Food in the New Year

I’m trying something different this year. Instead of resolutions, I’ve pulled together a list of things I can do without, and things I’d like to have in my life in the new year.

Out: fusion cuisine.  Adding lemon grass or chipotle powder to a dish doesn’t automatically make it fusion; many times it makes it awful.
In: good, basic French cooking.

Out: chef’s tastings. Ego on a plate, or 9 plates.
In: dazzle me with one spectacularly well-executed dish.

Out: vertical plating in restaurants. If my entree is pointlessly tall, the visual destroyed after I take the first bite,  I will mock you to my friends.
In: sensible plating that makes the most of the natural beauty of the dish. And your skills.

Out: the “latest diet”.
In: taking responsibility for what we put in our mouths.

Out: Paula Deen. Sorry, time’s up, y’all. And take your sons Darrell and Darrell with you.
In: Jacques Pepin, Tyler Florence,  Jamie Oliver, Ina Garten or Alton Brown, all of whom know their stuff and are more enjoyable to watch.

horinca.blogspot.comOut: supermarket sushi. If it has an expiration date on it, I pass.
In: learning how to make my own damn sushi. Or patronize a small, local place you can get to know and love.

Out: using “guys” to refer to mixed company. Hear me on this:  if you’re my waiter and you refer to me and my wife as “guys” it will cost you your tip. Same for asking “are you done workin’ on that?” Fer cryin’ out loud, it’s a meal not a construction project.
In:  how about using the term “folks”? No less personal and so much more appropriate. Or simply “you,” said with a smile.

Out: fat-free yogurt. Why would anyone eat this?
In: Greek yogurt. Remember, your body needs some fat every single day. Let it come from this.

Out: fried food more than once a week. Painful, I know, but it’s not good for us.
In: roasted. The more I roast, the more I like it.

Out: carob. Sorry, it’s not at all like chocolate, even with my eyes closed.
In: seriously rich, dark Swiss chocolate.

Out: fast food. Fast food denies us the meal experience.
In: slow down and enjoy the fun, the pleasure, the satisfaction found in a meal.

Out: exotic salts.
In: kosher salt. Period.

Out: plastic grocery bags.
In: buy some cloth bags, or better yet insulated bags, and keep them in your car. Many groceries will pay you to use them. Do so and the planet will thank you. And, while we’re on the topic of groceries,

Out: self check-out lines.  I’ll wait until the technology catches up with the idea.
In: any of the smiling faces I know behind the register who get me on my way with minimum of chat and even less hassle.

Out: that guy on the Travel Channel who eats weird stuff.  Please make him stop.Courtesy travelchannel.com
In: Anthony Bourdain.

Out: “focus-less” restaurants.
In: hit me with your idea the moment I walk in the door. It may not appeal to me but I’ll respect you in the morning.

Out: that “I can’t be bothered to cook” attitude, followed by take-out-on-speed-dial.
In: learn 3 simple, easy to prepare recipes and keep the ingredients in your pantry at all times.

Or, call me.

Kent McDonald, is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ.

Sushi pic courtesy horinca.blogspot.com
Andrew Zimmern pic courtesy travelchannel.com

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7 thoughts on “Food in the New Year

  1. Kent,

    At the risk of sounding hokey, you have somehow reached into my brain & pulled my culinary thoughts out & placed them in one magnificent blog post. I am not a trained chef, but I feel I think like one at times, and these INS & OUTS reflect my opinions exactly. And from the “pen” of a wonderful chef such as yourself, I have new-found validity to these notions.

    If I can swing it, I’ll grab Rachel Ray, hold her down until you & Chef Bourdain can get here to flog her (for 30 minutes, of course) with orange-handled cheap kitchen tools.

    Bravo, Chef!

  2. I agree with oboerista–but I wanna hold down the guy who does “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with his glasses on backwards and let you pour 40 gallons of cheap marinara sauce over him. A challenge for the Top Chef show contestants is to clean him up with Rachel Ray’s orange-handled implements while being abused by Simon Cowell. I am SOOOO tired of paying cable TV fees to watch other people eat.

  3. Not a Rachel Ray fan what-so-ever. She has to be on the OUT list. However, have to add Bobby Flay to the IN list. I had dinner at his Mesa Grill a few times….phenominal!

    Also, given the economy, have to add “comfort foods” to the IN list. People getting back to slow-cooking and making traditional favorites like Slovak Chicken, Pierogies, etc.

    I will ALWAYS reduce a server’s tip if he/ she says “do you need change?” Never assume.

  4. –Looks like I’m not the only one who’s tired of Rachael “motor mouth” Ray. Bobby Flay I can take in small doses…he has a bit too much ‘tude for me, but there’s no denying his skill on the grill. As a Personal Chef, I’m always amazed at the demand for “comfort food”, but I’m not certain the economy will mean more folks with turn to slow cooking, as we still live in a clock-driven society.

    “Do I need change?” Yes, the answer will always be yes.

    –Kent

  5. This is absolutely spot on. It seems so relevant, given the state of things these days. I would add: growing one’s own veggies, with a Victory garden sort of pride. Thanks to Dara for posting this on Facebook, where I was delighted by discovering it. Thanks, Kent.

  6. –thanks, Jill. And I agree with the garden idea. I’m new to the southwest where the growing cycles are much different. We’re looking at harvesting our pot-garden “spring tomatoes” about this time next month, the orange and lemon trees will be ready to harvest any day now, and the fig tree just shed it’s last leaf and sprouted its first real fig. And not one weed to be seen!

    –Kent

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