Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: 100% Hand-Made


Following up on ML’s Table for 12 post, I’ve been thinking about cheating. Do you feel better (more authentic, more accomplished, etc.) when you cook a dish using absolutely no pre-processed ingredients? Health concerns aside, do you feel better knowing that everything that appears in your dish started out at the most elemental level possible?  Or are there certain prepared items that are just fine to include, like mayonnaise and canned chicken stock? I just ask because I made Caesar salad (not pictured above) from scratch the other night, and I was a little extra jazzed about the fact that everything — down to the breadcrumbs — was home-made.

So, is it OK to compromise on the  “authenticity” of a dish by taking one or two Sandra Lee-esque shortcuts, or does making a dish in a completely elemental way truly add a meaningful touch?

I apologize for making you think on a Wednesday.  Here’s some smörg to cleanse the palate.

– A look at Bobby Flay‘s newest cookbook, which just so happens to be part of the prize pack for our grilling contest.  Be sure to enter by midnight tonight!

– Two former Hell’s Kitchen contestants, including Robert Hesse, are joining the kitchen at a restaurant in the Hamptons.  The post gently refers to Robert as “memorable.”  You’ll likely remember him as the giant dude who collapsed at the Borgata.  Yeah, that’s memorable, alright.

After the jump…Ray-Ray keeps collecting the hardware, a culinary-journalism crisis of epic proportions and Tony Bourdain takes aim at your favorite grocery store.

Rachael Ray will be the honoree at this year’s American Women in Radio & Television award event. In case you’re counting, this is step seven out of 10 in her never-ending push for global domination.

– New York Times food critic Frank Bruni is leaving his post and that means that food as we know it will never be the same.  OK, maybe not, but we will get a juicy book out of the deal.

Bourdain on Whole Foods: “Starbucks of organic food”  I dont’ think that’s a compliment.

(Photo: devlyn)

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  • Yvo May 20, 2009  

    I definitely feel good about making things from complete scratch – Caesar salad being one of those things (although I use mayo in the dressing as opposed to raw eggs/oil, just to make it that minute or two faster). And yes, I feel better knowing that there are no preservatives in things I make or less preservatives… totally worth it.

  • Peter Justason May 20, 2009  

    Loved to make Caesar Salad from scratch whenever I can. And your right it feels like cheating a bit even if I don’t make the croutons myself. Here is my post about my C. salad making.

  • Summer May 21, 2009  

    I definitely get a feeling of accomplishment when I feed my family a meal that I’ve made from scratch, and over the years I’ve drastically cut down the number of prepared and semi-prepared foods I purchase. I don’t buy spaghetti sauce or salad dressing any more… but I do consider myself to be “making my own salad dressing” when I whip together some mayo, lemon juice, crushed garlic and anchovy paste. So what if the mayonnaise is Duke’s (“The Secret of Great Southern Cooks,” according to the jar) and the lemon juice is from a bottle? I’m still way more in charge of the flavor of the dressing than if I’d just made the choice between Newman’s Own or Ken’s Steak House.

    Flavor is important to me, but there are other important reasons impelling me to cook from scratch: nutrition, keeping out the nasties (like HFCS and, in my case, dairy ingredients), and frugality. Why pay for a can of chicken broth when I can make something better from scraps and bones? I love making something good from something that other people might throw away. I’m sure you crouton-toasters understand!

  • BS May 21, 2009  

    good call by Bourdain re: Whole Foods. It’s just like starbucks because you can never go there but still get effed by it. Just like starbucks made it OK for coffee to be $4, WF made it ok for arugula to be $8 a pound.

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