22 Sep 2020
In an enlightened society, especially in Franc, the home of classic cuisine, a chef is treated with same esteem as that of Philosophers, writers, Pope or “OUI Chef” is like a military bark and is the only talking allowed in front of a chef.
Military indeed. There is an obvious parallel between the hierarchy and discipline of an arm and of a serious professional kitchen.
Chef, remember, does not mean a cook, but a chief boss Chef directs and Cooks cook.
Chef Bocuse was not ashamed to admit that he long ago delegated the execution of his cooking.
Who does the cooking in my restaurant, when I am away, the same one who does it when I am here?
There are plenty of different routes, that leads to great cooking, but common to them all is this: the end results bears the unmistakable mark of chef’s personality, whether he is the one Who actually executes the dishes or not.
No great cook reaches the top without the inborn sense of esthetics that instinctively produces a pleasing, harmonious presentation on the plate.
During the service, chef directs his orchestra from the traditional position of the chef: Passe, the stainless steel platform where he received waiter’s order chits, and where the freshly prepared plates are set down beneath his eyes for a final once over before being confided to the waiters again for delivery. It is here that chef is at his most impossible and tyrannically perfectionist, because how could any imperfection escape the attention of all his colleagues, all the way down the line.
Chef can scan with his keen eyes to discover precisely the one dish where the wrong amount of parsley lies on a tiny portion of a tiny Remkin, then short stopping it and making the readjustment before allowing it to go. This is a mad idea of perfection that drives these characters, and sense the decades of experience that brought them to the almost spooky level of mastery that they demonstrate twice a day.
These chefs create the style and dictate the cuisine of their restaurant, but may not spend much time at all in the heat of the Kitchen, because that have formed the people who do that for them. They better do it right too, because these chefs expect very precise, flawless results and they know every thing there is to know about every last detail of their kitchen and dishes on their menus. That’s how they become chefs.
Chef insisted in total naked Kitchen and start all over again. He took pleasure in patrolling the cooking premises, reaching high up on shelves and into cupboards to ensure that some wise guy has not stocked away some food or sauce to be used again – just to save some time. This effort guaranteed that only the freshest and the best quality food finds its place on a patron’s plate.
Paul Bocuse, the ageless emperor of the French restaurant scene and chef point’s favorite apprentice remembered the great man “doing his daily marketing, selecting his fish, meat and fowl to be delivered to the cooks, waiting inn his kitchen.
No “what is to push today” make fresh clean start every morning.
How to cook an egg
Place a lump of fresh butter in a pan or Egg dish and let it melt – that is , just enough for it to spread and never of course to crackle or spit. Open a very fresh egg on to a small plate or saucer and slide it carefully in to the pan, cook it on a heat so low that white turns barely creamy and the yolk becomes hot but remains liquid. In a separate sauce pan melt another lump of fresh butter, remove the egg on to a lightly heated serving plate, salt it & pepper it and then very gently pour this fresh, warm butter on it.
Caution: Chef Bernard further added a word of caution to it: you must salt the white not the yolk, lest it leaves unsightly spots.
A chef circulating from table to table, chatting up the clients, grilling them about their preferences, then darting back to kitchen to inspect the plates returning from the dining room: What did he say, why did he not like it what were they eating, and what were they turning away. Why? After all “customer is a king, in other words “What have I done wrong”
As the apprentice start cleaning the kitchen, chef would post himself by the front desk to socialize with the departing clients.
Too much time in the disciplined, semi military brigades of the big kitchens had taught them to execute perfectly a number if gestures that by long established norms resulted in certain predefined dishes.
They were following the rules, not thinking, A typical chore of an apprentice : breaking up bones, adding aromatic and meat, fish or fowl trimmings, depending on the stock, then skimming, degreasing and adding water – cold water only, of course, to help congeal and separate out the fats.
Oyster from the Taj – that was level of responsibility
To be a good cook and less of a technician, use Best produce, no classical sauces, just deglazing and a little short Jus. Food had to be chewy and above all have taste, real firm strong taste
A chef would go to market three times a week, rise at 2 am to pick up the best fish, fruit and vegetables.
Everything is calculated, every slice of meat, vegetable, is pre-defined in thickness and weight.
Far more common at the three star level are larger military style brigade of seasoned specialist, each working a specific task under the absolute authority of a chef, who stands at the “passe” taking orders from waiters, inspecting and adjusting the finished products before passing them back out to waiters and generally coordinating the complex clockwork of men, machines and food stuffs lying behind a successful dish
It is a full time, crucial and devilishly tricky job, because the chef has to be intimately familiar with all the details of every post in the brigade and only his eye and perfectionism stand between a flop and a dazzle