2月 29, 2008
2月 28, 2008
Not a snob
Although this book is called Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, Anthony states at the beginning of the book that this is, in fact, not a cookbook. He goes on explaining that most of the recipes he includs in the book are pretty classic and they can easily be found elsewhere. What makes this book worth $25 bucks is that it's these recipes that make Les Halles one of the best bistros in the U.S. of A. And of course, having the recipes doesn't mean anything--it involves a lot more than just the written words to create something brilliant for the stomach. It's good that Anthony goes through the tips on how to get each individual dish done right.
I also learned to view what I am doing now at work differently: preparing mise en place is actually an exciting process. True, it's repetitive and not so much fun comparing to working on the line, but think about it--I am "transforming a big heap of raw ingredients into an organized array of useful foodstuff".
And that is exciting.
And throughout the book Anthony encourages his readers to get cheap and ordinary ingredients and try to turn those into fabulous food. For example, he uses "hanger steak" as the main ingredient if one of his dishes. As you know, the butcher used to bring the hanger steak home just because they can't be sold for a lot of money, yet that's one of the best parts of the creature as it has ropy texture and kidneyish flavor. And in the fish section he asks us to try making something useful out of fish heads--something that normally got thrown away in a French or western kitchen.
I totally agree with Anthony... a cook should not be a snob.
A man who is rich in his adolescence is almost doomed to be a dilettante at the table. This is not because all millionaires are stupid but because they are not impelled to experiment.
---A. J. Liebling
2月 26, 2008
今天回學校幫忙「Chefs in the city」，遇見了比我小十多年的 Vicky Cheng。他年紀輕輕便贏了很多比賽，更在 Auberge du Pommier 做 Junior Sous Chef，更會很快轉到 Canoe 幫忙。原來他在 Auberge du Pommier 做了六年的時間。
好一個六年，才做到 Sous，對於年過三十的我，真是遙不可及的付出，何況我可能要用更長的時間，也別想可以像 Patricia Yeo，在十年內可以做 chef owner 了．．．
2月 23, 2008
2月 21, 2008
Actually I thought of doing something more interesting, like putting in cheese instead of black sesame, and use basil oil, tomato, and squid ink to color the dough... haha, yup, it's like an Italian style 湯圓.. or ravioli to be exact :P
2月 18, 2008
When shall we live....
... if not now? (Serve it Forth, M.F.K. Fisher)
The Culinary Artistry ends with this quote, which I found very meaningful.
Another one I like is:
"Through a dining experience, people will connect and share and exchange and support and heal and do all the things that people crave. They reaffirm that life is worth living. And they live." O'Connell
I guess that's part of what I am hoping for if I ever had my own restaurant--be it just a sandwich and soup take-out, that holistic approach should be followed... After all, taste is a sense that is rather social, isn't it?
Unfortunately most of the Chinese restaurants are doing exactly the opposite. The past weekend I dine out with my family in a local Chinese restaurant. Taste-wise the food is OK, particularly when you consider the price. However you need to wait for more than half an hour in a cramped doorway interfered by waitresses cutting your way from time to time. And once you were seated, you need to finish the dinner in a very noisy environment in a fast paced manner. And not to mention that whenever you ask for something the waitress will reply by saying nothing but showing you her face like that of a horse... Oh well, Chinese has a very different philosophy--with good food and price, your customers will keep coming back.
Cost control... that's exactly an important thing that is missing from the Culinary Artistry, which is a collaboration of more than 30 leading chefs, in terms of designing a menu and the holistic dining experience.
2月 17, 2008
Composing a menu
Yup, but only for a school project. We were asked to work on four à la carte menus for the four seasons respectively. At a first thought it's pretty straight forward for an imaginative restaurant--all I could do is put on the the dishes I like from various restaurants, and at most I can make the menus more coherent by coming up with a theme.
Well, after reading the book Culinary Artistry I have a second thought. Here's a quick list of what I learned from Chapter 10, Composing a Menu:
1. First of all, the menu is the contract between you and the customers, so what you better bring the right things with the precise doneness.
2. Using seasonal ingredients is very important.
3. Know your audience--what your clients usually want to get?
4. Consider a themed menu.
5. Consider the pacing of courses, the progression of flavors and other relationship between every single dish. When and how do you build the climax? And how do you calm down the customers?
6. Think about this: are the dishes on a menu overlapping in flavour, taste, or texture?
7. Be careful of the wordings--pair them accurately.
8. If wine is a big thing in your restaurant, pair food to wine and not vice versa.
9. Think about logistics for the back of the house--don't rely too much on one single station.
10. Quality consistency is very important. Test, and re-test your recipes before you put in on the menu.
11. If you have to repeat the main ingredients of a dish throughout the year, think about using seasonal garnishes.
12. Diversify your menu, have enough variety to satisfy various customer's needs.
13. Consider signature dishes, set up restaurant identity. Do not change the menu so drastically that makes the restaurant loses its character. Customers need to be familiar with what they get. It's time to open up another restaurant when you need a big change.
2月 15, 2008
結果，做了兩個多小時的 observation shift 後，一條 technical question 也沒有問。
工作地點是 Oliver Bonacini cafe.grill，跟多倫多著名的 Canoe 屬同一個集團。
接見我的 Chef Ward 很好。他原先要找可以在週日上班的人，但因為我還要上學的關係，他也安排我在週末上班。
我的工作大概是打雜，從基層做起。但希望很快可以成為 line cook。
當然囉，更好的是 chef apprentice。
標籤： Chef school
2月 14, 2008
I'm listening to "香格里拉" again... it seems to have some kind of magic power that can comfort me.