Monday, January 22, 2007

Playing With Your Food

Did anyone else happen to catch this dude on Iron Chef last night:

If not, his name is Homaro Cantu and his shtick is that he's the "Chef of the Future!" which means that he uses a lot of otherwise useless technology to make food weird. Or weirder than it is normally on Iron Chef, at any rate. He's a part of this whole molecular gastronomy craze that, starting with El Bulli in Spain, has swept through the kitchens of chefs that have an apparently endless amount of money and a bottomless reserve of time to fuck around in the kitchen. Cases in point from Cantu's Iron Chefery:

-He used some sort of fancypants printer that spits out blurry, not-very-appetizing pictures on edible paper. It's all very "cute;" example: he took a picture of he and his sous-chefs drinking horchata cocktails, then, using the printer, he made edible pictures that tasted like the horchata cocktail that he and his crew were drinking. And didn't he just blow your mind this time!!! That sort of preciousness makes me want to eat a steak with my bare hands.

-He filled balloons up with beet juice (beets were the secret ingredient), then rolled the balloons around in liquid nitrogen so they froze inside the balloons into these hollow, beet-juice domes. Which, by the way... beets = gross. Anyway, he then peeled off the balloons and that was like one whole dish. A frozen dome of beet juice and some beet yogurt. Seriously, gag.

-He used a class-4 laser... that's right, a fucking laser... to toast wontons. Wh... bu... how does that make any goddamn sense? Why do that? Why uses a piece of hardware that's got to cost somewhere in the high five figures to do a task that could easily be accomplished with a Bic lighter? If you've got a laser on you hands, for crap's sake at least shoot a chicken with it or something.

There was some other stuff too, but those were the big what-the-fucks of the evening. The kicker to all of this, and not to be Spoiler Boy or anything, is that he won!!! Against Morimoto, no less, who's been on Iron Chef since it was in Japan and is, by all rights, a total bad ass. Anyway, I guess my point is this: Can we try to keep all this bullshit futzing around with food to a minimum, please? Fresh ingredients, simply prepared with care, should be the high bar that all chefs should attempt to clear, in my estimation, and all this science lab-y stuff just distracts from all the good things about fine dining. Especially because fine dining is way to expensive as is, even before you add lasers to the mix.

P.S. Before anyone asks, the answer is: I am wildly unqualified to make any of the above claims. I have no formal background in the chefly arts, nor do I have, technically, any idea what I'm talking about. I'm basing any and all opinions on a lifetime spent watching the Food Network and the year's worth of experience that I have working as a pizza maker for Whole Foods. So, you know... just so that's out there. Honesty and all that. I may be an idiot, but I'm an idiot who's up-front about it.


Blogger CrimsonKing said...

I strongly agree with the "using the laser to kill a chicken" idea. Oh, and congrats on finishing The Stand, I'm still working on it.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Jonathan T said...

Would the chicken-killing laser be on a shark's freakin' head?

12:14 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

But of course.

1:47 PM  

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