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Sweet Vs. Savory


cbarre02
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Recent menu reviews will show that many sweet items have made there way into savory dishes, and visa-versa. At what point does sweet become savory... savory become sweet... or does this not make a difference? Will there be a distinct definition between the two in our fine dining future, or will food just be food? Will the culinary chef and pastry chef labels become irrelevant, what term(s) will take there place?

Why must there be total devotion to one or the other, as chefs is it not our roll to learn as much about food (all food) as possible? I have recently made a very dessert oriented dish (in the way of presentation and technique), but with only savory ingredients. So what is it... I guess even I don't know.

Any foresight to this matter?

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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If you think about tagines made with dried fruits in North Africa and Iranian chicken recipes and such-like made with pomegranate syrup, not to mention the wide use of tomatoes and basil with pasta in Italian cuisine, or canard a l'orange and even the innumerable savory dishes made sweeter with the use of wine in French cuisine, you realize that the division between savory and sweet may not be operative in all cuisines, and is a matter of degree in others - or so it would seem to me.

Predicting what will happen in the future is not my strong suit, but in the present, does it really matter how something is categorized, as long as it's tasty and satisfies your customers?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I don't think that pastry chefs and "culinary" (your words) chefs will ever merge or become synonymous. A pastry chef to me is a chemist who practices art, whereas a chef is more of an artist who has a working knowledge of chemistry but, is not bound by it.

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I think the obvious answer is which ever is dominate, dictates which it belongs in. Theres a world of difference in whats exceptable in fine dinning verses dinning. Haute dinning is that- where anything and everything is explored. Fine dinning has already traveled down this road...they're blurring all the lines and inventing new paths.

I don't see the average dinner who runs to comfort foods as welcoming this. Although I've been places where their condiments like ketchup was so sickly sweet, that maybe they are already doing this. She writes sort of jokingly...

As far as pastry chef and chef becoming one person.....I don't think there are enough genuis's in this world entering the food profession that can do both. The knowledge involved in doing both well is staggering. Most chefs (average joe chefs)can barely do one well, those that do-engrose themselves in their work and have little time for anything else in their life. In addition the possiblity that the hot side chefs and pastry chefs brains seem wired differently makes the cross over even harder. Technically we should be a mesh of knowledge of both sweet and savory cooking to do our jobs well. Most chefs cross over (I worked on the hot side for years) with-out it being a big deal, but at least for me I discovered that one area interested me far more, thats why I choose to specialize.

I think you need to spell out exactly what your creation is, lets see if it falls into a catagory. Your descriptions of using a pastry like technique and presentation doesn't change the chemial make up of a savory into a sweet. It's sounds like a "faux" pastry thats a savory item.

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Recent menu reviews will show that many sweet items have made there way into savory dishes, and visa-versa. At what point does sweet become savory... savory become sweet... or does this not make a difference? Will there be a distinct definition between the two in our fine dining future, or will food just be food?

Mince pie. It's what's for dinner. And dessert.

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What about chefs practicing molecular gastronomy? Most of the applications would seem to lend themselves to the savory side of the line. Yet they are far more the "chemist" (your words) than I. How is this different?

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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The dish was:

Yellow Spit Pea & Monchego Semi Cruado Coulant (think warm chocolate cake, and yes I know that this is Michel Bras’ registered word)

Bacon Ice Cream, Bitter & Sweet Herbs

Mire Poix Caramel

I have been working on it for a while... it evolved from split pea soup that I made about a month ago. When it's cold it's solid, when warmed it' returned liquid state. I thought that it had the possibility so I’ve been working on it. I like the dish, the idea behind it, and the flavors involved. I guess I'm just leery of what others might think, and ask them selves too... is this savory or sweet?

Edited by cbarre02 (log)

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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To me, the distinction, for the most part, is the Pastry chef's arena is all items based on doughs and batters, and all items served as a dessert course.

The "Culinary" chef's arena is all items that are served before dessert, unless they involve doughs or batters, in which case the Pastry chef may be a collaborator (or may not).

But, there are never going to be, nor should there be hard and fast rules. Why should there be? It is only restricting to all involved at a certain point, rather than clarifying roles restrictions simply limit creativity on both sides.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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The ice cream is rather sweet, and the caramel is.... well clear caramel, just with mire poix flavor. The coulant however is savory through and through. I guess that I would not serve this as a dessert course (if there would be one at all?), but I don't know if I would serve it before a meat course either.

Wondering if one has a dish that is unusual, does it require the rest of the menu to be different too? Assuming it's a multi-course tasting menu, 8 or more.

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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  • 1 year later...

I came across this interesting topic while searching for another. I think it deserves resurrection.

My answer to this question is no, although the unusual dish should fit into an overall grand scheme. If it is totally out of left field and entirely inconsistent with the rest of the meal it would be jarring and there most likely unpleasant for or at best unappreciated by most people.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Recent menu reviews will show that many sweet items have made there way into savory dishes, and visa-versa.  At what point does sweet become savory... savory become sweet... or does this not make a difference?  Will there be a distinct definition between the two in our fine dining future, or will food just be food?  Will the culinary chef and pastry chef labels become irrelevant, what term(s) will take there place?

Why must there be total devotion to one or the other, as chefs is it not our roll to learn as much about food (all food) as possible?  I have recently made a very dessert oriented dish (in the way of presentation and technique), but with only savory ingredients.  So what is it... I guess even I don't know.

Any foresight to this matter?

The distinction between sweet and savory is merely an arbitrary one that shifts as fashionable. For all of history food has just been food. Apicius duck is sweeter than any traditional Roman dessert.

It is unlikely for the labels to be worn off soon, though el bullis incredible staying power at the top may prove to have more impact than anyone imagined. even gagnaires cookbook is titled salt and sugar; only the emphasis shifts, the core ingredients are irrelevant.

Albert gave a great demo where the audience was challenged to identify the sweet and savory courses. With modern aesthetic, the visuals can be the same.

A group of trained chefs with diverse backgrounds paired with imaginative consumers will dissolve this line.

Food thats more savory or sweet should only impact the arc of a menu

Even tradition acknowledges this ebb and flow of sugar and salt

Perception is reality.

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it seems to me that the customer's demand will directly determine the longevity of this movement and i would venture to say that it is largely industry folks' curiousity fueling the current trends. it is novel for us and i think that unfortunately too few have the talent/palate to execute timeless examples.

i can't imagine the labels fading into one (cook for example) anytime soon. there aren't enough "imaginative customers."

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one or three thoughts...

I think the only way to really get something as savory as a bacon dessert on a menu is to offer it in a degustation.

The customer is almost forced to take at least one bite, either to embrace or to push away.

I totally get bacon and sweetness.

I convinced the women I married that I was cool when we had bacon and pecan pie for breakfast once :biggrin:

Re: Gagnaire:

I 've been reading his 'Reflections On Culinary Artistry' down here in Miami and I can't put it down!

Between the pix and the descriptions of them, and what he says, his philosophy about food, I'm totally blown away.

I love the use of everything, the crossover of ingredients, and his freedom of adding to or subtracting something from a plate, no matter what the menu says, because it feels right then.

I was feeling this way in the last few months of my last gig, really feeling ingredients at the moment, and what they needed, what the plate wanted.

akwa, I getting some of those impressions with what you were doing at Cru, also.

2317/5000

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oh yeah, this is where I step in...so many comments.

First off, a very good friend of mine, Jon Beeaker, traveled all over Southeast Asia researching the cuisines. One dish that I absolutely love is a Vietnamese dish called Caramel Chicken. It's so damn good, you have to kill yourself when you eat it! (Big Night ref)

it is very spicy, sweet, sour, salty, your taste buds go insane, flitting back and forth between the flavors. Perfect example, just because it has sugar in it doesn't mean it's dessert.

Now for my part, I "go both ways" ~~sweet and savory. Plus bread!! I do all equally well. And bread to boot, I always considered that there were 3 types of division-- pastry chefs, chefs, and bakers. Now I am all three. I believe it is all a mindset. "I don't have the patience for it" blah blah blah. Wanna master something ? Read, research and develop. Bust out of that comfort zone where you know you are good at that One Thing. one thing ain't enough! Not in my book anyway.

This is one of the fun parts of owning my own place, and because it is a retail environment I have even more chances to play around and see what sells. Mix it up, and sell! I do a lot of savory bakery items as well as desserts. Quiche, savory puddings, tarts, tortes, pies,turnovers, strudels, empanadas, you name it. Plus a whole lunch menu, of soups, salads, panini, sandwiches etc. I get the full range.

I also mix stuff up in my bread. I currently have a very sour bread that I mix an apple compote into (apples, currants, cinnamon, walnuts) again, you palate is taken by surprise, you think it will be a sweet bread but oh no, baby- it's sour.with hints of fruitiness and nutty-ness. crossover. It's how good stuff is born. sometimes I see two sheetpans of random stuff stacked next to each other , and think, y'all need to hook up! thus a new creation is born.

I also poo-pooh the notion that baking is ALL science and chemistry, and not a freewheelin' art form.sure if we want to get technical, each and every part of cooking contains that. read your Harold McGee!!! but that you have to measure, weigh do everything so damn carefully, when you are learning how to do it -sure. once you've mastered, you can eyeball just as easily as cooking on the line and preparing savory dishes. don't even need recipes for a lot of stuff I do. Once I had an event for 500 people, I made Goat Cheese galettes with blood orange compote, I totally winged the filling, and ended up scraping the last bit out to complete the 500th tart. Eyeballin'!

It is possible. Don't box yourself in to set rules that are becoming passe'. Eliminating the stuffiness and historical formalities of Classic Cooking is up to us.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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I think it's going to be a looooooooooong time before the hot line and the pastry side merge, if ever. Diners are becoming more open to crossover dishes but they still like what they like. For my money, I'll try savory desserts and maybe even like them, but I probably would never make them for myself. Food is food, dessert is dessert, and only seldom the twain shall meet in my tummy.

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