Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
marcus

Luxury Ingredients

Recommended Posts

After many years of eating in fine restaurants around the world, I find that my interest in luxury ingredients has diminished and I'm much more interested to see what a chef can do with market ingredients. Foie gras I find to have become a crutch and a cliche, not just in the US, but France as well, where it seems to be much more pervasive across a menu than it was in years past, and it is even showing up frequently on menus in Italy. When I see too much foie gras on a menu, I anticipate a negative opinion of the chef, when I, very rarely, see none, I am impressed. I have similar reactions to lobster, caviar and the like. In addition, I have never had the perception of tasting great foie gras in the US, whereas in France one does occasionally find it, especially in restaurants which have their roots in the southwest or Alsace.

I would be interested in your view as to the culinary worth of these ingredients versus market demand and whether these ingredients, particularly foie gras, should be used when the very best product may not be available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

marcus:

You may or may not have read my post answering Awbrig's topic on foie gras, if not it may give you some insight on this topic as well.

What is the difference between a market ingredient and a luxury ingredient? Nothing form the standpoint of creativity. If I can present to you a caviar dish that you have never seen before or make you taste, feel, and enjoy caviar like you have never experienced it before, how could you be less interested? Admittedly I feel the same as you on at least one point, the quality of luxury dishes served in the states is poor overall. The problem with this is the way the "luxury ingredients" are handled, how they are feared. Many chefs have not been exposed to the products enough to know how to manipulate them to their fullest potential. They are expensive so waste becomes an issue, but the main obstacle for creativity is tradition. These ingredients are soaked in the grandest of European tradition. Historically simple preparations letting the ingredient itself "shine".

What is the difference between a tomato and a truffle. Can you say that a fresh tomato out of the garden is less impressive than a black truffle? I can't. Sure, they are more expensive, wild, harder to find, harder to find chefs that know how to handle them because exposure is limited due to the above mentioned.

So maybe it's not the ingredients that you are lacking interest in, it's the way they are manipulated.

As I mentioned in the Awbrig post I think people expect to see luxury ingredients at high end restaurants. They want to see something in return for the dollars we are charging.

Innovation is tough to put a value on for most people.

Foie Gras sales are high at Trio, 24 to 30 % nightly. Caviar or some type of roe is always on one or more of the menus, it may be osetra, a beautiful trout roe from Michigan, an artisan steelhead roe for the same producer, bottarga, spicy cod roe, sea urchin which may or may not fall into this category. When in season black truffles are used generously, as well as whites. I feel very strongly about our preparations of foie gras. I feel we handle the product extremely well, and present it in creative ways. We use La Belle foie gras from the Hudson Valley. Although I can't say I sample french livers enough to be intimate with them, I feel La Belle produces a very high quality liver.

In closing, I feel the ingredients that fall into the luxury category are treated with the same respect and innovation that any other ingredient would be. We still approach the creation of dishes based on these ingredients the same way.


--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...