Dishes every new chef should aspire to learn.
I was chatting with a young lad the other day. He had expressed an interest in cooking and becoming a chef. As the conversation went on, it came to light that one of the things that put him off was having to learn about "Liquid nitrogen" and "Water baths" etc. My jaw dropped!
I was confronted with a similar experience when I was teaching at the college. A student was quizzing me about molecular gastronomy. I was able to give a limited responcse, but this was a student who was struggling with peeling a potato. In both incidences the same thought was evident, "You don't need to know about that!"
I pride myself on being able to cook the simple things well. I will never win a Michelin Star or Masterchef, but I will fill your belly and entertain your mouth. This is my philosophy when it comes to cooking. My concern is that this is becoming a lost ideal in kitchens, cookery and training.
It is nice that the likes of Heston Blumenthal can inspire people to be chefs, but this can lead to disillusionment once in the catering industry. It's not all foams, candy houses and glamorous desserts. A chef should be able to do the simple things.
Going back to my earlier point about the young lad. I explained to him that I was once told about a list of 10 dishes every chef should know. I remember it as:
1: Chicken Stock
2: Basic white Sauce
3: Roast a chicken
4: Poach/Grill/bake Fish
6: Leek and Potato Soup
8: Shortcrust Pastry
9: Creme Anglaise
You get the gist?....
Getting these skills down should be a priority to any trainee/wannabe chef. Coupled with confidence at cooking and preparing vegetables. Leave the water baths and fancy stuff for a while. I'm not saying never. Just don't run before you can walk.