I read far too many food related articles, blogs, and other people’s ruminations. I ponder each gem wondering if this is the next craze, chef, or food to note. There are times however when I step back and reflect on what is being said. A subconscious knee jerk occurs as I push back from the rising tide of culinary sensationalism.
In an article titled “Rock Star Chefs” by Katy McLaughlin in www.onlinewsg.com 10.2.09; she explores the rock star status that chefs are attaining today. This isn’t rocket science. We’ve seen this rolling tsunami, flood the culinary scene with chefs turn celebrity, chef market food; wannabes reach chef stardom, and random failed restaurants. What has this done to elevate truly excellent cooking and passion in the masses?
RR in her own way ( and believe me I hate to give a nod to her slap dash in your face recipes and sloppy presentations and verbiage) we find her at least careening around a kitchen and squatting in front of a ridiculous oven to yank out broiled food. She doesn’t try to hob knob with the likes of Chef Eric Ripert and when she was on an Iron Chef Cook-off a few years ago seemed quite humbled and realistically out of her depth.
There was a quote in the article from used to be chef, and now resident culinary journalist Mr. Anthony Bourdain mentioning that he did 25 live appearances and will up it to 40 next year because the majority of his do$ re$ mi$ comes from these dog and pony shows. He did one last year here in my fair city on the edge and some close friends of mine went. When queried, they said his one man show was good when he was reciting his shtick but when the show was opened to questions from the masses it fell like a deflated soufflé. Everyone wanted to have a little one-on-one even if the question had been asked before or wasn’t relevant.
Hurling bras on the stage? (Guy Fieri) “Garnishing” a bald headed person in the audience with whipped cream and licking it off? (Paula Deen) What the flying wazoo has happened to cooking demonstrations?
Today “Bam!” is so innocent with everyone jamming food in their faces, ooze dripping down, and orgasmic grunting sounds.
My eyes welled when I saw that Chef Jacques Pepin, Chef Eric Ripert, and Mr.Tony Bourdain were going to do a three act celebrity chefs series in Miami.What is the world coming to? The last 3 act I remember was the 3 Stooges on black and white t.v.
I have seen Chef Pepin do several demonstrations alone and with Julia Child in his prime I thought of him as a human cuisinart in precision. The minimum of movement for maximum results exuded what it is to be a truly efficient chef. His La Technique and La Methode were seminal books that enticed me to pursue a culinary career.
I watched a Chef Ripert demonstration when he was on the cusp of “stardom” and felt the same reverence for his craft. I ate at his restaurant and although I am not stupid enough to think that he was dipping his finger in each sauce before it went out I felt his exactitude conveyed to the staff both front of the house and back of the house. His cookbooks exude a love for ingredients and a masterful execution of dishes. He's a pro!
Mr. Bourdain? His Kitchen Confidential was an Upton Sinclair for the restaurant industry. His stories were far too true and made me wince remembering the wild west days of the restaurant industry. These were stories I never even shared with my NSSP and here they were in print for the masses. He was a bad boy chef who worked hard and bailed out. He still has this fantasy that he is part of the trenches but this image can only be seen through rose colored glasses and a softened memory bank. His prose are acerbic and spot on but he’s strayed. New books have been shelved for live appearances. How many bugs and offal can he eat with the natives? Even that gets old.
I haven’t even mentioned the groupies who follow these people around and eat food prepared by more wannabe cooking school cheflets using the “God’s “ recipes. Kind of like buying a print of Picasso when he's in the room.
Call me old fashioned but I want to be inspired and learn from a cooking demonstration or show. It’s not good enough to see someone washing their hands 5 times and opening packages. How about some interesting technique with a properly set table and a plate with a reasonable portion?
I guess it’s time to throw in a Julia Child DVD and go down memory lane.