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Are there any such French Chefs?


Suvir Saran
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Which French chefs living today would you think of when wanting to name French chefs that have mastered the art of cooking with Indian spices?

Are there any such chefs?

Where do they practice?

What have they done with spices that is new?

Have they used any age old secrets known to Indian grandmas in their own kitchens? How did they find out these secrets? Are there books that share them?

Are there books that these French chefs have written which detail this journey into the world of spices?

Do spices even matter to the best of these chefs?

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Your question seems to assume that there would be value in a French chef doing that. Where would the value be to a French chef and why would that be valuable to people who patronize French restraurants? I mean, why didn't you ask if there were any French chefs who have mastered Chinese wok cooking?

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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Dunno if it counts but Eric Chavot (of ** Capital) was closely involved in the launch of the Cinnamon Club in Lundun

Jon, Chavot was brought in to The Cinnamon Club to advise on food presentation, not on the actual cooking. All he did was advise them to present Indian food as though it was haute French food as far as I could see.

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La Chamarre in the 7th district of Paris? They recently got one star, and the cuisine is French/Mauritian, with one French chef and one Mauritian chef...

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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You mean Indian chefs aren't experts in presentation? Sacre bleu. Certainly there must be some Indian chef who stole the presentation secrets of the famous grand meres. In fact my grand mere (except in my house we called her Bubby because we made believe we were Jewish,) a famous French chefsused to drop by her tenament apartment on the Lower East Side all of the time to get tips on the secrets of haimische cooking from her. In fact, more then 60 years later, the vibes in that apartment were so strong that they opened up 71 Clinton Fresh Foods on that block. No joke. That was the block she lived on. And though she swore me to secrecy about it, since she has been dead for more then 30 years, I am now going to reveal the name of the French chef who used to visit her for tips.

Fernand Point

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I'm sure that many great French chefs have mastered any number of cooking techniques and traditions, either incorporating them into their cooking, or for the sheer knowledge and experience. Many of these subtle "experiments" may be tasted in the cuisine of chefs like Gagnaire or Ducasse. As an interesting aside, Pascal Barbot of L'Astrance has an Israeli,a Japanese, and a South American in his kitchen. But the diners marvel at the latest wonderboy of French gastronomy... Just goes to show you how diverse and wonderful contemporary cuisine is, and how many disparate influences may combine to create an enjoyable dinner...

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Are French chefs going to Bombay to stage?

Maybe not to stage but many French chefs are very vocal about their treks around Asia and how the foods they ate their have made them re think their own cuisine and use of ingredients etc. etc,.

Trouble is I wish they wouldn't. French chefs are steeped in a certain style of cooking and more aspects than not of that style are not conducive to Asian influences, ingredients and techniques. The best French chefs recognize this and allow Asian influences into their style very minimally, if at all.

To me, if ever I see the words "curry epices" on a French menu I walk on by.

As for Senderens, he may have got the idea in Sri Lanka but since everything he cooked had half a bucket of cream in it it kind of negated the influence.

(I put that in the past tense. I am right in thinking Senderens is no longer with us am I? Or am I mixing him up with another top chef?)

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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Last I heard, Senderens was still alive and cooking at Lucas Carton...

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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He said he didn't mean Loiseau..

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Trouble is I wish they wouldn't. French chefs are steeped in a certain style of cooking and more aspects than not of that style are not conducive to Asian influences, ingredients and techniques. The best French chefs recognize this and allow Asian influences into their style very minimally, if at all.

Well we've gone round this one already. A western idea of balance in cuisine subordinates spicing to ingredients. So to the extent that the original question applies, the answer is probably no. Western chefs who do use spicing as a more central part of their cuisine, like Rocco DiSpirito, are still not what I would call spice based chefs. It's still just a way to accentuate, not something to build a meal around. That was the import I got from Suvir's original question. Which French )let's expand that to western) are "expert" (meaning feature spicing as the central focus) of their cuisine.

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But Western chefs use herbing routines in their dishes all the time. They do not see this as an issue of being " subordinate to the ingredients" And before you reply that herbs are more "subtle" than spices I would argue that those Easten chefs who use spices in a galumphing way which dominates the ingredients are not very good chefs. Spices can be just as subtle as herbs in the hands of a cook that knows what she/he's doing.

But to me its not just about spices. Eastern and Western cuisine differ in several fundamental ways apart from spice use. Western chefs are just not steeped in Eastern cusine styles and vice versa. It's like asking a great Western classical guitarist to play an Indian sitar raga. He may be able to copy it note for note if he's good but he can't achieve the same "feel" as a top sitarist who has lived all his life with the music can.

So in the end why go and see a Western guitarist play a raga when you can see an Indian sitarist play one? I think Western chefs should leave spices alone. Apart from black pepper they do not understand them and I think its a mistake if they feel they need to learn to use them in order to enhance their cusine. All it does is jar incongruously, as a mornay sauce would with Sushi.

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It is the intensity of the spicing and herb routines that is the issue. In European cuisine they use them both lightly. That is not the case in many Asian cuisines including Indian. As for the rest of your post, gee I hope that doesn't happen. The best world to live in is a world full of diversity. One of the best things about diversity is that people create new ways to express themselves based on old cultures and traditions. To say that the end result is that someone will play a raga on their Fender electric is a simplistic example. But there are great examples of diversity, like jazz and rock and rolll. Or should we have told those blues musicians to have stuck to African drum beats and not progress by incorporating traditional American rhthms into their music?

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Your question seems to assume that there would be value in a French chef doing that. Where would the value be to a French chef and why would that be valuable to people who patronize French restraurants? I mean, why didn't you ask if there were any French chefs who have mastered Chinese wok cooking?

Steven did you not read the last sentence of my post????

" Do spices even matter to the best of these chefs?"

I am not assuming anything.

I did not suggest anything.

I only asked questions.

No judgment was made for or against the use of spices.

But if you have any clue about any French chef using spices, or being interested in doing so, please share that feedback. I hope we do not get derailed in an unending agruement about which cuisine of the world is superior ...that is not information I want or need.

I am trying to work on a piece that involves my locating French chefs that have worked with spices and created a cuisine that is uniquely their own while borrowing from the world of spices.

I am not going to make any assumption that the process of adding spices to their repertpoire has made them better or worse as chefs. I need to only find these chefs. And it is at that point that my learning process shall begin. :smile:

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Sorry Suvir. Your question seemed to have more load then that. You should contact Rocco DiSpirito as he uses spices more then any other chef I know. In fact, I can't think of another chef that really uses spices in a big way. I guess there are people like Norman Van Aiken who have integrated spicing routines like Adobo and other latino spicing routines into French technique. Lety me see if I can think of others for you.

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I am not looking only for names of chefs that rely heavily (not even sure there any of these. I am not assuming spices make this cuisine better. Clarifying so my words are not creating any confusion) on eastern spices, but even those that have made flirtations with them... perhaps even only for some time. They could have gone back to non-spice based cuisine, or could have incorporated them into their genre... All I need are names of French chefs that have been open to experimenting with them.

If there are some that are famous, even better for me.

I am working on a non-food related project for which this is part of my research. When and if I do write my paper, those that have helped me here, will certainly be mentioned.

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Sorry Suvir. Your question seemed to have more load then that. You should contact Rocco DiSpirito as he uses spices more then any other chef I know. In fact, I can't think of another chef that really uses spices in a big way. I guess there are people like Norman Van Aiken who have integrated spicing routines like Adobo and other latino spicing routines into French technique. Lety me see if I can think of others for you.

Thanks Steve!

Rocco would not qualify.

I need French chefs based and practicing or who practiced in France.

If they have books out, even better.

The chefs do not need to have "mastered" the usage of spices, if they have, even better... but I am not sure if spices matter to this genre of chefs. But this will be a learning and documenting process for me... so I am looking to learn...

And thanks for your help Steve... I appreciate all the help I can get here.

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But there are great examples of diversity, like jazz and rock and rolll.

I was thinking more of R&B and Blues songs covered by white artists in the sixties. I mean the Stones did passable versions of "I Just Want To Make Love To You" and "Little Red Rooster" but once you've heard the Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf versions-well why bother listening to the Stones do them?

I feel that way about French chefs and spices. Why bother?

Suvir, I'm pretty sure in the UK there are no French chefs who use spices to any significant degree. There are some Western chefs-David Thompson of Nahm, Peter Gordon of Providores and that Jean George guy who heads up Vong-who have made a feature either of Eastern( not Indian) cooking, or incorporating Eastern ingredients and processes into their cuisines. But French and French styleBritish chefs largely leave spices alone (very wisely IMO).

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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