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Any Cook Worth Their Salt Has Made ...?


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What recipes or dishes do you think any cook or chef worth their salt should have been required to make? Coq au vin? Hollandaise? A souffle? Scrambled eggs (the Gordon Ramsay test)? A foam or gel a la Ferran Adria (for modern times)? A clean plate (i.e. wash dishes - heh ;P)? Any and all fields of cooking (baking, pastry, etc.) qualify!

Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)
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Cook a steak, make a vinagrette, roast a chicken, mashed potatos, french fries, pasta with tomato sauce, poach a side of salmon, bake a pie, bake a cake, make a merengue, poach an egg, scramble an egg, soft boil an egg.

PS: I am a guy.

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Be able to chop an onion. Seriously. You'd be AMAZED how many people I have had to teach this simple task.

Also, know how to use a knife, and know how to keep a knife sharp.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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I think I would say...depends! Bet there are a lot of members who would say "cook rice well", or "roll sushi perfectly", or "make perfect pasta from scratch"...

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Pastry, no question.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Pate de campagne

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I think I would say stock, for one. It's a fairly involved and lengthy process, and it is a basic ingredient in so many foods. Gives one a deeper understanding of food and cooking.

Seconded.

At the same time, I understand Anna N's "depends!" A sushi chef is probably able to do things that a chef trained in classic French cuisine is not. A pastry chef might not be as skilled in the other side of the kitchen.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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What do you by a cook? Someone who can put together a divine dinner party for twelve, someone who can bang out 250 entrees in a two star, someone who can flip 800 eggs on a slamming brunch shift, someone who throws dough at a great pizza place, someone who gets up at 3 am., (god forbid) so we can have wonderful pastries?

These are all laudable talents. To me a good cook likes great ingredients, is willing to experiment, is not afraid to say they don’t know what they are doing, (or” f%*k I’m sooo in the F#@king weeds!”) and genuinely likes to make sustance that feeds both body and soul.

A good cook tastes what they are cooking from start to finish. They can smell whats going on in the pan. They can hear how the stock is doing on the back burner. They love how raw oysters and perfectly cooked ravioli feel. A well balanced plate is as visualy stunning as a Van Gough. They take a recipe and tweak it so it’s right for the occasion. They like the process of MAKING FOOD. Not reheating or compiling, but creating something that hits you on a visceral level.

A good cook makes you swoon with three things you have been eating all your life, but put togather in a new and suprising way. They just know whats right and they do it that way with no compromises.

They get off watching you quiver in ecstasy when you are eating their food.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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An omlette, the test; one can or one can't.

Yup. That was part of my interview when going out for my current job. The interview was at my employer's home, and when I walked in the door she handed me a pan, a spatula, showed me where the refrigerator was, and said, "Please make me breakfast. I want an omlette." I was TERRIFIED. But I clearly pulled it off as I sit here today an employeed member of society.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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A good cook tastes what they are cooking from start to finish.  They can smell whats going on in the pan.  They can hear how the stock is doing on the back burner. They love how raw oysters and perfectly cooked ravioli feel. A well balanced plate is as visualy stunning as a Van Gough.  They take a recipe and tweak it so it’s right for the occasion. They like the process of MAKING FOOD. Not reheating or compiling, but creating something that hits you on a visceral level.

A good cook makes you swoon with three things you have been eating all your life, but put togather in a new and suprising way.  They just know whats right and they do it that way with no compromises.

They get off watching you quiver in ecstasy when you are eating their food.

:wub:

I agree totally. Forgive me for continuing off the topic, but what a lovely description of a cook.

It is about the making; the smell and feel and the creation and definately the pleasure you give to others.

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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I don't understand why making scrambled eggs or an omelet would be used as a test for a cook. Is it to weed out the completely incompetent (like that shmuck at Bonaparte's in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares)? I don't find it difficult - scramble eggs, cook in pan until it's not watery but not rubber either. Perhaps it's the finer points - removing the eggs from the pan just before they're done, and whether you scramble the eggs in a bowl or in the pan (what GR recommends, IIRC). I found hollandaise considerably more challenging to make the first few times, and every once in a while it makes you feel like a novice by breaking or otherwise not coming out right.

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I think egg dishes - scrambles and omelettes are considered "tests" for cooks cos they test a range of skills in one cheap and quick dish. Theres the obvious hand skills in achieving texture/appearance, timing skills in not over or under cooking, heat managing skills, then the even more obvious ones of seasoning and garnishes ie cream, herbs, how much butter/oil is used etc. And lastly basic presentation skills.

So that would be a great skill test. But in terms of where the cook is in terms of their "cooking" as a separate identity from their skill, but rather as an expression of their "style" or culinary and artistic ethos, perhaps something more substantial like a roast chicken would be a better "test"?

Basically, theres more than one type of skill to test, altho I've simplified them into 2 obvious aspects, theres a lot more to it probably...

My tuppence worth, cheers

Raj

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For a Chef, Hollandaise, Coq au vin, a vinagrette, an omelette -- although since I heard of this "test" of a chef, it has always bugged me that it is such a damn set-up for failure. An omelette is just eggs. And that's fine. But what if I was put to such a challenge? I don't like overcomplicating things, but hey, I can't see me making an omelette without some smoked gouda and a few slivers of red onion.

That's hard -- I don't know how to test a Chef.

A cook, I guess the best test is -- can she/he make something you enjoy eating?

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For me, I think it is this: can the cook take the ingredients available and produce something which both sustains and satisfies the eaters. The reason I choose this definition is because it encompasses the preparation of food in all cultures and at all times. Sometimes we narrowly think only of someone cooking with abundant food/equipment at his disposal, which of course has not been the case for the majority of people throughout history. This definition allows the villager in a hut to be a cook as well as the chef in a starred restaurant.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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What's the kitchen look like when the prima dona is done all this fabulous cooking? That's a big test for me.

For me, I think it is this:  can the cook take the ingredients available and produce something which both sustains and satisfies the eaters.  The reason I choose this definition is because it encompasses the preparation of food in all cultures and at all times.  Sometimes we narrowly think only of someone cooking with abundant food/equipment at his disposal, which of course has not been the case for the majority of people throughout history.  This definition allows the villager in a hut to be a cook as well as the chef in a starred restaurant.

very well put, both of y'awl...

milagai

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A perfectly executed brown sauce (as in Escoffier's Espagnole) took me awhile to master, as an amateur, but once accomplished, I could do any of the basic sauces. Except Mayonnaise. Sometimes it works perfectly, other times I struggle with it, as there is little consistency with the eggs, temperature, and oils in my kitchen. So regrettably I always keep Hellman's on hand.

Nicely grilled fish, or, especially, truite au bleu, always impresses me in a restaurant. It has to be as good as the fresh fish shown to me swimming in a bucket, under a thatch canopy by the Pacific in Oaxaca, with a pig and chickens underfeet, that came back perfectly fried in lard by the peasant cook/owner. They didn't have much to work with, but did it well.

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Know how to turn out a good roast. Chicken is a common one but roasts are done in nearly all cultures.

Know how to braise or poach or stew protein. It's another one that's done in all cultures.

Know how to do basic stock. Veal, chicken, beef, duck, doesn't matter. Know how the technique works for at least one, preferably more. To go along with this, know how to produce at least one flour thickened stock based sauce.

Know how to do basic chopping. Yes, onions are a common tricky one, but knife skills are knife skills. Drill long enough and it comes naturally.

Know how to produce a basic egg dish. Omlets are common, but poached eggs, shirred eggs, fritattas and hard boiled eggs all have their fine points too. Also, know how to produce at least one egg yolk thickened sauce.

Know how to turn out a "dessert" ingredient. If you can do pie crust, crepes, a good cake batter or some other primal dessert building material, making desserts becomes doable. Even if all your desserts are variations on gateaux des crepes and crepes suzette, you're still ahead of the game.

The recipes and techniques alone are not enough. Once you've got them down, you need to *practice*. So eating a proper meal, with at least one vegetable dish, at least one protein dish and at least one dessert every day becomes the other part. You need the daily drill of getting the parts of the meal onto the table in the right order. The kind of practice appropriate for a home kitchen is much less stressful than for a restaurant kitchen where you're feeding 200 covers a night, but you still need the pieces to go together in the right order.

Emily

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