Emilia Romana, or Uttar Pradesh dishes rather than "Indian". Consumers might be getting more conscious about the distinctions, and I think in the West this happens too, e.g. Hunanese rather than generic "Chinese" ...
 

I've noticed a bit of this happening here in the UK. All to the good.


Edited by Kerala typo (log)
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On 12/19/2017 at 8:47 AM, Alex said:

 

I'd never heard of the place, so of course I had to do my research, aka Google, where I found this review from The Guardian. (I love the Guardian; it's my most trusted online news source.)

 

 

 

I have enjoyed Mr Rayner's reviews for years, but somehow missed this one, thanks!

Le Manoir was also the location used for the English comedy series Chef!

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I'm also seeing the micro-regional trend here in Australia.  Especially in Asian and Indian restaurants.  There are a few now that look at you strangely if you enquire about butter chicken (my partner has not very broad taste).

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