Thursday, 9 February 2012

Clash of the Chefs


Food is instrumental to our survival, yet it has now become more than a commodity, leaning towards the status of 'Institution'. It is an art form. A creative entity. It inspires television programmes, books, magazines, blogs and even movies. It isn't enough to need food to keep our bodies going anymore, we need it as a past-time, a hobby, a means to feel complete and a way of also separating ourselves from those less fortunate than ourselves. Yes, food has become a class divider however, that is a post for a different day. Right now, I'm more interested in the two camps of cooking.

When I want to eat, I separate it into two modes, my cooking - which I take from a recipe that I have found online or in my cookery books - and dining out.
When I cook, I do it to inspire Mr H, to demonstrate my ever-growing skills in the kitchen and to create new flavours. It also has a calming effect on me.
When we go out for food, it's either because I have no inspiration that day or because my culinary skills have yet to reach the level of preparing scallops.
Now, for my part, I like to cook with love and when I dine out, I like to eat the food and feel the love. This is where there is a problem, a divide. On the one side you have the Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver types and the bloggers and on the other side, you have the Michelin star chefs and Gordon Ramsey. The way they cook differs hugely....

Gordon stresses me out. When I see him start to cook on Kitchen Nightmares, or if I watch him on one of his travelling cookery shows, I get heart palpitations wondering when he'll start swearing at the onions. I feel worried when he gets the knifes out, I mean come on, spare a thought for the poor peppers as he rips into them. Surely a man with so much violence and anger must be pouring some of that rage into his food? You can see the gammon shrink away from him on the plate.
Now Jamie, ooooh. Whenever he cooks I see herbs skipping merrily towards him ready to embrace his pestle and mortar. Chickens and lamps jump readily into his oven begging for the warmth and a touch of salt. Every dish is produced with love and joy. When eaten, one might just cry from the passion of it all. It's the same with most bloggers, the adoration they have for their ingredients means that their recipes are ones to cherish and keep. They let flavours and memories make the dish, not fancy words and dry ice (not that I don't love Heston).
The trouble with these Michelin chefs is that though I am sure their food is divine, food of the gods, I can't help feeling that they are purely making food to prove their elitism and to prove their ability rather than creating dishes with gay abundance. But, without these crusaders of food design, I suppose we wouldn't have such a diverse range of dishes.

I think that is one of the reasons why I love Australian Masterchef so much. They have the balance just right. Those guys pour their souls into their food as well as their creative excellence. They cry over their dishes, laugh over their dishes and choose a style of cooking that is personal to them. I can only hope that South African Masterchef will be based on the same fundamentals.

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