Tag Archives: Learn it

11 Pretentious Food Terms


One of the biggest complaints people have with the food industry is the pretentious attitude.  The food world is full of people and establishments who reek of self-importance. We’ve developed a culinary lexicon that has become so convoluted, The gastro-glossary of words around the word is long and often confusing with many kitchen terms that chefs fully understand confusing their customers when they hit the menus in the dining room.


1.Hand-anything – hand-chopped, hand-pulled, hand-cut, hand-glazed…

Wow. What an ingenious method. So ingenious in fact that every grandma since the dawn of civilisation has been using this innovative method to prepare food.

2. Artisanal

So over-used, it’s losing its meaning. I mean, if every bakery down the road calls itself “Artisanal”, which really sounds more like “I’m just starting out, don’t have the funds or the time to do more than this”, then where is the line drawn between a true artisan and a wannabe?

3. Bespoke

Custom-crafted cocktails, madam? Yeah, and that $30 price tag that comes along with it. It’s all right. I’ll stick to that glass of boring wine.

4. Deconstructed

Oh, the things you learn from Master Chef. Here I was thinking that “Deconstructed” dishes meant the creator thought of a concept BEFORE he started plating the dish. But in reality, it seems like deconstructed is just a convenient term for when things start going awry in the cooking or plating process!

5. Foraged

Ok, yes so maybe those darn Chanterelle Mushrooms were really foraged from some forest in Scandinavia but, I’m not quite sure how to react when I see foraged items in urban city centres. Maybe I shouldn’t diss that poor weed growing out of the asphalt streets, after all.

Oh, how “lucky” am I that there are at least 5 artisanal bakeries in my neighbourhood – so I can learn essential skills in life, like being able to tell the difference between a fougasse and a flatkaka

Yes, and please charge me $30 for that alcohol-infused bespoke strawberry smoothie

What lovely mushrooms growing in the grass patch next to my car park. I wonder if I should forage for them?

6. Curated

We get it. You studied the fine arts of vegetables and have personally “Curated” what should appear on my plate. Heaven forbid, that damn carrot ruining the verdant look of lush forest greens.

7. Chef’s Menu or Omakase

This isn’t so much about the words Chef’s Menu or Omakase. It’s the way the staff hold on to the information about what’s on the menu with secrecy befitting the CIA.

Yes, it is a damn secret, I know. But really, I am already sitting at your restaurant, willing to splash out the moolah, so what’s up with not telling me even as I order the Chef’s Menu about what I am getting? Yes, they ask you about allergies and there’s always religious considerations. But what if you don’t have any of those restrictions but you just don’t really, really like a particular food? Like you may love some bacon bits in your appetiser but you absolutely cannot handle a full-on pork belly for a main. Do you just blanket tell them you don’t eat pork and miss out on trying other dishes of theirs?

8. No-description menus

You know, the ones that read like this – Beef|Pearls|Citrus and you’re like what?? What am I ordering, guys?

9. Giving me a geography lesson I do not need

Like telling me that the line-caught fish is from Moldova or something. Wait, do they even fish in Moldova? 

10. Giving me a French lesson that, again, I do not need

Yes, it’s a beautiful language where even saying “you’re a bloody ass of a cook” sounds so fancy, but it’s OK. You can still call a mashed potato a mashed potato and if it’s the silkiest, creamiest mash I have ever eaten, I will not care that it wasn’t a pomme puree.

11. Mouthfeel

Only usually ever uttered by the most pretentious wannabes, it’s meant to tell the rest of us plebeians that really, you are using ALL your senses when you dine. Clever girl.

Would this be more interesting if I said it was a locally-harvested Tiger Prawns, accompanied by hand-tossed gluten-free pasta in a prawn head organic chilli oil?

Curated puffs of delight, swimming in hand-pulled milk from a free range, organic bovine farm from the Scottish Highlands

“Oh, the mouthfeel of a Dragon Fruit”, she exclaimed, sighing with pleasure. Oh, did you mean you like the way the seeds pop in your mouth, say like, fizzy pop candy?


SMOKE POINTS of Cooking Oil: A general summary about seasoning

How does this work? As oil bakes past the smoke points, it leaves a black patina finish, (carbon).  This carbon is polymerize as the oil is seared onto the cookware through the process of heating at a high temperature.  Once the oil has burned away, it will leave this finish known as seasoning.  Many manufactures preseason cookware but in time, re seasoning may be required. Once the oil has been heated, it is cooked into the surface of the item and when cooled, the first level of patina finish remains and once cooled will have a smooth touch.  Over time, through use, more oils are added while cooking and when kept properly, only gets better through time.  

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Over time, through use, more oils are added while cooking and when kept properly, only gets better through time.  

What oils work best?  Cooking oils whether vegetable or animal fat both work.  I have used different oils over time seasoning many different types of cast iron cookware with great results, but only oils at or above 350 degrees (f) seem to work best.  I like bacon grease, although vegetable oils work fine and as I often cook using olive oil,  it too, works great.   What you use, truly is up to what you like and use in your home. What perhaps is more important in selecting what oil you use, is deciding which not to choose.  Since most cooking is around 350 degrees (f), do not select a Low smoke points oil.  many will argue bacon grease over vegetable oil, or coconut oil over cottonseed, but truth is, they all work as they are all higher smoke points.   While Avocado and Coconut (refine) have the highest smoke points, any oil with 350 degrees (f) will provide a sufficient finish. If the item comes out sticky, just reheat and cool again as most often, a sticky finish is because you either did not reach smoke point or did not heat long enough.

Smoke Point Chart

Fat Smoke Point °F Smoke Point °C
Unrefined canola oil 225°F 107°C
Unrefined flax seed oil 225°F 107°C
Unrefined safflower oil 225°F 107°C
Unrefined sunflower oil 225°F 107°C
Unrefined corn oil 320°F 160°C
Unrefined high-oleic sunflower oil 320°F 160°C
Extra virgin olive oil 320°F 160°C
Unrefined peanut oil 320°F 160°C
Semi refined safflower oil 320°F 160°C
Unrefined soy oil 320°F 160°C
Unrefined walnut oil 320°F 160°C
Hemp seed oil 330°F 165°C
Butter 350°F 177°C
Semi refined canola oil 350°F 177°C
Coconut oil 350°F 177°C
Unrefined sesame oil 350°F 177°C
Semi refined soy oil 350°F 177°C
Vegetable shortening 360°F 182°C
Lard 370°F 182°C
Macadamia nut oil 390°F 199°C
Refined canola oil 400°F 204°C
Semi refined walnut oil 400°F 204°C
High quality (low acidity) extra virgin olive oil 405°F 207°C
Sesame oil 410°F 210°C
Cottonseed oil 420°F 216°C
Grape seed oil 420°F 216°C
Virgin olive oil 420°F 216°C
Almond oil 420°F 216°C
Hazelnut oil 430°F 221°C
Peanut oil 440°F 227°C
Sunflower oil 440°F 227°C
Refined corn oil 450°F 232°C
Palm oil 450°F 232°C
Palm kernel oil 450°F 232°C
Refined high-oleic sunflower oil 450°F 232°C
Refined peanut oil 450°F 232°C
Refined Safflower oil 450°F 232°C
Semi refined sesame oil 450°F 232°C
Refined soy oil 450°F 232°C
Semi refined Sunflower Oil 450°F 232°C
Olive pomace Oil 460°F 238°C
Extra light olive Oil 468°F 242°C
Soybean oil 495°F 257°C
Safflower oil 510°F 266°C
Avocado oil 520°F 271°C

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A Quick Science Lesson

Chalkboard

Let’s stop and think about what food is for a moment.  Food is organic material, coming from either Plants, Animals, or Fungus.  Meat comes from a slaughtered animal that has been dissected piece by piece and ground up into hamburger meat or dipped in batter to later be fried. Vegetables grow right up out of manure from the ground. Mushrooms are, in fact, a fungus.

Food is inherently unsanitary. Food comes from once-living things that have been harvested, taken apart and repackaged in hopes of arriving at their final destination before decomposition sets in.

In short, food is kind of gross when you think about it, and it can get even grosser if you don’t know how to properly prepare, store and cook it.

Of course, the point we’re trying to make here isn’t just that food starts out icky, but rather, that health concerns should be of the highest priority when working in the food industry.

The fact is that food is not merely prone to come in contact with germs and parasites and the like, but that food is inherently tainted. Food inherently carries bacteria and other pathogens. Keeping food safe for your customers or dinner guests is not a matter of preventing the food from coming into contact with germs, but of keeping those germs to a minimum, killing bacteria through freezing and cooking processes, and in keeping the food as safe and healthy as possible.

The bottom line is that, every time you eat anything, you are ingesting potentially harmful bacteria and all sorts of other nasties, but, fortunately, the human immune system is quite capable of dealing with E. coli or salmonella… in small doses, at least.

With this in mind, we give you…

A Brief Lesson in Pathogens

We’ll begin with a brief definition of a pathogen-

A pathogen, or a germ, is identified as being a biological agent capable of causing disease or illness to its host.

The body itself is capable of defending against common pathogens by way of the human immune system, as well as through helpful bacteria which occur in the human body’s normal flora However, should this defence system, either the human immune system or helpful bacteria be damaged in any way, such as through chemotherapy, HIV, or antibiotics (often taken to kill existing pathogens), then pathogenic bacteria or viruses can easily infect, proliferate and, in some cases, become terminal.

The fact is that every pathogen is capable of killing its host. Without a defence system in place, there is nothing to keep bacteria from simply eating and eating away at the host without cease.

A number of pathogens, such as Yersinia pestis, believed to have been the cause of the Black Plague, and the Malaria protozoa, have been responsible for casualties on a massive scale.

Types of Pathogen

Pathogens can be either viral, bacterial, fungal or pr ionic.

Viral pathogens generally fall into the families of:

· Adenovirida

· Herpesviridae

· Hepadnaviridae

· Flaviviridae

· Picomaviridae

· Retroviridae

· Orthomyxoviridae

· Paramyxoviridae

· Papovaviridae

· Rhabdoviridae or

· Togaviridae.

Notable viral pathogens include smallpox, influenza, measles, chickenpox, Ebola, the mumps and rubella.

Interestingly, the vast majority of bacterial pathogens are either harmless or, in fact, beneficial, but there are those that can lead to infectious disease. The most common bacterial disease is T.B., or tuberculosis, which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacteria which affects about two million people, with the majority being in sub-Saharan Africa.

The most common strains of food borne bacterial pathogen include shigella, campylobacter and salmonella. Pathogenic bacteria can cause infections including tetanus, typhoid fever, diphtheria, syphilis and even leprosy (though this is hardly common in the 21st Century). Bacterial infections are generally dealt with by way of antibiotics.

Fungal pathogens are capable of causing disease in humans, animals and even plants. This type of pathogen typically infects immuno-compromised people or vulnerable individuals with weakened immune systems. The majority of antibiotics cannot be used to treat fungal infections as fungi and their hosts both have eukaryotic cells.

A prion is a pathogen that does not contain nucleic acids. Associated conditions include Mad Cow Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Transmission

Pathogens can be transmitted in several ways. Here we’ll deal with airborne, blood borne and food borne pathogens.

Blood borne pathogens are not necessarily transmitted strictly through contact with blood, but can also be transmitted through other bodily fluids such as saliva, mucus and tears.

Airborne pathogens are those which are transmitted through the air. This can include those transmitted through sneezing, coughing, or simply those drifting in the air.

Not to alarm you, but the air you breath is literally packed with all sorts of bacteria and other substances, including, but not limited to, dead skin flakes and microscopic bits of faecal matter. There is simply no getting away from airborne pathogens. While more extreme measures of controlling airborne pathogens may be put in place in places such as hospitals and treatment centres, the primary method for dealing with airborne pathogens is simply in ensuring that they do not cause infection.

The truth is that food will come into contact with pathogens, and so, proper cooking and clean hands are a requisite in keeping these pathogens from spreading and causing infection or disease.

Food borne pathogens are those which are, of course, transmitted through food.

Understanding Salmonella

The chief offender with regards to salmonella would be, of course, poultry. Typically, poultry contracts salmonella due to unhygienic thawing methods. It is of course common to use ice water to thaw chicken, but using, say, warm water, instead, can easily attract bacteria and cause it to multiply. This is because the melt water contains condensation from the chicken, which proves to be a literal Petri dish for the minuscule amount of the bacteria already in the water.

This same principle applies to all other foods, as well. Unclean food, food not prepared to the proper temperatures, food left out for too long are all breeding grounds for the minuscule amounts of salmonella in the water and air to thrive and multiply.

E. Coli

E. Coli, or Escherichia Coli, is a gram negative bacterium most commonly found in the lower intestine of warm blooded animals. The majority of E. Coli strains are, perhaps surprisingly, harmless. Several other strains, however, can be responsible for serious food poisoning in humans.

The harmless strains of E. Coli are actually a part of the normal flora of the human gut and can actually benefit the host by producing vitamin K, as well as preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine.

E. Coli can typically only survive outside of the body for brief periods of time, however, food that has not been prepared properly makes for a fertile breeding ground for the bacteria, and should infection occur, serious and life threatening complications can possibly take place.

The Severity of the Situation

As mentioned above, pathogens are everywhere. They’re in every meal you eat, they thrive on your hands and they’re in the air you’re breathing right now. It’s simply a fact of life that germs are everywhere, even on Mars (if those fossils recovered in the mid-nineties are to be believed).

The importance of serving safe and hygienic food, then, is quite a priority. We can never ensure that the food that we serve is one hundred percent free of pathogens, but we can, fortunately, make sure that those pathogens are kept to safe enough levels that the average individuals immune system will be able to efficiently deal with any germs that come in contact with the body.

Here we will emphasise the number one point…

Wash your Hands

c4577-2a3602_de0b6f24c2e448fcb3a6160c6ee76830mv2We’ll warn you here and now that you should expect us to “get on our high horse” about this one a few more times before this text is finished. The fact is that keeping your hands clean is the absolute number one best method for preventing the spread of pathogens in a kitchen environment.  Keep your hands clean, apply latex gloves any time you need to come in direct contact with food, and your battle with food borne pathogens is already half-won.

Link’s

  1. Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education 

  2. Food Safety Network 

  3. Foodservice and Hospitality Magazine 

  4. Health Canada 


What is Mise en place?

The easy answer is, “everything in its place.” It’s a French phrase meaning that everything is organized and ready…But it is sooo much more!

In the professional kitchen mise en place is more of a philosophy or a way of life rather than just a simple phrase. Mise en place is everything needed to make the shift as smooth as possible. We learn it, we teach it, we get it tattooed on our bodies! As Chef Randy Burns has said, “Mise en place is a state of Mind.” It becomes an integral part of how we think. Whether we are working to implement a new recipe, planning an off-site catered event, or going camping with the family, the philosophy of mise en place infuses our souls with the need to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Everything in its place. A plan for everything.

Proper mise en place means that you are the master of your domain. You know how many covers you should do tonight, you know if it’s a holiday, or if there’s some other special event going on which may impact your covers. If a prep cook does some of your mise then you have verified the quantities and seen where the backups are stored. Trust no one, you verify it yourself.

Mise en Place is defined as:

  • The Ethos of the kitchen

  • So much more than minced shallots

  • Hope for the best, plan for the worst

  • Seconds save minutes

  • The foundation of success

  • The foundation of a successful shift

  • It makes or breaks you

  • A way of life

  • Learn it, know it, live it

  • Prep, Attitude, Focus, Drive

  • Slapping Murphy’s Law into place

  • Telling that bitch Murphy’s Law to sit the fuck down

  • Organisation of product, tools, and mind

  • Seeing and preventing a problem before it arrives


“Mise en Place”; what an exquisite phrase, it slides right off the tongue, effortlessly, like a lightly seared fresh sea scallop drizzled with a rich lemon Beurre Blanc, garnished with a chiffonade of fresh “fine herbs” and shaved truffles…  Seriously, mise en place is the principle, the base, the philosophy that rules every cook’s life; it is a term not just applied to your prepared ingredients, your fridge with prepped meats, your base sauces, stocks, garnishes, etc. ready to assemble; it is your organization, your knowledge, your ability to work with others, (kitchen work is definitely a team activity), your mental ability and preparedness. It is a philosophy; a state of mind! There are so many meanings, connotations and levels of “mise en place” that you’re constantly fine tuning your perception and definition of it. A Cook’s life revolves around “mise en place” and it’s what “makes you, or breaks you”. You’re only as good as your mise en place. It encompasses your prep, cooking, serving, menu design and execution; your ordering, scheduling, managing of the kitchen. The concept of “mise en place” can be applied to virtually any circumstance or scenario. It has taken me years to begin understanding this application to ALL facets of the kitchen, of business, of life; it’s not just my tray with chopped shallots, garlic, various herbs, garnishes, etc. all ready to go into the frying pan ‘ala minute”, it’s applicable to any strategy or action, ; and I’m still learning this every day.

For such a small, eloquent phrase it carries a lot of power, weight and meaning.

Cleanliness/Hygiene and organisation is an integral part of “mise”, they go hand in hand, the sooner you recognise and embrace this fact the further ahead “of the game” you will be.


The Unspoken Laws Of The Kitchen (The Code)