Monday, October 4, 2010

Compliments to the Chef

This has been a "problem" that has been bothering me for some time now.

If two people cook a dish together, who gets the compliments?
a. The person who thought up the overall idea for the dish? (i.e. the person who finds the recipe)
b. The person who measures and follows the directions?

Many times, I have cooked meals with others and usually I am the one who just measures and mixes. Then puts in the oven, and sticks a fork in the end dish, and takes it out. But I don't feel that I really did anything. Maybe all the work I put into mixing will effect the texture of a dish, but its overall taste? I doubt it.

Therefore, I think the person who thinks up the dish should get the credit. And whoever mixes and measures is just a sous chef.

Though that's just my opinion. I'm sure there are many who disagree...


mike rosenberg said...

i totally disagree!! :D

Brian said...

Believe me, I could follow a recipe and yes, it would be edible but my wife could follow the same recipe and actually do it justice.

Tim said...

This is a major question for some philosophers. Usually the arts discussed are more formal than the culinary, but that raises the same questions. E.g. music: composer, arranger, musician, conductor, re-mixer, listener. Who is the responsible "artist"? Who gets to determine what is an authentic performance? Does a good performer stick to the script or add something? Who ultimately is the arbiter of its meaning? yada yada yada... What it means for something to be a forgery depends on the answers to these questions. Did you make the sandwich as the author of the recipe intended, or did you make the Hillel sandwich?

Alex (from Cardozo) said...

The answer to your question depends largely on how you conceive of compliments; is it necessary that the praise for a dish be placed solely with one individual? If you think about it, multiple people can conceive of elements of a single dish, as much as multiple people can prepare those disparate elements.

I'd suggest that complimentary flow should begin from information possessed by the complimenter, and end in information recieved by the complimentee(s). If I'm in a restaurant, and I ask the waiter to send my compliments for the steak I had, I may have no idea where my food came from, so I send them to "the chef". What should be recieved from this, though, is an appreciation of both the concept of the dish, and its unique execution; I laud the efforts of the grill station chef and the saucier, as well as the chef de cuisine who conceptualizes the menu each night.

I may also be thanking the waiter for his service in ensuring the steak got to me at the right point in the meal, when I'd just received a new glass of wine, had a little time to digest my appetizer, and the steak had cooled slightly to the most delectable temperature.

I may even be extending my appreciation to the rancher who sourced good cows, raised them well, and ensured their slaughter was hygenic (and perhaps kosher).

So, is there any answer in my blather? I'd suggest that compliments should either be seen as focused on a distinct res, and to all those who contributed to the complimenter's experience of it. Alternately, a compliment could be focused on one specific aspect of that process, if it were the specific aspect that one noted as special in some way.