Fab Food Show 4

Food

The Thomas Keller & Michael Ruhlman conversation was very interesting. I’ll elaborate when I get back to a full computer, not just my phone. Kellers new book, Ad Hoc at Home, is even more enlightening. I’ll get more to that was well. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE – 11/16/09

The format for this talk was an informal conversation. Both gentlemen sat in chairs at the front of the stage and basically talked back and forth and answered a few questions from the audience. The conversation started with talking about what it takes for a home cook to be a great cook. Keller stated that ingredient and technique will create great food. Get the freshest and best ingredients you can (and demand for them from your grocer). Learn the techniques; knife skills, pan skills (saute, braise, roast, etc.). Mainly learn the basics and repeat.

Repetition is the only way you will master something. If you keep making something new every time you cook you will never really get to know that dish and make it your own. That pretty much applies to many things. Chef Keller explained that consistency in a kitchen comes from the daily rituals and repetition of food preparation. And he said, a large amount dedication, commitment is required…it’s a lifestyle.

Seasoning. When asked what the most important ingredient in the kitchen would be, he quickly, and without hesitation, replied, “Salt.” He explained that salt elevates the flavor of everything, but can destroy a dish if over-salted. Ruhlman asked, “So how does one learn to use salt correctly?” and, of course Keller’s reply was, “Repetition.” As you use salt pay attention to what you are doing. Taste often, know what you like. Practice picking up salt with two, three and four fingers and dropping it into a measuring spoon. You’ll get used to knowing the amounts by sight.

Both Keller and Ruhlman talked about how home cooks shouldn’t be intimidated by foods or cooking. Keller stated that while he can certainly whip up a quick meal when there’s not much time, but he said taking time out to cook a nice slow dish. Something that requires patience.

I can really relate to that. When I have a weekend free to really cook, I like making a stock along with whatever else I’m making. For me, making stock, really good stock takes time. There’s also a lot of doing nothing for long periods of time while it simmers. My favorite “project” dish is gumbo. Making gumbo uses a lot of different cooking techniques from making a roux, prepping vegetables and meats, sauteing, etc. I like to start from scratch. A pile of vegetables, a whole chicken (maybe two), and some great smoked sausage.

Thomas also talked about the transformational aspect of cooking. Taking the time to really transform your ingredients. Near and dear to my heart, he used tripe as an example. From something stinky and tough, with patients, you can transform it into a light, tender delicacy. Hooray tripe (ahem, sorry).

So those were the highlights. Then, nearly the entire audience stayed for the autograph session, which lasted at least an hour. Nevertheless, it was a real pleasure to meet Thomas Keller and see Michael Ruhlman again.

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~ by JR Prospal on 14 November 2009.

2 Responses to “Fab Food Show 4”

  1. Thomas Keller! When and where exactly was this?

  2. This was in Cleveland at the Fabulous Food Show held at the I-X Center. Put it on your calendar for next year. http://www.fabulousfoodshow.com/

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