Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Everybody a critic

Something gnawing away at my soul is the amount of Master Chef Food critics we've got lately. Any Chef will tell you about this new found passion Jo Public discovered regarding the cooking and presenting of dishes. There is just absolutely nothing you can show, cook or present them with, or they can tell you where you went wrong. Friends and fellow Chef's all have some ridiculous story they can share and I'm no different. 
A few weeks ago, a mother and daughter combination walked into the restaurant for a lovely lunch. Mum, about 80 and an old and dear customer ordered her normal fish of the day and her 50 - 60 year old daughter and "MF critique extraordinaire" decided to test my culinary skills and ordered a medium-rare ribeye steak.
O woe is me, can I do it? Am I ready for this big task? I've only cooked a few thousand of them in 30+ years of cooking and now this. As many (all) Chef's cook steak by "feel", this was done and when it reached the perfect "feel", it was plated and presented to the dear-heart. The chips was eaten with gusto and then came the dreaded moment of judging. 
Will my skill show or will Mrs. MF Critic return my dish?
Then it happened, the wonder women critic decided the steak was rare and not medium-rare as ordered. It was returned with instructions that I must make sure that next time I cook it until it is pink in the middle and not at all red as this one was.  
I checked and in my apparently non-expert opinion, it was perfect medium-rare. I instructed the waitress to returned the steak, together with my young assistants handbook (he just finished a culinary diploma) showing a photo of a medium-rare steak. How I and the writer of that handbook could have gotten it so wrong, I will never know. When the poor waitress placed the dish, accompanied by the handbook, in front of her, she shouted: "Where is Ramsey when you need him?"
I must confess, I wouldn't have complained if he was there, as he would have told her what she could go do to herself in no uncertain terms.
In my humble opinion, we have cooking programs and competitions to blame for this. Don’t get me wrong though, Master Chef is like a sports event to me. Break out the beer and chips and let the ref (judge) bashing start. But honestly, it also turned the most humble Jo Public into a red eyed, mouth foaming critic that has no scruples when it comes to telling you how to cook any dish you invented. Constructive criticism is what builds good Chefs, but this is something else. This type of criticism has got nothing constructive in it, it is meant to show the people around this MF Critic how ignorant he/she really is.
If somehow I, yes we are all human, forgot to add the wine to your white wine sauce, you are welcome, no encouraged, to inform me thus and I will apologise and fix it. But don’t instruct me to next time use a 2013 Riesling instead of a 2012, because the 2013 is much fuller in body than the 2012 and miss the point that I forgot to add any wine to your sauce altogether.
Note to food critic: After all the reduction a wine goes through to become your wine sauce, I will personally lick your royal back-side if you could tell the difference between a reduced 2013 and a good quality dry box wine.

There, I’ve said it and now I feel a lot better. Let’s go cook!

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