OK, so even if we aren’t professional chefs, we’d still like to cook like one. Maybe we’ll never put a unique technique to use or ever need that impossibly rare ingredient. But at least it’s still fun to get a peek inside the mind of a chef.
And that’s exactly what Saveur magazine‘s “Top 100″ featured in its January/February 2011 issue does. Typically, the bon vivant publication shares with readers its yearly picks for best restaurants, recipes, trends, drinks, gadgets and more.
But in its 13th annual installment, Saveur celebrated those who help inspire the magazine’s coverage with their tips and ideas. It’s easy to think of a chef as a rare breed, says Saveur, with his or her energy and creativity focused in ways most of us can’t imagine.
Ultimately, the magazine concludes that chefs are a lot like us–with their love of cooking and eating. But of course they have the time to dedicate to it that most of us don’t. Sigh.
So is it possible, then, that No. 19 with its common indulgence made the list in order to help us relate to these full-time foodies? Craig Koketsu of New York City’s Park Avenue Winter serves up a side of Broccoli With Cheetos. And, no, it’s not just a substitute for cheese in the recipe (that is included).
Not every entry in Saveur’s list is so, ahem, unusual, but it makes for an interesting (once again) read. Keeping in mind there are so many, many more, some of the highlights include:
- Tater Tots. But not just the frozen kind. French chef Michel Richard of D.C.’s Citronelle combines veggies and cheese into diced potatoes, forms them into balls and fries them. Bonus: One of his recipes (there are 37 total the chefs share) is included. Yum.
- In Bocca. This series of quirky Italian cookbooks came on the scene in the 1970s, and San Francisco’s A16 chef Liza Shaw has about 12 of the 20 versions that exist. Part food preparation, part folklore, these rare texts even advise what to do when you dream about certain foods. Visions of nougat? See the dentist and play No. 2 in the lottery.
- The Isle of Skye. The harsh Inner Hebrides of northeastern Scotland is not somewhere you might imagine restaurants springing up. But they do, and they survive by serving dishes made up of what the environment provides them–wild garlic, elderberries, rose hips, mussels, razor clams and seaweed.
- Carnival Food. Well, Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon chef Martin Picard is putting a spin on it anyway. Cotton candy made with cranberry juice and maple sugar. A raspberry margarita made with a slush machine. Snow cones made with the real stuff, topped with lemon juice and zest, and, oh yeah, a shot of vodka.
- Pencil and Paper. One of the more insightful pieces was the collection of sketches drawn up by numerous chefs before mixing ingredients in the kitchen. Whether desserts, appetizers or entrées, the drawings give interesting insight into the creative mind behind plating a dish.