Can A Classical Dish Be Altered If The Name Clearly Indicates That The Dish Is ” In The Style Of… “

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Dear Friend’s,

Below find a few recent comment’s by passionate and no doubt competent chef’s.
Some apparently look at thing’s more flexible then others, some might understand the context of a specific situation better than others (in this case, a lighthearted, food loving Blog by a chef who has probably seen it all and understands that different situations sometimes call for different measures. Because I am so passionate about food, I’d like to hear other folk’s opinion about this, because it comes up quit often across the food world. At this point, it is not important to me if I am right or wrong, I just want to take this opportunity to hear other’s opinions about this important, sometimes so hotly discussed matter. And what about fusion cooking………?
Please share your opinion in the Poll at the bottom of this page.
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Picture source: dreamstime.com

In our LinkedIn group “Master Chefs” ,

esteemed chef George Hill commented on a name I have given to a dish:

” Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese “

“Chefs please keep to the original intent and interpretation of a classical culinary name of a preparation. This is important to all and the profession in a global sense. Bolognaise is meat – I believe Spaghetti Bolognaise needs to be meat based to ensure clients understand this globally no matter where they are. We need to be careful with contradictions in terms.

This is more of a version of a Napolitana but even more accurate would be to name
Spaghetti: Minestra – Verdura – Ortaggio – Olegumi etc or others?”

My response :

Dear George,

I agree with you 100% in the principle of keeping originals original  J.
However, in light of the many millions of vegetarians who grace our  restaurants on a daily basis, they will no doubt ( as I have experienced around the world for decades) understand exactly what is offered :
A meatless ragout of vegetables in the Bolognese style.

I believe sometimes we have to serve our guest’s by keeping things simple.

Nowadays, unfortunately, most guests (and many so called chef’s) are not as educated in classic cuisine as we wish they were. I believe to simplify is to help them start their education.

Other examples:

Macadamia nut “pesto”,

Lobster “sausage”

Cauliflower “risotto”

Deconstructed “hummus”

I am not a fan of these names but I can accept them, as well as many others, as long as their stray from the original is clearly expressed in the dish’s name. (Back to ” VEGETARIAN bolognese “)

In the group American Culinary Federation,
esteemed chef Larry Dann commented on the same dish dish:

Hey Hans,
Bolognese is by definition a hearty sauce with meat. Either Italian (ragu) or French (ragout). Just messin’ with ya. LOL. Sounds good!
Larry

My response:

Thank’s Larry.

I think just about everybody interested in food knows that.
I just did a little word game, did not expect this to get all that flag for it
(I published this in 20 groups, found only a few folk’s without humor or tolerance :-(
Life is to short to be uptight :-)
Cheers !

Larry wrote:

That is true. If we can’t have a little fun with it why do it….?

My response :

There you have it  :-)

On another dish, “ Coq au Vin 
esteemed chef Patrick Asfaux commented :

bonjour
Que d’erreurs !!!!!!!!!
le coq au vin se fait avec du coq de 3 a 4kg et non avec un poulet la chair doit être ferme regardez ma recette mise sur votre blog tous les présidents l’ont testé dans notre restaurant parisien
translate please
best regards
Chef Patrick Asfaux 30 ansétoilé Michelin

My response :

Hi Patrick,

I am sure that most chef’s around the world are educated enough to be aware that Coq in French means rooster, therefore classically coq au vin – rooster in wine.

(Literal translation : Coq au vin – Rooster of the wine)

Most chefs around the world use chicken for two reasons :
“Coq au vin” is a very popular dish because of the cooking method, the sauce and the garnish. It is being served at some venues for hundreds and even thousands of guests at the same time. To source this amount of roosters would simply be impractical if not outright impossible.
I have worked in many countries around the world, mostly in five star operations. While at some places it is easy to source roosters, at others it is just too impractical or cost prohibitive. I try to keep my Blog light and practical, so that professional chefs can smile about some of the things I do and suggest, while less experienced cooks, hobby cooks and housewives will be able to easily re-create the recipes, maybe even applying their own twist.
I have been teaching at le cordon bleu for nearly eight years, classical French and international cuisine and when I was teaching about classical French dishes I made always sure that I teach these with the revered respect and quality they deserve. I have always tried to make sure the students understand the difference between a classic dish and one that is prepared ” in the style of ”
And I too have cooked for a # of presidents and royalty over the years, no biggie there.
Anyway, I do appreciate every single comment and critique,
so thank you and please stay with us.
Your input is highly appreciated.

Happy Bastille Day !   (Try :-))
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8 comments on “Can A Classical Dish Be Altered If The Name Clearly Indicates That The Dish Is ” In The Style Of… “

  1. Chef Jack Ferneley says:

    As my career forte and proclivities are firmly entrenched in French Regional and Provencal cuisines, I am reticent to embrace anything remotely ‘vegetarian’. Even five years ago you would be hard pressed to find a purely Vegan-inspired restaurant of any description in all of Paris. I’m sure today this is no longer the case; however, I feel the French will never be truly satisfied gastronomically without meats, poultry or sea food represented somewhere on their plates at meal times.

  2. George Hill says:

    Hi Hans,

    I agree “in the style” could be used as a metaphor in some cases to suggest a similarity to a preparation, texture, service method or other. My personal opinion is simply; when the operative word “Bolognaise” is used I believe it should include a base of meat. This is really very small point and in my opinion the least of our worries about the future of commercial cookery.

    So many unqualified people have hijacked the term “chef’ because its seen to bring with it a respectable image, so many chefs do not care about their professional appearance, so many chefs call them selves unwarranted titles such as “executive chefs” and only operate a kitchen brigade of two, so many menus with blatant spelling errors, and more.

    Love your posts, as you make people think – Especially in theses days where new age chefs unfortunately have gone way over board with artistic licence especially in menu descriptions.

    About 6 years ago wrote about this problem and that article led to a number of interesting comments from chefs on the same topic.
    http://chefpedia.org/wiki/index.php?title=When_a_windyloo_is_meant_to_be_a_Vindaloo

    I believe a classical dish should not be renamed unless there is a change in its fundamental preparation, garnish or style. This however is not a great issue because as we know descriptions have replaced classical names. What is more of a concern is keeping the menu descriptions sensible EG twice cooked ceviche style is a blatant contradiction. “Cartoccio” why not use the recognized en Papillote, or blue eye “ragu” why not use more appropriate matelote? “Marinated” pears in Cointreau, fruits are not marinated they are macerated

    May be you could ask on your blog for examples of silly descriptions.

    Look forward to your next blog article.

  3. Hans Susser says:

    Dear Jack,
    although my heart and soul agrees with you, …….

    • Hans Susser says:

      George, somehow I think we are on the same page.
      I will pursue your suggestions further.
      Thank you.
      Hans.

      • matt bogie says:

        I think some people read to far in to your dish name. When I read “Vegetarian Bolgnaise” I understood that there was no meat and there would be a sauce of vegetables instead. Yes this post comes from a non-classicaly trained cook. So if you are trained then how is this hard to understand. Oh well, if you don’t get it you probably never will.

  4. Hans Susser says:

    You are so right Matt :-)

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