Saturday, May 30, 2009

The real credit isn't ours

Alright guys, I have to clear the air. People keep telling us how great our food is. How talented we are...yada, yada, yada. The problem is this. It's not us. Really. And, I'm not trying to put over any false humility. No, The real genius'. The ones who should get the credit to our great food are the farmers and producers in Northern Michigan in particular and Michigan in general.
One cannot over emphasise the importance of great quality products with which to work. Ecsoffier has a great passage in his legendary cookbook that says no matter how talented a chef may be, that talent will not be enough to make great food out of inferior product. Marco Pierre White is fond of saying that nature is the true artist in the kitchen, which is his was of saying superior raw products is what makes superior food. And I have always maintained that a mediocre cook can make good food if he starts with great product but a great cook can only make mediocre food if he starts with poor product.
Now, don't misunderstand me. It does take some skill to use the products we get and make something good out of them, but there is more than skill required by the cook. The cook needs to learn to trust great products and allow them to speak for themselves. Far to often cooks add unnecessary editions to a dish because they do not trust the product. Take the asparagus soup we currently have on the menu. I have seen numerous recipes for asparagus soup, and everything from cream to Worcestershire sauce added to it. The problem with these recipes is not a one of them trusts the asparagus to make it's own amazing soup. You see, when we make the soup for our menu it's just asparagus, water, and salt that goes into it, and our guests do back flips over it. We use the freshest asparagus lovingly grown by the people at Ware Farm. They are the ones who get the credit for such an amazing soup. All we do is cook it and puree. Very simple. The difference between our soup and others soup is we trust the asparagus to have an amazing flavor on its own.
I want to challenge you. The farmer's markets are getting into full swing. Sometime in the couple weeks take a trip to your local market and pick out some produce or anything else that strikes your fancy, whether it be eggs, bacon, honey, asparagus, spinach, or whatever. Take it home and make something out of it, with the challenge being to trust your product. Don't fall into the trap of thinking more is better. Remember, a great cook knows when not to add something. Now go out and cook!

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