Monday, October 19, 2009

A Constant Striving to Better Our Food

Living in Placer County and working in this great local community, I see the deep connection people have to their roots. I too have those roots, to my Family, our customs and traditions and more. My Family in this region have been cattle ranchers since before World War II when they were forced to leave their property by the hands of the US Government. Our Family used to inhabit the current "Beale Air Force Base" property. When relocated they chose Lincoln and bought almost 1,000 acres in Placer County to ranch on.

As cattle ranchers, they were constantly striving to better their land, their soil and the condition of the environment to that best suited to the health and success of great cattle. After all, it was their life source, their income and their pride.

Today not much has changed. Being that I spend a lot of time in the Farmers markets and visit with Farmers and ranchers, I find it very interesting. A great farmer has the sense to know that it requires great skill and hard work to farm successfully. But even more, they know that by being educated and studying the science of their soil, of their strains of crops, that they can produce amazing results.

Modern Chefs are often scrutinized for playing with food additives, creating plates that are deemed "unrecognizable", and breaking the mold of "simple food". Great ingredients should be treated simply to produce amazing results is the theory many people hold. I can agree, but also feel like the Farmer who knows that there is a place for science to produce amazing results in food.

Just like the Farmer who studies his soil and crops in depth, I too study my practice of cooking in great depth. I have found a great balance between the "old" and the "new". It has brought me great reward to create food with precise results and know that is indeed the case.

A few small examples of this theory that the study of the craft of cooking and the introduction of science can produce better results are as follows:

I recently built a wood fired pizza oven. One may find a pizza dough recipe that is good and find it satisfying to make. But to be able to study the science of the dough, the chemical reactions, the mixing and resting process, the precise hydration rates, the amount of yeast, the total rising time; any one of these variable changed in the slightest will produce a different quality in the dough, from texture to taste and more. With the use of basic science, but moreover tedious study and repetitious practice I was able to produce a dough that I find fantastic and am proud to serve. Proud enough to not share the recipe! Ha!

More so, the combination of this study along with the old way of "feeling" the dough is extremely important. It takes more than just study to know how to achieve results, it takes the feel as well.

Another; The addition of a thermal circulator to my tool collection has provided me with the ability to cook meat amazingly well. Again, much study being required, I now know that each type of meat, each cut of meat, each strain of meat requires a very different approach when cooked depending on the result you are desiring.

The addition of a Paco Jet provides extraordinary results when making ice creams and sorbets, something that could not be rivaled by traditional methods.

The addition of these "tools" enables me to provide my clients food that is truly amazing, texturally and taste wise. The introduction of science in the modern kitchen is almost required to push ourselves toward perfection, whatever we each define that as. In economic times like these, we cannot afford one bad meal, and as the saying goes that we live by, we are only as good as our last meal. The use of science helps me to produce food that I deem worthy of praise and practice, and more importantly keeps my clients happy and coming back!

I guess what I am saying is this; in this evolving world we live in, where more tools and information is available than ever before, it is in good practice for all working people, be it any trade, to make use of their surroundings. This is evolution and survival of the "adaptable" in a sense. We can all make great use of the world that surrounds us if we open our eyes to what is there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perceptive and evocotive. nice job Pajo