Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Cult of the Celebrity Chef

Our world is enamored with the celebrity chef.  Which is interesting because, rumor has it that we (Americans) are spending less and less time cooking.  So, what's the attraction?  Is it what we aspire too, is it education, recreation, is it that they make gourmet meals look so easy...or is it purely entertainment? Cooking shows continue to thrive and multiply, celebrity chefs are promoting recipes and products from Domino's cheesy bread to healthy recipes for kids to recipes using almost every convenience product on the market to endorsing prescription medications.  

As a recipe developer first and foremost, I often wonder: What we are really looking for?  When it's time to actually get dinner on the table, where do we go for recipes and what do we want?  I think what we really want, is for that Celeb Chef to come on over and cook dinner for us!

Personally, I don't think a recipe has to be complicated or have tons of ingredients to be good, or even great.  Sometimes, the very thing that makes a recipe great is the simplicity.  Often, when I follow a recipe, the first thing I do is look for I really need that step, or all of those ingredients?   For example, I've been making a classic biscotti for years using a recipe that I found in Bon Appetit magazine.  It calls for chopping almonds and toasting them before adding to the dough. I found that when you add whole almonds to the dough, the Kitchen Aid does a decent job of coarsely chopping them,while mixing them in.  Biscotti are always twice baked so the almonds get nicely toasted during the second bake.  The recipe has become a bit more simple, and flavor hasn't been compromised.

Or take eggplant...a chef-y approach has you peel it, salt it, rinse it, dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, then wonder very few want to undertake that!

My approach.  Don't peel it, thinly slice, dip in egg then salt free seasoned bread crumbs.  Place on baking sheets, drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees until tender inside and crisp outside.
There you have it - the beginnings of eggplant parm, eggplant rollatini, eggplant pizza, eggplant sandwiches...and a lot more time on your hands.

Now, take this all with a grain of salt.  I do hope this phenomenon is more than mere entertainment.  I hope that these chefs, along with other wonderful cooks in your life - like your mom, or dad, or grandmother - do inspire, do raise the bar, and do get people back into the kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. That eggplant looks great! I always get mine from the deli because I cant seem to do it well myself...I'll try this recipe soon!