“I always say this to the young chefs and mean it: The customer is excited, he says you are an artist, but we are not, just craftspeople with a little talent. If the chef is an artist, he doesn’t succeed. Why? Because he is inspired today but not tomorrow. We cannot do that.” —Andre Soltner (quoted in Forbes, May 2012) Back in in the fall of 2008, nearly five years ago, I moderated a discussion between Tony Bourdain and Marco Pierre White (insofar as those two former chefs can be moderated at all). MPW railed against the multi-course tasting menu, and Bourdain reiterated it, while Grant Achatz, feeling personally attacked, fumed in the audience. As I pointed out in a post addressing the event, The End of the Multi-Course Tasting? (scroll down past Tony’s curious remarks), Read On »

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Time to reflect on the year that has passed, a good one with much productivity here in the Ruhlman household! As our hobbled economy slouches toward recovery (and a fractious House of Reps hides behind a corner, stick in hand, waiting to trip it up), we remain staunchly optimistic! And I would like to publicly thank my amazing wife, without whom none of this could happen. Thank you, Donna! Herewith, a bit of personal horn tooting, highlights of this year’s work, followed by the Top Ten most popular posts of 2012. Best wishes to all for a healthy and fruitful New Year filled with great food and great cooking! Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto won both the James Beard Foundation Award and the IACP award for general cooking. Brian Polcyn and I published Salumi: The Craft of Read On »

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Last election, I put up a big “Vote Obama” post in light of what I considered to be eight disastrous years of Bush, unnecessary war, and an economy that was going to take well more than four years to fix. I was at first surprised by some of the angry comments I got. A reader named Art wrote, “You’re a consommate [sic] chef. Leave it at that. Keep your friggin’ political opinions to yourself,” followed two minutes later by Joe: “Because you can cook, you can tell me for whom I’m to cast my vote? I don’t think so. Keep it in the kitchen—not the voting booth.” My response was more or less, “This site is my fucking yard and I can put up whatever sign I want.” And this led to more comments, pro Read On »

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The word is passion and I used to hear it from chefs. “I can teach you to cook, but I can’t teach passion,” they would say. I took this at face value from so many chefs I can’t tell you, until I didn’t anymore because I realized it meant exactly nothing. Thomas Keller, the chef from whom I have learned the most, and the most by far, noted this a while back as well. Passion is the wrong word, he said. Desire was what he wanted to see in a young cook. What, really, though, is that elusive quality that makes a great chef, a great musician, a great anything? It’s not passion, and I’m not sure it’s desire either. A lot of people have passion for something they aren’t good at. In my twenties Read On »

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  Last week’s reports calling into question the benefits of fish oil pills pissed me off because they remind me yet again how utterly credulous (i.e., stupid) the general public seems to be about what is good for them and what is bad for them. I suppose it’s not their fault given all the confusing messages media spreads through our culture. Just last night ABC Nightly News reported a new staggering health threat for our children. Watch the story here—click “New Major Health Issue.” Diane Sawyer intones ominously, “The threat… iiis … salt.” Reporter Sharon Alfonsi then goes on to cite the damning evidence: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Ragu Tomato Sauce, and Captain Crunch. NOT ONCE DO THEY SAY THE THREAT IS PROCESSED FOOD! NOT ONCE DO THEY SAY PARENTS ARE ADDING TOO MUCH KOSHER SALT TO Read On »

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