New Zealand Chef
Nicholas Huffman Chef Profile
I grew up around people who saw food as more than just sustenance, where the kitchen table was preferable to the dining room and home-made was the only-made.
I lived, loved, learned, laughed, shared, cared and cried around that table in the kitchen, and secretly, I coveted the neighbour's wife's cooking, among other things she did.
As the years went by and the boy in me was banished by a flood of testosterone, I cultivated an unhealthy obsession with the wifely goings on next door.
If those hands, that tongue and her mouth could cause such a transformation to what grew in the ground, walked the earth, flew the sky and swam the waters...
What else were they capable of?
(Her lips also featured quite prominently, but for the purposes of this account, couldn't justifiably qualify as credible in a culinary sense)
True story, seriously, and sums it all up for me, basic human desire driven by pleasure and ultimately satisfaction, are all inextricably linked.
I would certainly have to list the many members of my extended family whose passion and energy for eating gave me so much to build on.
The rustic qualities of the Mediterranean style of cooking, seasonally based, restrained and respectful of the ingredients must certainly rate, if for no reason other than a sound approach to good cooking.
The south west of France and Basque region of Spain also delight me, with their robust flavours and intelligent use of the earthy ingredients at their disposal.
Conversely, the many and diverse Asian cultures steeped in history and spiced with exotic culinary practices, come to mind.
The Australians at present are doing some of the best food in the world, their access to immaculate ingredients, ethnic diversity and climate, by virtue of geographical location, give them huge scope for creativity and culinary horsepower.
The modern molecular approach to gastronomy may have it's place and it's gems, but for me personally, the altering of structures by way of chemical manipulation has nothing to do with cooking.
Which isn't to say the technique is flawed, by no means, the proof of the pudding is in the result.
If it tastes good, I'll eat it, which may sound hypocritical given my opinion on the above, but I just don't see the correlation between a potato and a lollipop.
An extreme example I know, but makes a case for questioning the thinking behind origin, application and ultimate presentation.
Like the nouvelle cuisine revolution that heralded in changes to the way we eat, rather than what we eat, the modern appliance known as the thermobath, will change how we eat, and cook for that matter.
The process of cooking in it's simplest form, by way of applying a heat source, acid, salt or introducing a live culture, is merely the breaking down of protein structures, so as to render food palatable and easy to digest for the body.
By applying a gentle, but constant and prolonged source of heat, as the thermobath does, protein breaks down without a perceivable change in structure, and for all intents and purposes of this example, still looks to be raw.
Modern wisdom tells us raw food is better for us because it retains the essential nutritional elements, of which some are lost by cooking, our bodies need to function and maintain good health.
Great in theory, but it doesn't take man's innate primal lust for carnivorous satisfaction, predisposed by our Neanderthal genetic association, into account.
Solely eating raw food would not only be boring, by way of negating the subtle interplay of textures governed by degrees of cooking, but would also be absorbed by our bodies at a slower rate due to the longer period of digestion needed to facilitate the breaking down process.
The thermobath process ticks all the boxes -
Health - minimal loss of essential nutritional elements and no carcinogenic contamination from overly high heat sources.
Digestion - ease and rapid rate of absorption as a result of protein structures being broken down prior to ingestion.
Energy - increased vitality due to less redirection of resources for purposes of mastication and lengthy digestion.
Pleasure - succulent satisfying, melt-in-the-mouth texture promoting a felling of well being due in part to the release of dopamine from the brain.
Ease - calibration calculations of type specific protein, temperature, weight and time take little effort with the use of a template as a guide.
Eat your heart out George Foreman!!!!
Awards, Honors and Societies
Other than for purposes of promotion to business ends, these are generally the domain of cooks looking for justification, or praise, in lieu of a lack of ability and should be dusted off when required then put away out of sight, for fear of corrupting ones sensibilities.
The past has no bearing on present performance, nothing will cause a cook to rest on his laurels faster than a reminder of glory days gone by.
Ability is the definitive badge of honour, worn with pride by those who earn it day in and day out, for no reason other than personal satisfaction, or the reward of a job well done.
Achievements, like individual milestones, are personal, and have no meaning once diluted by being paraded like a shiny pendant for all to see, other than to serve as fuel for arrogant endeavours.
Like a dictator who awards himself an honourary doctorate, then refers to himself as Dr, a cook who requires these will be no different.