.Michel Bras’ gargouillou, which René Redzepi has called one of the most copiedDear Friend’s
If you think the picture above shows a pretty presentation and is worth to pay a few bucks for in a nice restaurant, so that you have something to nibble on until the real food arrives, then we speak the same language.
If, on the other hand, you think this represents culinary art, innovation, and groundbreaking plating technique, we might not be from the same planet.
Here is what has started to tick me off lately:
A spectacle is being made by a bunch of chef’s about copy protecting recipes, cooking techniques, plating details, and styles. One recent headline on “Eater” read:
” Inspiration and Attribution in Cooking:
How and When Should Chefs Credit Their Sources? ”
What a tremendous load of bullcrap !
It is one thing to credit your sources for a “unique” recipe, technique, idea and/or influence out of respect and good manners.
It is a whole other story to, as some donkey’s now do, “demand” credit for something that has been around for years, decades or even centuries.
Lot’s of chef’s nowadays call themselves innovators, visionaries, inventors, when all they do is change, grow, and, hopefully, refine established ideas, techniques, method’s and ingredient’s.
– Fried Hollandaise ? Hollandaise has been around for a long time, folks. Frying , too !
– Foraging for food ? Come on guys, even my great great great great great… grandfather was foraging for food.
– Food trucks ? Been around for decades in Europe, (See also food carts in other parts of the world)
– Elaborate presentations? Medieval cuisines started that trend.
– Use of the whole animal? Come on, really?
– Sprinkle a few leaves, herbs and edible flours on a plate “painted” with a sauce or coulis? Ask your twelve-year-old to give you a hand.
While there are without a doubt a few (very few) chefs’s out there who are true innovators, artist’s and culinary visionaries, the majority of dishes, techniques, presentation, ingredients, and combinations, have been around forever. Some have come and gone, some have looked and tasted a bit different, some have not been as popular and many have come from other parts of the world and simple been introduced to an unknowing group of people who did not travel or frequent ethnic restaurants (or food trucks) and were therefore never introduced to stuff which was already well established elsewhere.
Now, just imagine to take this nonsense a step further and contemplate the following:
Every time you write a menu, you give credit to the creator of the tomato soup, baked potato, grilled steak, poached fish, lemon wedge, compound butter, turning spaghetti with a fork, sprinkling cheese on top of pasta, a ham & cheese sandwich, blanching and shocking in ice water, decorating your pudding with whipped cream (EXTRA credit if you add vanilla, extra-extra credit if you add sugar, extra extra extra credit if you call it Chantilly) Where would it start? I certainly could never end and be nothing but a pointless exercise. Professional chefs are well aware of the names of the creators of certain dishes, techniques, even garnishes (Melba, Célestine, Grand-Mère, Café de Paris), but in my humble opinion the names of these creators and innovators are still alive today because what the have created was worthwhile to cherish, admire, look at and most of all, eat, eat and eat again !
Ahhh, a little venting does one good 🙂
Bon Appetit ! Life is Good !