In Your Own Words - The start of things to come Blog at Allrecipes.com - 189656

The start of things to come

In your own words 
 
Aug. 10, 2010 12:08 pm 
Updated: Aug. 17, 2010 11:30 pm
I enjoy reading and hearing peoples feedback on many different things. Everyone from people who have worked in kitchens for 25+ years all the way down to the newest cooks. SO here is your chance to speak your mind on the things..yes you the reader, that are going on in the world of food. Perhaps this is almost a blog within a blog.

What do you think is missing in today's culinary world?
 
Do you think that there is enough education in any level of schooling to help understand nutrition and basic culinary knowledge?
 
Are chef's (within their field) given enough, too much or not enough respect for what they do?
 
If schools offer any health/nutrition classes, should they also include cooking and preparation as part of the course study?
 
Who is your culinary hero? (family member, celebrity chef, teacher, etc.)

Just a few questions that come to mind...If you have another topic you want to discuss...go right ahead


 
Comments
Aug. 10, 2010 12:50 pm
Nick, because I'm not a professional cook, I can't answer some of your questions. As a consumer and as a home cook, I can only say that unless you're living in a rural environment or not able to afford culinary exploration, there is very little that is missing. No matter what type or style of foods you want, you can find it. We are bombarded by television that now has a focus on foods. I particularly like the idea of schools offering students education on healthy eating alternatives as well as teaching kids how to cook. About the time "Home Economics" was removed from school curriculums, Americans began to rely much more on take out. I think having a rich and robust cooking curriculum offered in schools with mandatory requirements to take at least one basic cooking class... would be a fantastic way of re-charging our focus on proper nutrion, eating at home and avoiding fast foods. PS My culinary hero is my Grandmother Dorothy who raised 9 kids on a remote Montana cattle ranch, and had to feed all the kids, her husband and 6 ranch hands three full meals plus every single day. Seems when the kids all left and she moved to town, she must have missed cooking for the crowds because she was a volunteer cook every summer at a Catholic summer camp for kids in Montana. That lady could make rolls, breads, pies and cakes.. like no one else I ever knew.
 
Aug. 10, 2010 4:32 pm
I live in Las Vegas and work in the wine vault at Bellagio where there are several celebrity chef-owned (expensive)restaurants. The only one of these so-called chefs who actually puts on cook's whites and cooks in his restaurant is Julian Serrano who owns Picasso. We never see hide nor hair of the other ones. Julian actually comes to wine vault to borrow my newspaper while he visits the men's room just outside my door. I guess where I'm going with this is in answer to one of your questions regarding the respect due chefs; I feel that some in the field are overrated, not involved in their restaurants, and enjoying their celebrity status without getting their hands dirty. Others like Julian, have earned and deserve the respect they've gained and still love to cook. In the last 15 years or so, the entire culinary field has gained respect, and in most cases it is justified. Cooking professionally is hard, hot work. I tried my hand at it and found it wasn't for me. I have enormous respect for all working cooks and chefs; whether they fip burgers or create new culinary wonders. I have no respect for chefs who somehow gained celebrity status and rest on their laurels whilst others do the real work.
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 6:37 pm
I was just at the bellagio 2 weeks ago. I was staying at a freinds place down the strip but when i return i plan to stay there. It's much more well kept and beautiful than the other places. I'm glad Julian actually puts the time and effort into his restaurant. I'd love to sit down and hear his opinions on the industry and life. I actually planned to try Picasso upon my return.
 
Aug. 10, 2010 6:51 pm
Bellagio is a very beautiful hotel. I'm very proud to be able to say I work there. I have been dying to eat at Jasmine (I love Chinese food, and it's the most beautiful restaurant I've ever seen) but I asked the sommelier for Jasmine for a menu, and I don't think I could afford it. Picasso is highly recommended. I also know the sous chef of Picasso quite well and he's a terrific guy too. Sorry, Nick, I didn't mean to high-jack your blog.
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 6:57 pm
its all good...everyone high jack my blog! I love to meet chefs from all over. I try talking them up, and most of them couldn't be bothered or are too busy. I am looking forward to Picasso. If i remember it has 2 michelin stars! I have to try it!
 
Aug. 10, 2010 7:11 pm
So, in answer to at least one of your other questions, my culinary hero is Julia Child. She didn't know bubkis about food until her husband, Paul, took her to France and she was in her 30's at the time. She fell in love with the food and, as a diplomat's wife, had nothing to do all day, so decided to attend the Cordon Bleu school of cooking in Paris. She and two other women wrote "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in an attempt to bring the attention of American home cooks to something other than cream-of-mushroom soup concoctions. Julia wasn't pretty and she had a weird voice, but her PBS show changed the way America looked at cooking. She eventually sponsored and featured other cooks on her show and made them famous. I adored her. I cried when she died. I have, on the other hand, tried a few recipes from her famous book (Duck with cherry sauce springs to mind) and found it hard to follow (flipping pages back and forth) and it took all day to make everything. Starting with the duck broth. The result, in my novice hands, was not worth the effort. But she is still my number one culinary hero and always will be. And if it weren't for her, I never would have discovered Jaques Pepin, who is another one of my culinary heros.
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 7:24 pm
She also helped introduce French grapes to the Napa valley region. She was a big advocate for wineries growing grapes that could compare to the French classics. Many vinters and wineries in this country owe her a great deal of thanks. She not only brought her love for food to america, but her love for fine wine. Her and the vinter Robert Mondavi established the American institute for wine and food in Napa Valley California back in the 80's. I think she inspired alot of people to not just cook at home, but to discover cooking in their own way
 
Aug. 10, 2010 7:39 pm
Okay, I'm on a roll now. You didn't ask this question, but I think the emphasis on certain trendy ingredients, especially on the cooking shows, has resulted in a certain amount of food snobbery. For example; I was standing in front of an herb display at a local market and both Italian parsley and curley leaf parsley were the same price. I picked curley leaf parsley. Now all the cooking show chefs will tell you that Italian parsley is the best. I don't like it. It has a certain grittyness that I don't care for. I think curley leaf tastes fresher, brighter and greener somehow. That's just my taste, but hey, I'm the cook, so I get to choose. Food snobbery is rampant, and I'm no saint. I generally disparage recipes that call for canned cream of anything. I will usually just move on from a recipe if I see canned soup (or horrors, tater tots) as an ingredient. But I use it in my tuna casserole. Secretly. So I guess I'm a food snob too. But the one thing that irks me the most is that Italian cooks on the cooking shows extoll the virtues of Italian canned tomatoes over any other kind. Now, aren't tomatoes indigous to this continent? And didn't Europians think for years that tomatoes were poisonous? So what makes Italian tomatoes better? Do their cows poo out better fertilizer than ours do? Or is it food snobbery?
 
Aug. 10, 2010 7:54 pm
Speaking of wine, wasn't there a fungus that threatened the life of most of the vineyards in France? And in order to save the grapes, didn't the California vineyards send cuttings to France to save the wine industry there? I'm sure if it hadn't been for Julia and Robert Mondavi, the French vineyards would have been devastated. And since you appear to know so much about wine, Nick, what made 1982 such a great vintage? We sell an '82 Petrus that goes for $18,000 a bottle. And I'm not talkig about a magnum, just an ordinary 750m bottle. Do you know?
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 7:56 pm
Tomatoes are found everywhere in the world...just in different types. Tomatoes are actually poisonous, not the fruit mind you but the plant it grows on can make you very ill and can even kill young children and people with lowered immunity. I think any canned tomatoe is terrible, and that fresh tomatoes are the best (considereing like grapes it depends on geography, soil type, pollution levels in the rain, use of fertilizer, etc etc) and sometimes where they are grown can effect the flavor. It is a classic example of food snobbery, I think that in some cases it may be a matter of choosing fresh and in season stock,or going with a farm or distributor that is trusted with the highest quaqlity, but in some cases its clearly food snobbery at its worse
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 8:05 pm
1982 was one of the top(if not THE best) year in the last 100 years to produce grapes that were of exceptional quality. perfect temperature, the growing season was exactly right, and the rainfall was perfect. i guess you could say that in 82 all the stars and planets lined up for the grapes and produced a great crop that made a wine that is highly prized
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 8:09 pm
and yes there was a blight and some grapes made trhere way over here to be saved and flourish
 
Aug. 10, 2010 8:21 pm
The stars and planets could sing a little song and do a little dance and I still wouldn't pay $18,000 for a bottle of wine. That's more than my car cost, and I bought it new!
 
Aug. 10, 2010 8:45 pm
Well, Nick, it's been delightful writing back and forth with you. Between the two of us, we might make yours the most popular blog! I must go now, my 88 year-old Dad is coming over at 8 AM for me to balance his checkbook. So I must stop drinking my very cheap wine and get some sleep. It's really been great typing at you.
 
Nick 
Aug. 10, 2010 8:54 pm
have a wonderful evening :) I look forward to chatting it up some more
 
Aug. 11, 2010 7:43 am
ChefNick, it's a shame this blog got off track, it had the merits of a decent discussion and I would have been interested to see what novice cooks think of our industry. @Belles, thanks for trying to address this blog, you make an interesting point with your commentary. @Dianemwj, restaurants have culminated into marketing machines and sadly, good chefs have sold their name and reputation for ALOT of money. They may not even be able to dictate much of the restaurants style, menu, formulas or preparations. Once they have sold their name, they are basically not under any obligation to actually "run it" and in fact, many are encouraged by corporations to stay away. This has been widely known in the industry for some time and started several years ago in the Wolfgang Puck era.. who has sold out in the biggest and most famous way. You can now buy a pizza in your grocers freezer with his name on them, you can even have a genuine Puck meal at an airport.. do you really expect that he gives two hoots about flavor or quality? And just to clarify about Julia Child. If you're basing your knowledge of her off the movie or the Julie/Julia blog, you should do more digging. Julia Child was quite an accomplished cook before she ever married Paul or moved to France. She didn't receive formal training until into her late 30's, but she was always a very good home chef. It was Paul who encouraged her to branch out and of course, living in Paris - who wouldn't have their passion fueled?
 
Nick 
Aug. 11, 2010 9:26 am
It's a free for all on the culinary world. Everyone feel free to take the blog where it will go. Love the feedback
 
Aug. 11, 2010 10:26 am
I grew up in the country, so my idea of what's going on in schools might be a bit off, but I don't think there is NEARLY enough education about nutrition and food today. Even if kids ARE taught how to eat healthily, the cafeteria completely combats that by serving . Of course, there are rampant problems all over the school system, but teach kids to eat well and I think you lay the basic foundation for a successful future (less obesity and health problems, higher self-esteem, etc.) As for what's missing in the culinary world, that's easy. It's my own cooking show (it runs every night in my head as I make dinner. Ha!) Of course the world would be a better place with a bit of Nashville on the airwaves :) And my culinary hero has to be my mom. She would always (and still does) kill herself in the summer canning and preserving so we could have fruits and veggies in the winters (even with no air conditioning in our house.) She sometimes didn't have time to cook an elaborate meal, but we had a homecooked meal most nights, regardless! Great blog - I look forward to other's answers!
 
Aug. 11, 2010 1:28 pm
I was interested in the responses here too. Thanks for your input Nashville, I'll make sure to tune my imaginary TV tonight and watch you whip something up in your kitchen! LOL I don't know what they are serving in my local schools, but my guess is they are giving kids choices for pizza/spagetti or salads or other healthier options. I don't think what is being served in the cafeteria is such a big deal though. We had all the wrong foods, but my generation was not labeled with the "fat" tag like this generation has been. Good nutrition, like any education begins at home and it is compounded when the kids get to school. Healthy food education is important as learning what to do with that Swiss Chard. Let them cook!
 
Aug. 11, 2010 1:46 pm
Nick, if you don't care which direction your blog goes, why bother to think about a subject and specific questions? I think the blog is great, has merit and invites some real value, addressing one of the big concerns of our kids. Food snobbery because you prefer flat leaf to curly leaf.. well, maybe to some, but to me that's not as much of an issue as helping our kids make healthier choices and by doing that we need to help parents make it easy and affordable to set the tone. Yes, good nutrition begins at home, but if the parents don't know much about it, how can they pass on good habits. I must be your age, Belles. Food at our school wasn't the healthiest, but we were constantly out on the playground or into sports. We were active at school and at home. We didn't have Nintendo and TV like they do today. The electronic babysitter has made America's children fat.
 
Nick 
Aug. 11, 2010 3:03 pm
Interesting views, Belles your right, nutrition should start at home. Nashville I better see you on the food network soon! Queen..They're just conversation starters. Speak about whats going on in the culinary world in any way you wish :). I dislike TV and all these video games kids play, It scares me that i never see children outside playing anymore...perhaps there is many factors at play, and tho I find these things troubling. I have to say that really on a nutrional level HFCS and artificial ingredients along with fast food and junk food are adding to obesity. Watching TV anad being sedantary doesn't help you lose weight, but eating a box of cookies is just nailing the coffin shut Love this keep it going everyone :)
 
Aug. 12, 2010 5:02 am
Tried to post before, but it doesn't seem to have worked...our school district seems to be trying hard to improve it's "food service" - not just in what is served in the cafeteria, but in educating the kids about food/nutrition. The cafeterias have switched to serving all whole grains, big salad bar, no trans fat, less 'junk' more fruits/veggies. Soda/pop machines have been removed and replaced with bottled water machines. They've started including nutrition information on the available lunch items so that the kids can see what they are eating. The schools also start talking about nutrition early. My 2nd graders last year were already talking about it. In the Jr High all students are required to take a course where they not only talk about nutrition, but have to do menu planning and cooking. I suppose its similar to what would have been "home ec" back in my day, but beyond that basic learn to cook a casserole and make an a-line skirt kind of class (@dianemwj: I'm sure we made tater tot hotdish with cream of mushroom soup when I was in home ec!) Now just because the kids learn about it doesn't mean they'll follow through with it :) but it is a start!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 5:42 am
Nice idea for a forum - thanks. /// Ok, this is likely going to be quite long, with a few different threads ./// First of all, I am quite old. I was educated in the fifties and sixties, when the attitude was very much "heaven forfend that BOYS should learn DOMESTIC stuff - that's only for girls". So we quickly fastforward to the eighties (skipping over sexual rôle stereotypes discussions), to when I divorced my first wife and spent every meal in a Café, Pub or Restaurant. I needed to learn to cook and my first efforts involved opening a can of Ravioli, later I made it gourmet by adding cheddar dice and Worcester Sauce (quick lesson for you there, the correct name is Worcestershire - pronounced "woostersheer" - but we Brits simply call it Worcester Sauce ("wooster"). difficult I know, at first). And the bug bit when I HAD to produce something at home for a more special dinner. Picked up the phone... "Mum! I have a question ...." and so my love of producing rather than consuming was born - I still love both of course! So that said, I am not too qualified to comment on schooling in nutrition - in schools! In cooking schools it's different, because most people PAY for learning to cook dishes, and nutrition is (or should be) part of that learning experience there. /// OK, on another tack, I have worked in 16 different countries of the world, visited another 23 and whenever possible I have tried to eat "local". I have made my home in 6 countries so far, and I have never lived anywhere where you can't cook fresh. So I find it amazing that so many recipes here specify powdered this, dried that, even use dried soup mixes in recipes! Anything that is prepared and packaged for sale nowadays has so many chemicals in it, and then further chemiclas to enhance what is left, that the proper taste of so many things has been lost. And those chemicals and processes affect nutritional values as well. The demon dollar has been so responsible for losing sight of true nutrition. Ready for the grumpy old man's saying? Here goes: "When I was a lad .......". But seriously, when I was young things had their seasons. It wasn't possible to buy strawberries in December, to buy Mangoes, to buy "fresh" peas in February and so on. So when we actually could get them, they tasted exotic and heavenly, and exploded on your taste buds. Today, the chemicals and the processes, demanded to give them longer shelf life, remove so much of the flavour that I am sorry for today's consumers, and strawberries (as an example) flown in from over-cultivation in wherever just do not taste fresh! /// I could divert into farming and finances now but will swallow that diversion /// PAUSE FOR BREATH, and to quickly scroll back to the top to see what other questions you asked /// Respect for chefs (not chef's by the way - no apostrophe for a plural!) should be taken for granted as they have worked very very hard and very very long to get to the point of recognition. A well-known published chef is a friend of mine, and the stories of his starting days, 4 or 5 years of being a slave for someone else as they learn, of 20-hour days, 3 years without a break, up at 4 to bake the day's bread, go to the market to get the day's food, prep until lunch time, cook lunch, clear up everything, 45 minutes break, stock take and stock control, prep for dinners, serve dinners, clear away the entire day's activities and get to bed at midnight (if lucky). So yes, they do deserve respect. Now I don't get to see many American chefs here on European TV shows, but the ones I do get to see have not been impressive. I'm sure that they are there because they have merited it, in the American environment, but I just don't find them impressive enough to warrant too much of my time. For that reason my food heroes are Raymond Blanc and Heston Blumenthal, chefs who have pushed the boundaries of modern cooking. Not everything they do is popular with everyone (of course), but they are based on solid foundations ...
 
Aug. 12, 2010 5:49 am
... and they both are prepared to delight and amaze you, at the same time as continually developing new and nicer taste combinations. Another food heroine of mine is Delia Smith. It is fashionable to pooh-pooh successful people, but let's face it, Delia has encouraged so many people, and helped them become so much better at cooking with her series of cooking books, and TV shows that she must be lauded as well. Others who have influenced me include Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Caroline Cable, Madhur Jaffrey, Ken Hom, David Thompson and a few others. But the biggest influence has been Sonya Jane Fairchild. /// Phew! Hope this helps! I think I need to go and have a lie-down now! Sorry for the length!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 6:00 am
Oh and on the subject of wine ... 2009 is being touted as the all time ever best year, 2003 the second, 2005 the third and '82 the 4th! And I have only 800 bottles (including various Pétrus, Lafite etc. etc. vintages)- sadly no '82s, but a lot each year from '02 to '08. I can't afford the '09s - unbelievable prices even "en primeur")
 
Aug. 12, 2010 6:14 am
And Dianemwj, the disease was called Phylloxera and was introduced by the Phylloxera louse - a native of North America. It reached Europe at about the same time as the American Civil War was ending, simply and solely because transport became swift enough for it not to die on transatlantic crossings, the new steamships being swift enough for it to survive on the specimens that were so avidly collected by the Victorians. The disease spread throughout the European and North African vineyards over a 30 or 40 year period. American vines are resistent to it, and the French started grafting their vines onto American roots already in the 1870s and this remains the only effective defence to this day!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 6:22 am
Correction to the wine vintages, I mixed up both Bordeaux and Burgundy wines ... The best Bordeaux vintages of the last 30 years are: 1982, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009. The '82 was voted the wine of the century but the 2000, '05 and '09 are suggested to be even better! As I said, some rate the '09 as the best ever.
 
Aug. 12, 2010 9:49 am
Wow, Nick! It appears your blog has really taken off. Congratulations on coming up with so many interesting questions! @ChefSuzie: I had been a huge fan of Julia Child decades before I ever heard of Julie Powell and the Julie/Julia Project. I have read quite a bit about Julia, including her autobiograpical "My Life in France". In her book she states: "In preparation for living with a new husband, I decided I'd better learn how to cook. I took a bride-to-be's cooking course from two English women in Los Angeles, who taught me how to make things like pancakes." Julia goes on to say that for her first dinner for Paul, she made "brains simmered in red wine" and that "the dinner was a disaster". She also states "I grew more determined than ever to learn how to cook well." Paul is quoted as saying "Her first attempts were not altogether successful". So you see, I have done my "digging" as you call it, and from what I've gleaned from her own words, it does not appear that Julia was an accomplished home cook before she fell in love with French cooking.
 
Nick 
Aug. 12, 2010 10:20 am
It's good they are trying to edaucate them as much as possible Pete. It's easy to lecture on and on about things but to actually get them involved is very important. PHIL!! How are you? LOVE IT! awesome really. (can't believe i missed that typo on chefs). The blog is definitely a very open ended forum. There are so many factors social. psychological, geographical, cultural beliefs, etc. And thats just witht he questions I posted. It's always possible to eat local, and fresh to the season, I think people are one or both of a 2 prong problem. They either are lazy or too busy to cook good food, or they don't know how to cook/perhaps even don't like to cook(scared?). I have a friend who has lived in his condo now for 8 years! 8 years thats 2920 days! NEVER used his oven. It's still brand new never been used. He either eats out all the time or buys processed stuff he can easily microwave. Horrible. Even many of the supermarket chains here are setting up there fresh food sections more like farmers markets. Buy local, visit farms, ask your local grocery store about where the food comes from. I could go off on that tangent again. I think Chefs deserve a good amount of respect within their field. Here in the US there's too much of a "celebrity chef" mentality. It's all about how many patches, colored scarves, fluffy hats you can wear and like I've said before..Just because you were a porter in a fancy restaurant does not mean you are skilled to work in A KITCHEN. Respect comes with years of experience, and it's not something you hang throw in peoples faces (ooo look at me look what i did) Your food, your personality and your drive will more than speak wonders for you and people will line up to eat your food. I have to say Auguste Escoffier, Raymond Blanc, Marco White, Nigella Lawson, and Julia Childs are at the top of my list. I learned how to make pastry dough at a young age watching the Roux brothers cooking shows.SO I guess I can put them in there too. Wines weren't always my strong point, but yeah alot of great wines are coming out still. I heard that the '09 French wines were considered perfect. There are so many different types of grape and then add on the vintage and region, size of the bottle, specific vinter..It seems like by the time you really get comfortable with whats what..the new bottles are coming out :) I have to remain vigiliant and eye on these things. Awesome feedback Phil thanks!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 11:26 am
Interesting topic........If you check out my profile, you may get a chuckle out of my meeting with Julia:)My "hero" in the cooking world is Martha Stewart. I grew up in the 60's and the age of liberating women from the household chores as they went into the workplace in record numbers. (I am a staunch feminist, so don't get your knickers in a bunch folks) Anyway, I like that she brought back an interest in the home arts and especially cooking. I find that the most disappointing part of the dining experience these days, is to find good local restaurants at a reasonable price that serve regional cuisine. I do not like that America has become so homogenized and corporate, that you can get the same meal in the same setting at every town in America. We always seek out the local restaurants. Only problem is that they are frequently high end restaurants when we just want a well cooked meal at a decent price. Don't get me wrong, I love a real "dining" experience...just not every day. I also wish that the schools had the money to reinstate home economics programs as a required subject. I loved it when I was in school. I also wish they had the money to push PE again. My husband says they are no longer allowed to require it or even showering after it because of all the parental lawsuits through the years.
 
Keri 
Aug. 12, 2010 12:41 pm
What a great idea for a blog, Nick! I honestly can't think of anything that's missing in the culinary world today. There is so much variety available, even for those of us who don't live in metropolitan areas. Most grocery stores are catching on to the fact that home cooks want to produce more gourmet results in their kitchens and so these stores are now carrying the ingredients and tools necessary to do so. I do wish that some of the lesser known produce options were more readily available, though. For example, I couldn't find broccoli rabe in any store within a 20 mile radius of my house if my life depended on it! Regarding the level of education offered to help our younger generations understand nutrition and give them a basic culinary knowledge, the answer is a loud and resounding "NO!!" When my 15-year-old nephew calls me for help cooking a simple package of Top Ramen, I can safely say the schools are not offering even the most basic education in this field. I can remember "Nutrition" classes every Friday when I was in grade school (probably around 4th grade) being the highlight of my week! I fervently wish these classes were still offered to our children today. I cannot honestly give an opinion on whether or not chefs are given the correct amount of respect within their field for what they do, because I am not a chef and I do not personally know any chefs. I can, however, say that I agree with Dianemwj when she says that there are chefs who definitely deserve a very high level of respect and there are those that don't deserve any at all. The ones who arrive at dawn to personally select the finest ingredients from fishmongers, butchers and farmers' markets so they KNOW they are serving quality foods in their restaurants, and then slave all day in the kitchen preparing their dishes with a passion for food deserve "We are not worthy" bows from all of us lucky enough to enjoy their creations. Those who just show up because it's a job and don't give a rat's patootie what kind of slop they're sending out of their kitchen don't even deserve the title of "chef", much less the respect that goes with it. **** I've already said that I wish schools would still offer nutrition classes, and yes I definitely believe that these classes should also include cooking and preparation instruction. Kids are MUCH more likely to eat foods that are healthy for them if they have a hand in preparing those healthy foods. To take it a step further, I also believe that EVERY school should have a vegetable garden, planted and tended by the students. Studies have proven that children who "hate" vegetables will eat those very same vegetables if they have had a hand in growing them! **** My culinary hero would have to be my mother. No, she's not a chef, not professionally trained, and definitely not all that adventurous in the kitchen. However, she worked miracles with limited ingredients due to a very small grocery budget when my siblings and I were growing up. AND she made sure that my brother, sister, and I ALL knew at least the basics of preparing many different kinds of foods. Because of her, not one of us went out into the world needing to depend on Chef Boyardee, Banquet, and McDonalds to provide our meals.
 
Aug. 12, 2010 1:01 pm
I rarely ever comment on blogs, even when the other comments upset me (i.e., when a blog is great, but the comments end up being judgmental and closed-minded), but this time, I'm going to stick up for all the moms out there who are doing their dead-level best, but god-forbid are not feeding their kids vegetables fresh from the garden every day with bread made from wheat they grew and made into their own flour. First, I'm not a chef or professional cook, just a single mom with four young teenagers who does her best to raise them right, love them, support them financially, be mom and dad for them, make sure they get a good education, are good citizens AND feed them well. I cook as often as I can, trying to balance my food budget, picky eaters and healthy, homemade meals. I really hate to use cream of anything soups and often create my own cream sauce to replace such ingredients, and even bake a lot of our bread. However, you try getting up every day before dawn to get ready for work, then get your kids fed and off to school (usually with a packed lunch, because of the poor quality of the food served at their school - you pay for it, which for 4 kids is about $250 per month, and then they toss it out and eat their friend's potato chips), work all day, drag your tired butt to pick up the kids, go home, help everyone with homework, do laundry and housework and yardwork and all the rest of it, cook a decent meal, drive the kids to wheverever they need to be (basketball practice, music lessons, etc.), try to get a little sleep and start all over again the next day. Spend every weekend at games, shopping for necessities and the turquoise ink pen the language arts teacher feels is a necessity, chaffuering, cleaning and having darn little precious time for anything for yourself, and you see if you don't find yourself driving through for a hamburger or grabbing that premade stuff, no matter how guilty you feel doing it. My kids are not obese, they are actually quite thin and they rarely get to be outside "playing" because they have at least 2 to 3 hours of homework every night (and they would much rather be outside than watching tv or playing video games). Where we live, the state education standards have increased to the point that the kids have absolutely no free time at all. They watch very little television and only play video games occasionally on the weekends. And most of my friends' kids are in the same boat. My kids are also quite educated about nutrition, a couple of them even enjoy cooking with me, and they have to be responsible for menu planning and preparing dinner once a week. Sometimes, in spite of that, they just want Sonic or fish sticks. How many adults smoke in spite of knowing it's bad for their health? So before you start stereotyping, really get to know what is going on. Maybe the kids are not outside and are sedentary because they are trying to learn algebra and Latin and physics in middle school. Maybe dad disappeared after 20 years of marriage and mom is overwhelmed trying to be everything to everyone AND care for her aging parents. Maybe she works 50 hours a week to pay for braces and a few organic vegetables which are twice as expensive as the other stuff. I'm sorry if this detracts from your blog, which was actually quite good, but it seems food snobbery now extends to those of us who are doing our best, but not always preparing a gourmet meal for our families. And I'm not complaining, I love my kids and my life, and there are many people who had a harder time of it than me, but I'm a little tired of the popular sport of judging parenting. There, I feel better now.
 
Aug. 12, 2010 1:05 pm
Definitely in the category of novice chef here, so a lot of the earlier discussion went over my head. Well, I'd like to think a bit better than novice, but if nothing else, very self-taught. I don't know much about famous chefs or restaurants or anything. From my school experience, we got about 2 months of cooking in an "exploratory wheel" (if you didn't do band or a foreign language, it also included drama, art, etc.) when we were 13, and my high school offered up to 2 years culinary arts, but I didn't take it. The cooking class was pretty basic in that time, about half on safety and then measurements (how many cups in a gallon, etc.) and then half cooking, but all simple things like smoothies, soup, and pizza. I don't remember any nutrition per se taught with it though, it was all just follow the recipe with the right amounts of what it lists. We also had a "health" class in freshman year, but that mostly focused on sex ed. ---- In terms of the credit chefs get, seems like a lot of celebrity chefs get too much (they don't do that much themselves), but I think in your everyday restaurant they don't get enough. Think about how good the food is at your favorite italian place or whatever, and think how much you have thought about the cooks, probably close to never in most people's cases. I was thinking about this the other day when my cousin (a chef) catered dad's 60th birthday. I lot of work and GREAT food, and while he was showered with compliments that day, I doubt he ever does at his regular job. I wish I could tip the cooks instead of the waitresses (not offense to waitresses, but personally I think chefs have a much more demanding job).
 
Keri 
Aug. 12, 2010 2:55 pm
@JAMJMine - Since you didn't indicate who you were directing your comments to, I sincerely hope they weren't in response to my post. I am in the exact same boat you are in...single mom with no help from my kids' father (we've seen $50 from him in the past 13 months and no b-day or X-mas gifts) working full time and struggling to pay the bills and put nutritious food on the table. When I mentioned "gourmet results", I didn't mean expensive cuts of meat or exotic imported produce. I meant great-tasting food. My mention of a garden was purely a wish that all schools would have a community garden that the students tended. I wasn't in any way indicating that people who don't have their own gardens aren't feeding their children properly. I understand 100% the challenge of being a single mom on a tight budget. Once my bills are paid, I have less than $200 from each of my two monthly paychecks to work with, out of which I must purchase shampoo, body soap, dish soap, toilet paper, deodorant, etc. in addition to groceries. I would like to offer you one tip that has been a HUGE money saver for me. I make my own liquid laundry soap! It's very quick to make and it uses products you can find at almost any store - Borax, washing soda, and a bar soap called Fels Naptha (you can also use plain old Ivory bar soap, but you need to use a little more). One recipe of the laundry soap costs about a dollar and makes approximately 2 GALLONS of soap...and you only use 1/4-1/2 cup per load of laundry! Here's the URL of the web site where I found out how to do this **** www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm **** Good luck, and I hope my post above wasn't the one that offended you!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 3:08 pm
I'm just a plain old home cook. I haven't traveled much, certainly not extensively. My grandmother "entertained" and was completely APPALLED when I didn't have fine china and crystal stemware on my wedding registry. She was an excellent cook and my mom is as well, but my mom never had the interest in it and therefore, didn't encourage me past Girl Scout badges and 4-H cooking classes. But I don't really feel I've missed anything...I can provide a healthy home-cooked meal for my family and that's all I need. I don't even know who famous chefs are, except for the ones I've seen on the Food Network. As for schools, I never took home ec or "Food and Clothing" classes as they call them here now. I might have benefitted from one, as many students might today, but when we've got test scores falling and budgets dropping, that's not happening for *most* students and I don't expect it to become a huge trend.
 
Aug. 12, 2010 3:34 pm
OK - here's my 2 cents. I'm a chef and kitchen manager for a city rescue mission. My job is a lot like the show "Chopped" - whatever comes in the backdoor (ie:basket) is what gets incorporated into the next meal. You must be creative, fast thinking and hard working. My job now is a far cry from my food beginnings. I started in a french cafe using high quality ingredients for the upper crust of society. High end food for high end parties. This is where I fell in love with food. And I have a great appreciation for fine cuisine. What high end cooking taught me was what basic ingredients it took to achieve a great finished product. I can now take that knowledge and although I may not have the "superior" ingredients to work with - I have a palate and the knowledge to make "copy cat" food results. However - I digress - back to your blog. We are now 3 generations from people who did "scratch" cooking. At the mission, part of my job is to teach cooking to the "students" who are in the program. And they are usually very enthused to learn. I have also been teaching cooking classes at some of the local churches. It is sad that so many people don't know how to cut up a chicken - season it and cook it. They don't want to even touch it much less cook it. I have started teaching "Cooking 101" classes to teach people just the basics of cooking - and they want to learn. They eat fast food partly out of ignorance of how to buy and cook "real" food. We have got to start taking the time to teach people/kids to cook. It's becoming a lost art. Pretty soon there will be a picture of a woman/man holding a platter with a roast and carrots and potatoes surrounding it, hanging in the Smithsonian with this phrase under it - "the last known cook in American" - and people will swarm to look at it and say "if only someone would have taken the time to teach/learn, we wouldn't all be standing in line at McDonald's" - ok - I've gotten way off course here. Do I think chef's get too much or not enough credit? yes. Who is my cooking hero? Every person who says to themselves - I don't have a clue about what I'm doing - but I'm going to TRY! You know what makes a chef - a chef? - - we dare to succeed or we dare to fail - but we dare! Go ahead - I dare ya - grab that recipe and let her rip!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 4:21 pm
I love that philosophy, luv2cook. That's what I do. I wanted to learn how to make really fun, pretty cupcakes, so I just started making them and practicing. I'm not a pro, but I've improved and learned a lot. ****** and JAMJMin, I *totally* get where you're coming from. I was never a single parent and I only have two kids, but just providing something, including fast food, when we had nights my husband was out of town, I had a zillion papers to grade and the kids had different activities at the same time was a VERY hard thing to accomplish. Most of us do the best we can and I personally admire you for your remarks. Thanks for sharing them.
 
Nick 
Aug. 12, 2010 4:32 pm
I love it. This is what I like to hear, there are SO many avenues, so many ideas, this is what I want to hear, the good the bad, the happy the angry, everything. So many good points so many great ideas...Well said everyone, keep it going :)
 
Janet 
Aug. 12, 2010 5:32 pm
JAMJMine: Wow, good for you for getting that off your chest. I commend you for trying so hard. Spending time with your children I believe is so important, sometimes a meal together at Sonic is not a bad thing because you have their undivided attention and can really visit with them. You're doing your best.....Luv2Cook: you sound like you have a very rewarding job and have learned so much over the years. Personally I have always enjoyed cooking, when I owned my fast food restaurant to me that wasn't really cooking other than some of the prep of fresh condiments and salads. We served a couple of healthy items but typically not very popular to the customer. I sold almost a year ago and spent a lot of this time spending more and more quality time in my kitchen being reintroduced to cooking. A couple of weeks ago a local caterer asked me to work for her, she had landed a contract to feed the employees of a sub contractor to the local Toyota Plant in our town. They serve lunch and dinner for the 2 different shifts. I am back in the grind of cooking but now in the large quantities again, I have been preparing some really interesting dishes and I just love the fast pace. I start at 7 and just go, go, go. I could start even earlier and stay later if needed. I think that is what being a chef is all about the dedication and love for the craft.....I personally feel proud of what I am accomplishing now than I did before with my own business. I was no small potatoes, my sales were phenominal, but it wasn't the same, and not to mention a franchise that sucks the life and money out of you as well.....I love to watch cooking shows, but I do not have one specific chef that I admire the most....The person I do admire the most would be my home economics teacher, Mrs. Raye, because I still can hear her giving me little tips that I use today....this is a very intersting blog......
 
Aug. 12, 2010 9:12 pm
KERI, thanks for the tip about the soap! I didn't even see your comments until after I posted mine. It took a while (with interruptions) to get it typed. And I absolutely don't have any problem with what you said - as a matter of fact, I regularly read your blogs and really admire you. To be completely honest, I was having a bad day all around. It is quite unlike me to do something like that. I'm not sure what got into me!
 
Aug. 12, 2010 9:16 pm
Oh, sorry, one more thing, @Lynna and Janet thanks for the supportive comments. I appreciate your understanding!
 
Nick 
Aug. 13, 2010 7:30 am
I think everyone is learning something new here :)
 
Keri 
Aug. 13, 2010 8:50 am
@JAMJMine - You are very welcome! I hope you like the laundry soap. I've even found that I don't need to use fabric softener anymore...not even with towels!! Thanks for the compliments on my blogs. It makes me blush to hear that someone admires me :-) Have a wonderful weekend!! @Nick - Thanks again for the great blog and opening up the comments to wherever they go!
 
Mrs. C 
Aug. 13, 2010 9:20 am
Fascinating! Addressing the issue of nutritional education for our kids, I can only state my own experience. Fortunately, when I was in Jr. High, we had a"home ecnomics" class. Basic cooking, and basic sewing for all eighth grade girls. The boys had a "shop" class)These days, many many schools have pulled this program. As an elementary teacher myself, children DO have very basic information about a healthy lifestyle, but more and more time is taken for subjects that aer on the state tests. All kids should have shop, cooking, nutrition, and basic economics training. $$$$$
 
Aug. 13, 2010 10:21 am
JamJMine, It made me sad to read your comment. I know that so many single parents face so much stress dealing with all the demands that are even difficult for a two parent home. I hope your ex is of some help both financially and economically with the raising of your children. I was so lucky to grow up in an intact family and our son was too. It is beyond sad that some parents walk away from their responsibility. My husband has taught for 31 years and he has seen the sadness in so many of "his kids" lives.He has gone from teaching a small percentage of children of divorce to the majority of his students being from fractured families. His role has taken a large turn toward social worker because of this tragic trend. He knows that frequently, he is the only stable male role model that these kids meet with every day. He takes that responsibility very seriously. I frequently read some crazy shots at public education and it frustrates me to read judgmental & knee jerk rants about the public education system. I am so proud to live in a country where educaction is for the taking by all the citizens of the country. There are great teachers, mediocre teachers and poor teachers.....just like there were when I grew up in the old days. The teachers I hated the most were the ones that demanded so much of me because they knew I was capable of so much more.Looking back, I can recognize this, but as a kid, I claimed "they were picking on me" WAH! My parents sided with the teachers and pushed me to be better. It taught me not only book smarts, but the art of getting along with all kinds of personalities. (especially bosses I didn't admire LOL) Anyway, it is involved parents like you that make my husbands job easier and your children's lives richer. While you may be overwhelmed now, someday they will show you the rewards of all your sacrifices. Take care.
 
Aug. 13, 2010 10:21 am
Sorry for hijacking your blog Nick.
 
Nick 
Aug. 13, 2010 10:33 am
lol It's not a problem...I like this, feel free to hijack the blog..like i said..its almost like a blog within a blog. It's getting people to speak their minds and encouraging conversation. I really have to thank everyone! It just wouldn't be a great blog without all the input and ideas. Keep it going strong. :)
 
SueB 
Aug. 13, 2010 2:41 pm
Wouldn't it be fabulous to teach kids to garden and eat what they grow? Teach them to can and about caring for the earth...make them aware that we can be self-sufficient to any degree (or none) that they choose. But give them the information to make a choice. I have picked up canning again this year and love, love, love it. This afternoon I watched my husband eat a pickled green bean that I had put up a few weeks ago. He had no idea I was watching and probably would laugh at me, but it made my heart light to see him enjoy the "fruits" of my labor. Our cellar is being filled with shelf-stable foods that I have prepared and will help feed my family throughout the colder months. That feels so good!
 
Janet 
Aug. 13, 2010 5:47 pm
SueB: I love your idea of teaching children to learn how to garden....there must be so many retired or semi-retired or just love to garden people that should be able to volunteer their time to perhaps creating and helping the students operate a functional communitity garden.....I think it is sad that home economics and shop have been scrapped from school ciriculum. When I was in elementary school we actually had some stay at home moms host us at their home and taught us....we were divided into groups and for 4 weeks we went to one parents home to cook, then for 4 weeks to learn to crochet, 4 weeks to learn a sewing project.....this would never happen today because of the liability alone of these students walking alone to someones home....I forgot what wonderful opportunities I had when I was younger.....I think it would be great to get back to some of the basics for the young people today....
 
Nick 
Aug. 13, 2010 8:12 pm
It would be great if there were volunteers to help educate kids and adults alike. I've said in my previous blogs that community is an important thing and that often enough people barely know their own neighbor! If anything if your lucky enough to have any kind of farm nearby it would be wonderful if they could work with schools (field trips, in class education sessions, etc.) I think it all depends on availabilty and location. Some farms are subsidized by local or federal government. They are getting paid for their work on the farm so I can't see why they would charge school systems for lectures and tours. It may even mean more money for them..I don't know just speculation lol it's not written in stone
 
Aug. 13, 2010 9:49 pm
Mauigirl, thanks for your kind words. I always let my kids' teachers know that I have their backs, and expect my kids to be respectful and work hard. My kids know that trouble with the teacher = trouble with mom with a rare exception. As far as intact families, my parents have been married almost 50 years and that's what I wanted to give my kids. It didn't happen, though, and I just do the best I can to make sure they know they are loved and supported, and pray they don't have too much emotional baggage from it all. Have a good weekend everyone!
 
Aug. 14, 2010 12:32 am
"Do you think that there is enough education in any level of schooling to help understand nutrition and basic culinary knowledge?" When you have a 29 year old who posts to a cooking forum asking how do you cook frozen vegetables without a microwave because hers is on the fritz, the answer is no. I would hate to ask her to make broiled grapefruit [my home ec nightmare... I hated grapefruit and it wasn't much better broiled] "If schools offer any health/nutrition classes, should they also include cooking and preparation as part of the course study?" No. Cooking should be part of home ec and there should be a home ec class. Management of household finances, basic repairs, cooking, evaluation of all those areas of daily living involved with the home should be included. Never assume the parents have the skills to maintain or to teach the basic skills. We would like to think this begins at home but how could that 29 year old teach her daughter or son about cooking when she herself never learned? And basic management? Might not have the credit crunch we have now if they learned the basics. My mother was a good manager but the rational side school put on it put me in the position where I have a paid for car. I have a paid for house. I'm on solid financial ground. I will never forget my one teacher waving a beautiful stock embossed with real gold in front of us and asking what we thought 10 shares of this company was worth. After we guessed he told us that was worth exactly the use of it in an outhouse if you ran out of catalogs because it was from 1925 and the company lost everything in the crash. I never forgot that lesson. "Who is your culinary hero? (family member, celebrity chef, teacher, etc.)" My grandmother. She learned to cook in 1900. She could cook anything. The first thing her 92 year old nephew said to me when he realized she was my grandmother was "Edna sure could cook" She taught me to understand there was more to cooking than following a recipe.
 
Aug. 14, 2010 9:55 am
Yeah...what Philocrates said ;)
 
Aug. 14, 2010 10:02 am
i worked in a restraunt for over 20 years. i cant aford to go to school so i try learning everything i can from books and tv i try alot of diferant recipes i find on line. i think alot of people who are chefs have lost the passion and there are the want a bees that think they can jump right in and make alot of money. i cook now mostly for my family and friends but i love doing it just for the smiles on there faces.
 
Aug. 14, 2010 6:58 pm
I think I'll add my 2 cents to this one. I think food is often taken for granted. I have moved from city life to rural life and find the only foods around here are greasy spoon type of places. I enjoy a variety of cuisines, and have missed them and wish I were able to cook a lot of them myself. I think chefs and cooks hmm, do they have enough recognition? I wouldn't know, I love the little hidden places in the city, you know the ones only the locals know about where there is a line up around the block and you have to wait forever for some of the best food you've ever eaten, whether it's authentic french, south american, vietnamese, etc. If it's packed at all hours of the day, you know it's good. The prices are often great at these places, but what are the cooks who make this great food making? I have no idea. I love the cookbooks by Ina Garten and Micheal Smith, I know they cook because I've watched their shows more than once and have described their processes of perfecting recipes.
 
Aug. 14, 2010 7:05 pm
To continue on, I feel very much like nutrition and its value is WAY under emphasized in our society. I wish our local corner stores would stock things like veggies and dip, or apple/fruit juices more instead of chips and pop. I wish learning to cook placed at higher importance...I say it again, and feel that it should begin at home. I am finding it's really important for parents to teach their kids how to cook, at least basic culinary skills before they leave home. I wish there was less time spent at school and more importance placed on parents teaching children skills like this. Like how to keep a house clean, how to cook, how to do laundry and basic skills like this. However, all the time children spend in school...do they really need to know advanced algebra, calculus, the table to elements, accounting, etc.? What about the basic skills, can't kids be kids and learn things they need to know. Okay, that's my little rant.
 
Aug. 14, 2010 7:15 pm
In todays cullinary world, what is missing? Hmm, well, I wish we would have greater variety in everyday cooking, I wish there were better prices for large bulk items being available to the average consumer. I wish people would just slow down and make their own bread, grind their own wheat, make and eat more fresh maple syrop, grow gardens, just slow down and enjoy local foods, local harvests, more emphasise on fresh foods, less on hormones in grocery store meat, hormones to make cows produce milk, sprays on fruits and vegetables, more pure, healthy, foods. That is what is missing to me. What you take into your body and eating a balanced diet is so essential to being and feeling healthy in life. another rant, but this is a great topic and list of questions. I'm glad you brought it up.
 
Aug. 15, 2010 4:11 am
*What do you think is missing in today's culinary world?* Simplicity. It seems like the chefs are trying to outdo each other in terms of snobbish ingredients, not what's best for the palate. *Do you think that there is enough education in any level of schooling to help understand nutrition and basic culinary knowledge?* In America? Not on your life. We used to have health and home ec classes. Are those still around? *Are chef's (within their field) given enough, too much or not enough respect for what they do?* I think it's starting to get out of hand. They're cooking food, not finding a cure for cancer. *If schools offer any health/nutrition classes, should they also include cooking and preparation as part of the course study?* Absolutely, but let me qualify that. I think every student needs to take both health and home economics. While they have some overlap (nutrition), they are not the same thing, and one class alone couldn't convey all that productive citizens need to know about those issues. Each class also needs to emphasize what the science tells us. Not wishful thinking or ideology. *Who is your culinary hero? (family member, celebrity chef, teacher, etc.)* My grandmother. She was able to cook multiple cuisines well: Southern/soul food, Creole, Cajun, German, Tex-Mex, but she was a rural farm woman. She taught me so much about how food works together, the importance of the best, freshest ingredients you can get your hands on, and what you can't use right now, freeze/preserve it.
 
Aug. 15, 2010 6:03 pm
I was reading about your thoughts on canned tomatoes ,I can my own and I think that in the middle of winter my canned heirloom tomatoes are kinda like summer in a jar ,I grow my own ,well I have a whole garden full of stuff . I believe in buying and growing seasonly. Its a lot of work to do some of this ,I hunt and fish pick morel mushrooms and asparagus in the spring, harvest wild rice in the fall,I buy chickens & pork from the Amish .I know where most of my food comes from and what has to happen before it can be say burger or fried chicken ,I grow up doing most of this and I also grow up around cooking,my grand parents and my parents owned restaurants ,I went to culinary school,ya I like to cook. Nick I wish you where here to try some of this salsa I just put up ,28 pints ,12 qt. of tomato juice,28 qt. of V8,the root cellar and the freezer will be in good shape this year.In most places that I've worked I seemed to end up doing the seafood, I see your located in Mass.,if I lived near the sea I would be down at the docks buying shellfish& fish ,Idid live buy the sea for 2 years once and I miss it ,well don't work to hard,I use to wear chefs whites and a silly hat now Im retired ,have a good night. Henry
 
Nick 
Aug. 15, 2010 7:00 pm
Great comments everyone :) It would be nice to see a good education background. There's so many common sense things that you would think people would learn but in some cases it's not true. I deal with it a few times with students who are very book smart but not very smart in the way of common sense...I can't really pin down anyone for that...sometiemes it just comes with experience. Commercially produced canning i'm not very keen on. preservatives, and actual metal cans. I stopped at a pizza shop that serves some pretty gourmet pizzas. I ordered on with raosted peppers, which were clearly out of a can...it tasted like i was eating a mouthful of nickels...i had them take ity back and make me a different pizza it was so bad. I always enjoy the preserved veggies my freinds make.. SOO good
 
Aug. 15, 2010 7:44 pm
I just went back and read some of the coments on this blog and I like what lov2 cook wrote,I think I cook from sratch,but I think that most people don't have a clue,just watch when at the grocery store what people have in their carts and it amazes me the that I see,I mean boxed this and boxed that ,whole carts full,any thing hambuger helper can do I can do better and I can teach any one how too.Its wierd out of all the woman I dated or married I have only found one that could cook like my grandmother and bake like my mother ,but she was Like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction,it got pretty dicey for awhile. Henry
 
Nick 
Aug. 15, 2010 10:53 pm
I was a latch key kid. My parents both worked and had divorced by the time I was 10. It was easier for my mother to buy processed food and for a while my brother and I ate only what I would consider junk. But my grandmother(and occasionally my mom) would always make sure we knew how to cook our own meals, and cook well. Eventually Mom would buy us what we needed (or she could afford) and we learned to cook our own food while Mom and Dad worked all day. We had rough times and ate some unhealthy foods over the years, but now that we're older we eat much much better. It really is important to not just learn what's good for you, but be trained through continously being exposed to information and hands on cooking experiences to really make it stick in your mind..It becomes a habit you cannot overcome
 
Aug. 16, 2010 8:45 am
Nick, it's good you're encouraging people to speak their minds. I must have misunderstood your commentary to me early on. Glad to see I was incorrect. :) As a personal chef (from business men to busy families to professional athletes), I get all kinds of requests from down home cooking to what some have labeled as the "food snob" ingredients. I'm not exactly sure what that means and if that is necessarily such a bad thing. Not for all palates, but what some prefer. I have worked as an executive chef for 5 star hotel restaurants in the US, Europe and Canada and during a long hiatus, I helped my cousin open her restaurant in Seattle - a very basic, down home cooking, yet organic type of place. It was fun and I probably learned more there than I ever have working anywhere else. I have all the credentials and have seen the best and worst of the industry. My pet peeve is a smart aleck, know-it-all executive or head chef that can't see the forest through the trees, can't read his/her clientele and is unable to bend to the desires of the customers' palate. For example, I worked in my early years at a steakhouse in New York. The Exec Chef was such a "bully" that he refused to put salt out on the dining tables. "How dare anyone question his seasoning!!!". He found that multitudes of customers asked for it and when they did, the little Napolean would berate the wait staff for daring to ask. I left before his client base dwindled to nothing. Eventually it closed completely.
 
Nick 
Aug. 16, 2010 12:56 pm
Classic example of a food snob. A good example i always come across is with BBQ sauce oddly enough. I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I like those sauces that have molasses, and brown sugar, etc. I like a sweet sauce, but there are those people who will shun me..yes SHUN me for not appreciating a vinegary/mustard BBQ sauce which to them is authentic BBQ sauce there is no other. And in fact will serve ONLY that kind of sauce in their restaurant. Then they wonder why I sell more ribs because I offer BOTH sauces. There is a very important dynamic between the customer and the kitchen. They have to be willing to understand that (hopefully) the person preparing their food has good experience and knows what makes foods taste good. And the kitchen staff has to understand that even though they have seasoned and cooked the food to ABSOLUTE perfection..there are those people who's palate simply needs a little extra salt and pepper, or think the sauce is too sweet/salty/bitter for their taste. If you get 5 returns out of 100 its not an insult, it's just a persons taste. If you get 50+ plates coming back out of 100...maybe you need to look at what you're doing.I had an executive chef who was far more prone to injury and screweing up than he was to cooking an edible meal, and he always tried to blame me for it. I guess food snobbery really comes down to the situation. If you're out there hand picking the best ingredients you can get, all the power to you! That's awesome. Buying bagged lettuce and trying to pass it off as organic locally grown $$$ salad...bad bad bad. And using ingredients or cluttering ingredients just because it sounds good is usually a good example of food snobbery. A caesar salad is a caesar salad, it doesn't need special organically grown endive, or some endangered rainforest walnut. It's a simple salad leave it alone. :) YOu want to make your own dressing from scratch and add some lovely kind of protein choice to it..cool, that would be interesting. Buy your lettuce form a local farm? very nice! But telling me that your olive oil comes form special olives grown on the north facing slope of ancient volcano on a remote island,which are only harvested in the middle of april, and is then hand pressed by a sect of monks who live on the island and produce a scant 30 gallons per year...too much! lol
 
coco 
Aug. 17, 2010 8:25 am
Great idea Nick, good questions. I do believe schools should have more classes and education for students to learn more about cooking/nutrition. There are times kids are at home for some periods of time that could cook something for themselves or help the parents get things started for dinner. I was impressed with luv2cook's comment too, everyone had great reponses.
 
Aug. 17, 2010 3:20 pm
My culinary hero is Alton Brown. I love learning about the science behind food.
 
Nick 
Aug. 17, 2010 3:36 pm
I really love everyones input. It's very good to see how involved and concerned everyone is about whats going on. I never thought I'd get this kind of feedback
 
Aug. 17, 2010 9:34 pm
Short answer to 4th question: YES! When students are encouraged or allowed to prepare healthy dishes at school, they make them their own. My housekeeper's son came with her a few weeks ago and he was really bored. I got him involved in making the zucchini patties from AR - the kid had never eaten a zuchini in his life - and here he was chowing down on them like they were his new favorite food! Sorry - I guess this isn't all that short!
 
Nick 
Aug. 17, 2010 11:30 pm
no its great I love the feedback :)
 
 
 
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Nick

Living In
Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

Member Since
Jul. 2009

Cooking Level
Expert

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Nouvelle, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Vegetarian, Dessert, Kids, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

Hobbies
Hiking/Camping, Camping, Biking, Walking, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting, Charity Work

Links
 
 
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About Me
way too much to type here...feel free to ask. Find me on facebook or email me! nheron357@yahoo.com
My favorite things to cook
BBQ,beef,pork,chicken, rabbit, duck, venison, asian cuisine, french cuisine, chinese, greek, desserts and pastries, hors d'oeuvres, snacks, all sorts of things
My favorite family cooking traditions
We ALWAYS have pie at the holidays
My cooking triumphs
cooking for enormous parties with my co workers...500-700+ people. I do it maybe 7-10 times a year...but everytime it amazes me the sheer volume of food and planning
My cooking tragedies
WE ALL HAVE THEM!! sooo many that i'd love to forget
 
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