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What menus Can Tell Us (but can't always do)


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I know some stuff about cooking in a restaurant and kitchens today don't work nearly as hard as they used to. Some of this is due to better technology, but mostly laziness and lowered expectations. (same as in any other area)

Those aren't the kitchens I'm referring to. Nor the workers I'm referring to - I'm talking about the people who actually work.

 

But I get your point.

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Those aren't the kitchens I'm referring to. Nor the workers I'm referring to - I'm talking about the people who actually work.   But I get your point.

Yes on one.   I'm not sure if the latter is true. Maybe when the cuisine is static and your grunt labour is free so your labour costs are fixed at zip, but would kinch say the kids at Manresa caref

Kinchs "dirt" isn't made from dirt.   The idea that kinch is glomming on to cheap ingredients is parody.

Frankly, I don't see what all this discussion "technique" has anything to do with the OP. Menus state what the menu writer wants to emphasize, not necessarily anything that matters to a diner except, maybe, what's in a dish (q.v. The Language of Food by Dan Jurafsky).

 

As for techniques: Have a look sometime at the techniques used by La Mère Brazier and pretty much any pre-nouvelle cuisine restaurant. Also at what the stagaires at ElBulli had to do. And at what Art Culinaire highlighted. Yes, I am pointing only to what I know from writings I have worked on. In that experience, there has been an arc from the most basic techniques to the most "scientific" and back again. But menus tell us none of this.

 

And I quite disagree with Robert's statement "almost no dishes created today will be passed along to other chefs and restaurants and handed down in the future." On the contrary, they will be imitated just as they always have been, at least those that the public approves. One function of Art Culinaire was to foster that transfer. And we have only to look at the bastardization of so many "haute" dishes on popular restaurant menus. Or the adoption from one "high-class" restaurant to another of various dishes (I'm thinking of a dessert I had to make that came from Gotham Bar & Grill, if not from somewhere before that.

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The technique discussion had to do with Wilfrids comment which was based on his review of what Robert posted. Some people think it's an interesting discussion. So they are talking about it.

 

As to your point, I half agree. I think we've moved to an era where the technical innovation has a longer legacy than the specific dish. It's unlikely that changs frozen foie, lychee peanut brittle dish will become part of the repatoire, but I've had the frozen shared foie technique in a half dozen dishes over two years.

 

(Though some dishes, like the gargouille, have entered the repatoire in a much more traditional way.)

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That's odd: I don't see any sauteeing going on with the appetizers, apart from the wild mushrooms. (ETA: Ah, you thought I was referring to the mains and desserts as well--no.)

Yes, I missed the "appetizers" in your earlier post.

 

Soups are all made ahead, as are pâtés, terrines, gelées, possibly the "lasagne" or at least its elements, which can then be assembled. Of course, salads are assembled and dressed at service, what special skills are needed? But I still don't see a lot of techniques needed on the line.

 

What techniques do you see that have to be applied à la minute? What besides turning a bouillon into a capuccino? Because, again: if it's made ahead, of course the techniques used can be complicated, but won't hold up service.

Well I didn't say anything about a la minute either.

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Because I believe it to be true?

 

I don't recall being stunned by the range of techniques at Per Se; I admit I don't know what EMP is up to these days.

I think it's more a question of how you feel about the techniques - i.e. Does the poached foie terrine with a malodextrine crumble, an agar gel and compressed (i.e. Sousvide but not cooked) melon with a house made brioche tickle you? How about when it's preceded by a variety of lightly cured or ages fish each with a different condiment (a miso variant, a stabilized purée, etc)

 

if anything, much of post-Adria/modernista fine dining is excessively technical (like isn't a big emp critique that it's 150 courses of technical pyrotechnics without much sense [smoked a la minute! Asparagus en vessie!]?).*

 

*which isn't a statement that classical French haute cuisine isn't obsessively technical because it is.

Where are you seeing modernist techniques in New York restaurants today?

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Because I believe it to be true?

 

I don't recall being stunned by the range of techniques at Per Se; I admit I don't know what EMP is up to these days.

I think it's more a question of how you feel about the techniques - i.e. Does the poached foie terrine with a malodextrine crumble, an agar gel and compressed (i.e. Sousvide but not cooked) melon with a house made brioche tickle you? How about when it's preceded by a variety of lightly cured or ages fish each with a different condiment (a miso variant, a stabilized purée, etc)

 

if anything, much of post-Adria/modernista fine dining is excessively technical (like isn't a big emp critique that it's 150 courses of technical pyrotechnics without much sense [smoked a la minute! Asparagus en vessie!]?).*

 

*which isn't a statement that classical French haute cuisine isn't obsessively technical because it is.

Where are you seeing modernist techniques in New York restaurants today?

 

Chang. EMP. Wrapping and holding BBQ brisket in a combi?

 

To get back to Ori's post, I'm guessing that the kids working at Le B, Daniel, EMP, GT, for the MFG, for B & B, etc. etc. aren't allowed to be lazy. Nor are they lazy at places like wildair - you know, places that are looking to make money and/or use the kudos they've earned to move on up.

 

Isn't there an old saying in the restaurant/bar biz about there always being something to do? Or, as my chefs used to say, if you're standing around doing nothing, you're fired.

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That's odd: I don't see any sauteeing going on with the appetizers, apart from the wild mushrooms. (ETA: Ah, you thought I was referring to the mains and desserts as well--no.)

Yes, I missed the "appetizers" in your earlier post.

 

Soups are all made ahead, as are pâtés, terrines, gelées, possibly the "lasagne" or at least its elements, which can then be assembled. Of course, salads are assembled and dressed at service, what special skills are needed? But I still don't see a lot of techniques needed on the line.

 

What techniques do you see that have to be applied à la minute? What besides turning a bouillon into a capuccino? Because, again: if it's made ahead, of course the techniques used can be complicated, but won't hold up service.

Well I didn't say anything about a la minute either.

 

Then what are you talking about? I'm lost.

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Everyone cooking modern food uses modernist technique to some extent. Emp, ko, per se, bf, atera will all use modernist technique to one extent or another. It's not a kind of restaurant anymore, it's baseline technique for modern cooking. I wouldn't be shocked if Daniel or jg had integrated those techniques by this point.

 

Eta: nix that. I had a red pepper espuma over halibut years ago.

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Then what are you talking about? I'm lost.

(T)he range of techniques implied among the appetizers is surely out of the range of any kitchen in NYC post-ADNY. Unless maybe Boulud is cooking you personally.

That's my entire statement.

 

Although I do now regret the implication that Boulud might cook someone.

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Everyone cooking modern food uses modernist technique to some extent. Emp, ko, per se, bf, atera will all use modernist technique to one extent or another. It's not a kind of restaurant anymore, it's baseline technique for modern cooking. I wouldn't be shocked if Daniel or jg had integrated those techniques by this point.

 

Eta: nix that. I had a red pepper espuma over halibut years ago.

As I said, I don't recall that at Per Se. I haven't been to the new iteration of Ko, but at the old one...well, freezing and then shaving a torchon of foie isn't what I think of as a challenging technique.

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