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Old 07-25-2009, 08:06 AM   #1
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Making food too complicated

Not that I haven't prepared complicated dishes before, but in general I like my food simple - only butter on an English muffin, only salt and pepper on a good steak (sauce is only for bad meat. If you want the flavor of steak sauce, you should put the steak back into the 'fridge and pull out a package of hamburger.) And a problem I've noticed while watching these "television best chef reality competitions", is these want-a-be Emeril Lagasies try to use too many ingredients and layer in too many flavors, turning their dish into mush. And sometimes, in an awkward way, the judges try to explain that problem to them, but it just goes right over their heads. And many of us viewers recognize what they are doing - they're cooking beyond their skill level while trying to be "cutting edge" when they can't even properly fix simple common dishes. Being caught up with access to and trying to use virtually every spice or flavor in the world all in one dish is like creating an oil painting and not knowing when to stop - ending up with a muddy mess! Experimenting with new flavor combinations is fine, as long as you're well grounded in the basics first. Idiots often say, "Well, rules are meant to be broken!" That's fine as long as you know how to use and play by the rules in the first place! - which none of them seem to do!

This is just my venting frustration at all of these TV prima donnas who can't even properly cook a fried egg!

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Old 07-25-2009, 08:09 AM   #2
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Sometimes "simple" is the best way depending on the dish. I know change can be good, but I find I tend to like the "original" version of most things. For example something so simple as iced tea - don't give me all kinds of different flavors - just give me regular old fashioned iced tea. I guess I'm not very innovative
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:30 AM   #3
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I agree that you should never have to mask the flavor of a dish by adding a sauce that completely changes the flavor.

They are supposed to be designed to increase the flavor not to hide it. I also agree that sometimes Chefs not just on TV, try to dazzle us all by buidling on flavor after flavor, which does work sometimes, but misses the goal other times.

A Chef does need to know the basics starting with knife skills, product identification, how to build a mother sauce and then like an artist, learn how to match up/pair flavors together.
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:07 AM   #4
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In my college music theory class, I learned about the Mack Truck Theory: one puts all their ideas into one composition because they may go out, cross the street and get hit by a Mack Truck...
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:44 AM   #5
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This is one of the reasons I appreciate the ICA series - no matter how complex or innovative the dishes are, if the chef loses sight of the secret ingredient, the judges are going to pummel him for it.
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:44 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Arky View Post
Not that I haven't prepared complicated dishes before, but in general I like my food simple - only butter on an English muffin, only salt and pepper on a good steak (sauce is only for bad meat. If you want the flavor of steak sauce, you should put the steak back into the 'fridge and pull out a package of hamburger.) And a problem I've noticed while watching these "television best chef reality competitions", is these want-a-be Emeril Lagasies try to use too many ingredients and layer in too many flavors, turning their dish into mush. And sometimes, in an awkward way, the judges try to explain that problem to them, but it just goes right over their heads. And many of us viewers recognize what they are doing - they're cooking beyond their skill level while trying to be "cutting edge" when they can't even properly fix simple common dishes. Being caught up with access to and trying to use virtually every spice or flavor in the world all in one dish is like creating an oil painting and not knowing when to stop - ending up with a muddy mess! Experimenting with new flavor combinations is fine, as long as you're well grounded in the basics first. Idiots often say, "Well, rules are meant to be broken!" That's fine as long as you know how to use and play by the rules in the first place! - which none of them seem to do!

This is just my venting frustration at all of these TV prima donnas who can't even properly cook a fried egg!
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:48 AM   #7
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While I may agree in general, Arky, with what you say, there's a lot of presumptions going on. If we were in the same situations we truly don't know, for sure, exactly how we would handle them. We think we know...but we really don't until we are "there." I have a problem with making such a general/broad statement about their lack of ability, which we really don't have a clue either. Under pressure they may crack...but they still may know how to fry an egg and make basic dishes. These competition type shows don't want basic dishes...they want something inventive and different. With that comes a lot of failure. It's a learning curve and unfortunately we all get to watch it.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:43 AM   #8
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I love good Sashimi is about as simple as you can get. But a lot of thought goes into every detail but it is just sliced fish.

I also love the complex flavors of Indian Cuisine.

What I don't like is when a “chef” tries to complicate a simple dish with ingredients rather than using a better technique. Hummus is a simple dish but I see all kinds of crazy recipes some of which do not have any chick peas. To make a better Hummus cook your own chick peas. Make an emulsion of some of the cooking liquid, Tahini and lemon juice with a stick blender. Simple but amazing.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:51 AM   #9
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But at the same time, quite often the judges are imploring the contestants to
Bring it On!
Show Us Your Best!
Innovate!
Go Out on A Limb!

So the contestants feel like their best isn't good enough and they push themselves too far... which then lets the judges criticize them for doing exactly what the judges told them to do.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:19 PM   #10
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But at the same time, quite often the judges are imploring the contestants to
Bring it On!
Show Us Your Best!
Innovate!
Go Out on A Limb!

So the contestants feel like their best isn't good enough and they push themselves too far... which then lets the judges criticize them for doing exactly what the judges told them to do.
Amen! Right on the money..Wouldn't you love to line up the judges and say here cook this for me? Then let them have it with both barrels?
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:22 PM   #11
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But, it makes for great TV! Especially those little advertisement clips...
hmmmm, do ya think they do it on purpose???? (O.K., maybe not "great")
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Old 07-25-2009, 01:58 PM   #12
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I think it would be good if a chef, media chef or regular, had to earn that toque like they did back in the day. Show me how to make an egg 100 different ways and then I will call you chef and allow you to wear the chefs hat. Otherwise, its the pillsbury doughboy hat for you forever.
Remember kiddies, the higher the hat, the lower you bow. LOL
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:54 PM   #13
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To me it is seasonal. Right now my peppers and tomatoes are just starting to ripen. My herbs are at their height. And, yes, simple IS better when you have great produce at your fingertips. But here in NW IL, that is about one or two months out of the year. I have no air conditioning, so I enjoy spending a little more time on sauces and such in the winter, when there isn't such a thing as a great tomato, and my peppers are all dried. At that point, more complicated sauces and such are fun to play with and give some great flavor to blah produce, plus warm up the house, my family and friends.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:16 PM   #14
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There are some times where a two- or three ingredient dish is all you need. Simple dinners after work totally rule. You don't spend a day and a half procuring ingredients as long as you have a well-stocked pantry. I think the cooking shows are starting to reflect this.

Do you ever watch Everyday Food? It's a PBS show spinoff of the Martha Stewart small-format magazine. The ingredient lists are purposely short and the techniques are simple and quick.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:24 PM   #15
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Haha ... I'm a meat-n-taters man at heart ... only 2 ingredients Give me a steak and a potato with only seasoning as another ingredient (and some butter for my tater). BBQ chicken or ribs, not heavy on ingredients unless you include the seasoning.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:43 PM   #16
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Haha ... I'm a meat-n-taters man at heart ... only 2 ingredients Give me a steak and a potato with only seasoning as another ingredient (and some butter for my tater). BBQ chicken or ribs, not heavy on ingredients unless you include the seasoning.
Wow - you're easy to please!
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Old 08-09-2009, 04:09 PM   #17
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Wow - you're easy to please!

Sometimes Other times I still like my steak au poivre
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:21 AM   #18
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I agree that the best things in life are usually the simple ones and this of cause applies to cooking but don't you think the reason for all these over complicated recipes is TV? It's what people want to see. If you was to watch someone on tv season a steak with salt & pepper and then fry for 3-4 minutes I'm sure you wouldn't be coming back for more the next week. People like to watch creativity and something just a little different even if it doesn't necessarily mean you will try it at home.

Anyway I'm just putting out some thoughts and would be interested to hear if you think TV is to blame.
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:38 AM   #19
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I agree that the best things in life are usually the simple ones and this of cause applies to cooking but don't you think the reason for all these over complicated recipes is TV? It's what people want to see. If you was to watch someone on tv season a steak with salt & pepper and then fry for 3-4 minutes I'm sure you wouldn't be coming back for more the next week. People like to watch creativity and something just a little different even if it doesn't necessarily mean you will try it at home.

Anyway I'm just putting out some thoughts and would be interested to hear if you think TV is to blame.
Not sure if I'd write every complicated recipe off to TV. I've written recipes for holiday foods or celebration foods that had very long ingredient lists but it's because I was going for complex flavors.

Take a recipe for gingerbread cookies. I've never seen one that didn't look like the War & Peace of recipes but it's because there are about 8 different spices included - not much of each but they are all necessary to create that gingerbread flavor. Even the French dish, cassoulet, which no doubt started out as a French peasant wife's way to use up leftovers - is a verrrry long recipe. But it's an incredible dish...LOL.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:40 AM   #20
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Not sure if I'd write every complicated recipe off to TV. I've written recipes for holiday foods or celebration foods that had very long ingredient lists but it's because I was going for complex flavors.

Take a recipe for gingerbread cookies. I've never seen one that didn't look like the War & Peace of recipes but it's because there are about 8 different spices included - not much of each but they are all necessary to create that gingerbread flavor. Even the French dish, cassoulet, which no doubt started out as a French peasant wife's way to use up leftovers - is a verrrry long recipe. But it's an incredible dish...LOL.
Hi Chiffonade, hope you're well?

I think I put it the wrong way. I wasn't meaning every complicated recipe is tv's fault but more that tv shows have to feature complicated recipes to make it appear interesting. It makes for good viewing.
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