Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alinea: The Beginning of Something New

Last week Jeff and I visited Alinea restaurant in Chicago for our 15th anniversary. It had been a bucket list item for a while and we figured this was just the opportunity to drop $500 on dinner that we needed. The restaurant, which was conceived of by acclaimed chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, is best described as what you'd expect a gourmet restaurant to look like and be like in a Lewis Carroll version of Through the Culinary Looking Glass. The design of the building and of the service wear is sleek, the servers and staff elegantly dressed, the food nothing short of theatrical.

The meal consisted of 15 courses of whimsical, inspired food that was more than just something to eat, but rather something to be experienced. I was skeptical of the molecular gastronomy aspect of the food here because I have on several occasions been disappointed by the level of flavor in comparison to the complexity of a dish but there was no lack of flavor here. I asked the server what Alinea means and he explained that it was the symbol for the beginning of a paragraph. The idea behind naming the restaurant as such being that each course was the beginning of something new. The napkins were plain white with the symbol of Alinea embroidered on them, a constant reminder that we were experiencing things that are novel and genius.

We arrived a little early for our reservation and when we got to the building we were a bit unsure that we had gotten to the correct location. The building is completely nondescript. No sign, nothing to indicate that inside was a 5 star restaurant. I suspect this is intentional as you have to have a reservation to dine here and they wouldn't want walk ins.

As if right on cue, the doors opened at 5:30pm. When we entered, this is what we saw. 

The vases were filled with dried herbs of various kinds creating a wonderful aroma as you walk in. The lighting and mood is immediately set and you know you are in for something highly unusual. 

As you enter the kitchen is immediately to the right. They encourage you to look in, say hi and take photos. 

A very sizeable staff in the kitchen considering they serve only about 80 people a night a 15 course taster menu. That being said, the menu is quite complicated and involves a lot of intricate detail. 

Once we headed up to our table we were greeted by a sommelier, head waiter and additional wait staff numbering about 5 per room of 6 tables. They not only replaced our utensils after each course, they also wiped the table clean between courses. In watching the staff handle several tables at a time, including a couple of tables with dietary restrictions, it became evident that this is a highly trained staff that is dancing a highly choreographed piece keeping everything straight and the timing was impeccable.

Our menu was as follows: The courses appear in order. The circles indicate the size of the item and the situation right or left the sweetness. Those on the left being the more savory and those on the right the sweet. 

Note they brought this to us at the end of the meal. It had on the top "Happy 15th Anniversary" and the date and they had the chef sign it. I thought that was tremendously classy. 

One of the things I thought was an interesting touch was that the utensils were placed on a little pillow. I presume to both protect the utensils and the table. 

Our first course was a little amuse bouche of Osetra Caviar on a little spoon with creme fraiche. The perfect little bite to stimulate your senses and wake up your palate. Slightly salty and slightly sweet with a hint of creamy. 

The next course was rabbit with cherry blossoms, smoke and wasabi. The radish and wasabi added heat, cherry blossoms sweetness and the rabbit was almost like bacon bits. Lots of different textures dancing around in your mouth.

The third course began the theatrical nature of the meal. Entitled Scallop: Citrus Aroma, Fourteen Texture, the dish arrived in a cauldron bubbling with dry ice. You couldn't even see the what was in there without blowing the dry ice out of the way. 

What was revealed was a shell filled with scallop and seaweed around the shell, covering the dry ice. Incredibly dramatic. 

The contrasting textures, flavors and aromas against the creamy scallop were a triumph. 

Next, Dungeness crab with squash blossom, cardamom and saffron. This one came to the table with the intense floral aroma of saffron. The flavors of the sweet crab paired with the exotic Indian nuance of the cardamom were fantastic and the crispy squash blossom a great seasonal garnish. Again, the play of textures was super, with creamy, crunchy and chewy. 

The drama continued with the following course which arrived on fire. A Japanese log was placed on slate and coal lit with fire. Four little bites were perched on the log and served with chopsticks. The first a bite of crispy pork belly, next a delicious morsel of wagyu beef, then a seared sea bass and finally a crunchy fish head (which was Jeff's least favorite item). I enjoyed them all but we both agreed the wagyu beef was amazing. 

The sixth course was the veal cheeks with lapsang souchong, pine and blackberry. This one was an olfactory triumph. The second it was brought near you could smell the pine immediately. What we noticed was that all the smells of the evening really put you in a specific time and place. This one was the most distinct though. It also happened to be Jeff's favorite course. The veal was delectable.

Hot potato cold potato was my least favorite of the courses, not because it wasn't good, but just because it was the least inventive of the bunch. The service ware itself was genius. You pull the little pin holding the hot potato and when it comes out the hot potato drops into the cold vichyssoise. Then you eat it quickly so you get the contrast in temperature between the two. Fun, delicious, simple. 

The next course was my favorite. This one will blow your mind. It's simply called Duck ???????? !!!!!!!!!. The duck was served 5 ways, seared fois gras, pate, breast, confit and some kind of other almost duck salad. Then they serve it with a ton of different little garnishes. The point is that you can mix and match however you like and try different ones on different pieces of duck. It is an interactive experience, delicious and super fun. Like being a kid with a bunch of crayons, only they are edible. Jeff and I had a field day. We tried all of the garnishes. Oh, and the duck jus poured over the duck was delectable as is without any of the garnishes.  

The last of the savory courses was a little ravioli. It arrived on a hollow plate suspended on a spoon. They called it Truffle Explosion and warned us to eat the whole thing in one bite and don't open your mouth. It was just that. A liquid explosion of pure truffle flavor inside of the delicate ravioli. Oh. My. God. 

Then a palate cleanser of sorts. This fascinating little contraption which looked like fingers arrived with 5 tiny little bites of ginger with various different flavors from savory to salty to smoky to sweet. The perfect way to clear your palate and move you from savory to sweet. Again, the special service ware throughout the meal was part of the art. Truly amazing. 

The first of the sweet courses was probably the most amusing, at least for the others in the room who were observing. It is a helium balloon made out of green apple taffy. The helium itself is scented with green apple. They instruct you to kiss the balloon and inhale the helium. Then they want you to talk. Jeff and I immediately started giggling and I must have sounded like Mickey Mouse because the table next to us started roaring. The balloon was sticky and delicious. And they even though of the little touch to bring us warm towels to wash off with afterward so we weren't sticky for the next course. I tell you, attention to detail was superior here. 

The second of the sweet items was called strawberry with sorrel, sassafras and pine nut. The server called it frozen strawberry granola, which is essentially what it was. Jeff LOVED this one. I got brain freeze, but it was delicious. Not overly sweet and super crunchy. 

The second to last course was a raspberry fizz. Served in a glass bottle with a glass straw that had rose petal in it. It was fun, fruity, light, frothy. Not revolutionary, but a neat touch. 

And the finale. The finale. This. 

It began with placing a silicone table cloth over the table. Then they brought a bunch of little bowls with all kinds of ingredients to the table. Then one of the chefs came out and proceeded to paint our dessert onto the table. I kid you not. It is truly a work of art. 

The center is a milk chocolate mousse with a pate sucre crust underneath, creme fraiche, freeze dried hazelnut and the purple a violet puree. It all started liquid and the freezes up. Unbelievable. 

Another view because it is just beautiful. And you just literally eat it off the table. It was a huge serving but we ate it all. 

And a close up. Just genius. I still can't believe it happened. 

So that was it. The whole meal took about 3 hours from beginning to end. We didn't do the full wine pairing but rather a modified pairing which the sommelier graciously orchestrated for us so we didn't get too tipsy. Did the meal change my life?? No. Was it worth every penny and something I'll remember forever?? Absolutely. What they do is something only possible in the context of the system they have developed. It isn't me and what I do as a chef. I can learn from it sure. I can be inspired by it. But I will never do this kind of food. I appreciate molecular gastronomy when it is executed well, especially when the food is as delicious and creative as this was. However, it does not fit my model of fresh, local ingredients prepared in a Mediterranean style. My food is simple, elegant and flavorful above all else, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. Sometimes I do like getting theatrical, as I did with my Dr. Seuss menu, but even within that structure, there is nothing chemical about it. It is all fresh food, prepared by me, by hand, no gimmicks. And I do not say this to diminish anything we had at Alinea. It truly was an amazing experience. I'd recommend anyone who loves food, who loves the theater of food, to go at least once. You won't regret it. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Very Big Night

For any of you who who love food and have not yet seen the movie "Big Night" starring Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci, you are doing yourselves a great disservice. This is probably one of the foodie movies with the most cult like following. The food depicted in the movie is down right foodgasmic. Food porn at its best. Las weekend Jeff and I paid tribute to the movie by staging our very own "Big Night" dinner featuring some of the dishes from the movie. While we didn't do the entire menu because of both time, space and resources, we tried to remain true. The group present was super enthusiastic and a great time had by all.

Our first course was a delicious and simple crostini with herbed fresh goat cheese, roasted pepper, crispy kale and balsamic. The perfect way to whet the appetite and prepare your stomach for a serious food orgy.

Next, a light minestrone, featuring fresh vegetables from the farm, including beet tops and squash of various kinds. I resist the temptation to call minestrone "garbage soup" as many have often referred to it. There is no reason this should be reserved for using leftovers. It is a super vehicle for fresh vegetables in season. Simple, elegant and delicious. The stars of the dish are the umami from the pancetta and the finish of a fantastic high quality freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. 

Next up, a risotto trio featuring a seafood risotto, parmesan risotto and pesto risotto, served on a platter to represent the Italian flag. I will note, making three kinds of risotto at once is a little daunting, but they turned out super. The risotto is a great bone of contention between the brothers in the movie as the 1950's era American audience just doesn't know what to make of it. One brother suggests they remove it from the menu. The main brother who is the chef suggests rather sarcastically that they should replace it with "hot dogs." Needless to say, nobody is putting hot dogs on the menu here at CSI.

The biggest crowd pleasure, and most complicated menu item on the roster, was the timpano. Timpano, which literally means timpani drum, is essentially a pasta bake with hard boiled eggs, meatballs, cheese, salami, home made marinara and penne encased in a very large pasta blanket, baked and then turned out and sliced. It is a belly bomb, but a delicious one. And it sure makes a heck of a presentation. We got applause for this one. 

The salmon with moscato grape sauce was so popular I wasn't able to get a photo before half of it had already been devoured. Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon, baked to perfection and topped with a beautiful pink grape sauce. Sweet and savory, succulent, and delicious.

Next up, cornish hens with parmesan roasted asparagus. The hens were moist and the asparagus super fresh, straight from the farm. Simple, but you can't go wrong with quality ingredients. 

The grand finale?? Tiramisu. Made with luscious ladyfingers, smooth and creamy mascarpone, coffee and chocolate. The real thing, made from scratch, is the most delicate dessert. So often restaurants substitute sponge cake or other heavier cakes and it turns out dry. That's not how it should be. By this point in the meal, many were full, but most stuffed the dessert down with abandon. 

"To Eat Good Food is to Be Close to God." - Primo, Big Night

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paprika: Not Just A Garnish For Deviled Eggs

I use a LOT of paprika in my cooking. I am Hungarian and grew up with a grandmother who cooked classic Hungarian fare so that may have something to do with it. It always surprises my cooking class students that paprika has a flavor because they are accustomed to the brown stuff in the Schilling or Mccormick bottles that are scentless and flavorless. Let's be honest, these companies aren't exactly sourcing the highest quality spices and their spices often sit on store shelves for far longer than they should. 6 months to a year is about as long as you want your spices to sit around before they begin to lose substantial flavor.

Hungary is the leading producer of paprika which is basically dried and ground peppers of various kinds. It is utilized in the cuisines of many different cultures from Indian to Moroccan to Hungarian. There isn't just one kind of paprika, but rather a number of different kinds that range from sweet to hot to smoked and not smoked. The grading in Hungary is as follows:

Kulonleges or Unusual
Csiposmentes Csemege which is mild in flavor and can vary in color
Csemegepaprika which tends to be a little stronger flavored
Csipos Csemege, Pikans which is spicy
Rosza which is a lighter color
Edesnemes which is sweet and is the most often exported
Feledes which is a combination of sweet and spicy
Eros which is the strongest flavored

Paprika is also grown in Spain as well as a few other countries in limited quantities. I am a purist though and always buy Hungarian. Good sources include Penzey's, Spice World and of course, my go to source,

Paprika, and all your dried herbs and spices for that matter, should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight in an airtight container. This will insure that you do not lose flavor to oxygen or color due to sunlight. Never freeze or refrigerate your spices as the cold will actually mute the flavor and destroy the cellular structure of the spices. And contrary to what you may see in kitchen design stores, keeping your spices in a drawer next to your oven is a terrible idea. It will destroy them.

I use paprika in everything from stews to soups to meats. For best flavor, you should add the spice to the heat and toast it prior to adding any liquid. This will bring out the essential oils from the spices which is where all the flavor is.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Frustrated Vegetable Lover

Dear Restaurants, 

I have a serious beef with many of you. It seems as though you are ignoring the salad course. You treat it like an after thought rather than an important component of your menu. You skimp on ingredients and try to plate it as cheaply and unimaginatively as possible. 

First of all, iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a slice of cucumber and a packaged dressing is not a salad. In fact, we should basically call it hydrating as iceberg lettuce is made up of almost entirely water. That being said, I like iceberg lettuce. In fact I use it sometimes on sandwiches because it gives good crunch. Just don't call it a salad. 

Second, please stop drowning your greens in dressing. I don't care how great your house dressing is. If you totally submerge the greens in it, the greens are overwhelmed and no longer crunchy. You might as well drink a vinaigrette soup. 

Third, please add some pizzazz to your salads. Even if it is just some nuts and maybe a fruit of some kind, give me something besides just greens. 

Next, a salad should not be limited to just greens with toppings. Any vegetable can be turned into a salad. If there is anything I have learned from the Mediterranean cultures of the world, it is that salads are as varied and individual as people are. You can have hot salads, cold salads, creamy dressings, light vinaigrettes, arranged salads, tossed salads, you name it. There is no boundary. Some of my favorite salads in fact don't even have greens in them. Asparagus, roasted beets, brussel sprouts, roasted peppers, eggplant, radishes, oranges, you name it, they make great salads. 

Also, if you use cheese on a salad, please make it delicious cheese. I don't even necessarily mean make it yourself, just make sure it is a star. The salty and fatty composition of the cheese is intended to accentuate the greens and complement them, not overwhelm them. And by all means, please no processed impostor posing as cheese. 

Finally, I applaud the fact that there are a myriad of "baby greens" mixes that are now commercially available. And I'm ecstatic that restaurants use them. But don't forget, there are a ton of other spectacular options out there that many don't even know about that can accentuate your salad, like arugula, radicchio, claytonia, beet greens, radish greens and baby kale. These are not only delicious in flavor, but many offer super health benefits. Incorporating them into salads is one of the best ways to sneak them in and kick up the nutritional value of your salad. 

Call me kooky but when I get a great salad, it can be the highlight of a meal for me. To me the ultimate test of a chef isn't if they can prepare a good steak or grill a chicken breast. That involves nothing more than proper temperature and knowing when to pull the meat off. The true test of a chef is how they can transform a vegetable into something fantastic and one of the best arenas for this kind of artistic expression is in the salad department. 

P.S. Battering and frying said vegetables doesn't count. 


Frustrated Vegetable Lover 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Women Chefs: Inequality in the Kitchen

Much as been made about women's equality of late, including equal pay for equal work. In a society that has supposedly made great strides in gender equality, there remains a lot of work to be done in truly insuring said equality. One of the areas that seems to be highly reflective of this gender inequality is that of the culinary world. I'm not talking about celebrity chefs and bloggers. I'm talking about actual chefs, who own their own restaurants and who gain international acclaim for their restaurants.

Every year various publications come out with their lists of favorite restaurants and chefs. Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, James Beard, Zagat, the list goes on and on. I always peruse these lists to see which restaurants I would like to add to my bucket list. Each time I read through the nominees I am struck by how few women they select. There may be a couple of token females, but the vast majority of those on the lists are men.

I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago and two questions came to mind. One. Is the lack of female recognition some kind of bias against females in the industry? Or, two. Are there just so few women at the helm of great restaurants that by sheer numbers they cannot compete? Either way, something is wrong with the picture.

Consider these facts. According to some recent articles on the matter, women represent approximately 50% of those enrolled in culinary schools. They are outnumbered in regular culinary programs by men but in the baking department they make up almost 80% of those enrolled. So the trouble does not lie in the number of those who are actively seeking to find careers in the field of culinary arts. While numbers vary, several sources state that only approximately 15% of executive chefs of independent restaurants are women. That is an alarmingly low number.

It has been suggested that many of those women who graduate from culinary schools end up working at chain restaurants or hotels and some end up not pursuing careers in the food industry at all. The typical response to the question of why seems to be the same one plaguing other industries that seem to have a bias against women. First, women end up quitting to start families and they cannot be pregnant or mothers and maintain a full time job. While I get that chefs work long hard hours, this supposes that most women decide to have families and are thereby automatically discriminated against. Not so. More and more women today are opting to not get married and are starting families later or not at all so that they can pursue careers.

A second common response is that women are somehow physically inferior to men and incapable of hacking the long hours, heat and physical labor necessary to be a chef. That's kind of like saying women aren't capable of becoming good soldiers because they are weaker than men are. That makes absolutely no sense. Many women are not only as physically fit as men, but are often more capable of multi-tasking than men, which would make them excellent candidates for running a restaurant. To that notion, I cry foul.

Thirdly, women are routinely harassed in the context of the kitchen so some feel as though there is no place for them there or they will be treated poorly. Again, that's the same logic that says women are dangerous because they cause men to behave badly. A completely reverse argument that has no merit. Why can't men learn to behave like decent human beings and treat women with the equal respect they deserve? For this I blame men, not women, and we shouldn't suffer because of it. I say, grow up men. Disclaimer: I am happily married to a wonderful man who is very respectful of women and am quite aware that not all men fall into this category of behavior. I am just generalizing.

Historically there has also been a bias between the public and private arenas of the kitchen. Within the home, the kitchen is often considered to be the woman's domain. Women in many cultures for centuries prepared the food for their families and passed their recipes down from one generation to the next. In the mid-1900's, however, women increasingly got out of the kitchen and pursued jobs outside the house, freeing themselves from the private domain. It makes sense, therefore, that they should also seek to take those very skills that suited them so well in the private domain and utilize them in the public domain.

The hitch in that giddy up is that the formal restaurant structure that goes all the way back to Marie-Antoine Careme in 1800's France was built around men and haute cuisine has historically been a man's world. This has persisted into 20th and 21st century Europe and America with few exceptions. Strong women like Alice Waters and Susan Feniger have succeeded despite the bias, mostly because they were able to distinguish themselves as something completely unique and new in the industry as a whole.

I don't know what the solution is, nor do I think I am going to change it, but it certainly is indicative of something that we all sense in the society as a whole. I am proud to have my small place in the industry and to represent the minority as a woman who runs her own kitchen. I hope that at some point there will be more equity in the culinary world as with the world at large. Perhaps sometime in my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not All Caprese Salads Are The Same

I just returned from a week long trip to Vegas and while there I noticed a trend. Just about every restaurant I went to served a version of a Mozzarella Caprese salad from the more casual spots to higher end places like Valentino's and Gallagher's. My friend and I are caprese junkies so we decided to conduct a very professional survey of the array of capreses we found. I won't lie, we ate them all, but some were indeed superior to others and there are two main factors to that, the quality of the mozzarella and the quality of the tomatoes. It is a very basic salad really and you can jazz it up in various ways with garnishes like pesto and olives, but at its heart it is a showcase for fantastic fresh mozzarella and perfectly sweet, ripe tomatoes. 

First, fresh tomatoes. This salad really is best in the peak of the summer when you have an array of fresh tomatoes of all kinds and colors. In general I'm not a fan of using simple slicing tomatoes for this salad. They don't have as much flavor as some of the more exotic heirloom varietals such as green and red zebra. They are also more watery. I like tomatoes that have a meaty quality, not a mushy one.

Next, fresh mozzarella. It really isn't that difficult to make yourself. You simply need good quality milk, preferably organic and preferably not ultra-pasteurized. You can purchase a kit that has salt, citric acid and rennet in tiny tablets from It's fun and the flavor simply cannot be beat. The only hitch in the giddy up is that you cannot do anything else while making cheese. It is time and temperature sensitive and if you don't pay attention, it won't work. And the whey left behind from the mozzarella process is super healthy for your furrbabies!

Without naming names, I'll share photos of the salads we had. This one was actually one of the more basic ones. Store bought mozzarella, pretty unripe tomatoes and the balsamic was a glaze, not a high quality balsamic vinegar or a reduction. The glazes are made with corn syrup which is totally over powering and makes it have a sickeningly sweet flavor. The olive oil, however, was a wonderful, fruity olive oil which was the best we had. And the delicate basil leaves were lovely.

This one was actually one of the better ones as far as the tomatoes were concerned. They were ripe and there were multiple varieties. The mozzarella again was store bought and I didn't care for all the raw onion on top but considering the rest of the meal we had at that restaurant, this was definitely the highlight. Again, it used a balsamic glaze which I did not like but they made a basil oil instead of fresh basil on top which was quite nice.

This was my least favorite. The greens on top totally masked the tomato and mozzarella. It was a lovely salad, but not a true caprese. The tomatoes were very under ripe and the mozzarella was just ok. No basil, no balsamic. There is such a thing as too much of a garnish. 

This final one was the best. Ripe tomatoes, fresh burratta mozzarella made in house and it was not overly garnished. Again, they used the glaze but it was wasn't over powering because it was used sparsely. The olive oil was fruity and they had a delicious sea salt on top that accented the creamy mozzarella beautifully. 

This final photo is of a caprese I made last summer using fresh tomatoes from the farm and fresh basil from our garden. It was delicious, beautiful and took advantage of the delicate fresh mozzarella I made.  And you will notice the balsamic on top was not a syrupy glaze, but rather a delicate drizzle of a reduction I made. Just the way I like it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Internal Culinary Conflict

I have a confession to make. I am internally conflicted. Not a conflict of character or some moral dilemma, although there are aspects of that to my confliction. My conflict resides in an obsessive fascination with molecular gastronomy while simultaneously disdaining it. I read articles and watch videos about Grant Achatz and Ferran Adria in excess and I am always seeking to try restaurants that are pushing the envelope and offering unique taster menus that I can try. Yet, there is a fundamental issue I have with most of the basic tenets of this kind of culinary artistry, particularly as it pertains to what I do and how I have defined myself as a chef.

Much of my interest and education in cooking has revolved around being true to culture. Finding spices, ingredients and techniques that somehow represent a group of people and bringing them to my little corner of the world. Food as education. Food as cultural exchange. Generally this food tends to be more rustic, simplistic, yet elegant and always focused upon the ingredients being utilized. I have sought out farmers whom I have built a relationship with to provide me with the fresh ingredients that are the basis of my cuisine. Meat, eggs, vegetables, spices, all the necessary components of my culinary artists palate so to speak.

I also have cultivated a theory of food that is very much centered on taking chemicals and processing out of the equation. Eliminating unecessary ingredients that may pose a health risk or simply adulterate the natural quality of the food I am creating. I go out of my way to spend quite a bit of money on these ingredients, using organically grown, sustainable products where I can.

Yet, the use of various chemicals in the culinary laboratory that has been the foundation of molecular gastronomy intrigues me. The ability to morph a food into something it is not, yet maintaining the essence of flavor of that ingredient so as to create a transformative experience for a diner is something beyond cooking. It is part mad scientist, part modern artist. The dancer in me, the artist in me, craves that kind of freedom. The academic in me pulls me in the other direction, telling me to maintain the dignity of the ingredients, the history, the culture.

Where then do I fit in as part artist, part academic?? I did not come to cooking from a traditional background. I came to it from a history of both artist and student. First a dancer, then an anthropologist interested in culinary anthropology. Food for me represented the transition between the two and an opportunity to fuse both my loves. As I have evolved I think much of my cooking has gone beyond the cerebral and is now returning to the more intuitive but there remains an evolution between the two that still eludes me.

Perhaps that is what constantly pushes me to create new recipes and do new things. This constant conflict I feel. As others inspire me, as new ingredients come my way, I am attempting to make sense of my conflict and trying to formulate a new normal for myself. I guess with that being said than I have come to what my true New Year's Resolution is, albeit an month late. Find the resolution to the conflict. Create the amalgamation between the cerebral and the intuitive, between academic and artist. Stop beating yourself up for wanting to try new techniques that may involve adding chemicals to your food. Don't allow yourself to be pigeon holed by some unattainable and unsustainable ideology.

I am a chef. I am an anthropologist. I can be both and that doesn't mean compromising my ideals or my "culinary morals." I guess it is like discovering a new faith. Somewhere underneath it all exists a kind of culinary spirituality but my culinary truth cannot follow a specific dogma or church of worship. I have to find the faith within my own self and manifest it within my own personal expression.