Many guests ask my front of the house staff “Is chef cooking tonight?” The answer is “yes I am.” This certainly does not mean that I cook every meal in the house but let’s face it as a chef I am orchestrating my kitchen from A to Z whether I want to or not.
("Is chef cooking tonight")
Spoon or Baton?
I visited a Mozart festival this past week and listened to an orchestra of 40 musicians playing violin, cello, clarinette, trumpet, drums, piano and so on.
The conductor was a bundle of energey making almost loops in the air. He did a masterful job in directing the orchestra - it seemed immaculate. The concert scenario was familiar because it is certainly comparable to the daily kitchen life. The conductor’s wavy baton movements came close to mine with my favorite large spoon (which sometimes flies in the direction of a line cook to get his attention. I did not see this happen on stage at the concert).
Is the Conductor in Tonight?
A conductor acts as a metronome to the orchestra much like a chef conducts his kitchen staff. When the kitchen is well orchestrated a dish will come to the kitchen bus just like the “composer” of the piece directed it. A chef has to be an encourager like a conductor to make the members of the orchestra play their best whether they want to or not, whether they are tired, hot or played that piece 20 times this week. Each time it must sing and flourish because for every guest it is their singular experience that counts.
“Maestro” Eric Weiss invited me to participate in an event called “The Taste of Music the Sound of Food and Wine” at the Steinway Hall Rotunda.
Champagne was freely flowing for a selected group of connoisseurs. A pianist played classical pieces by Mozart, Bethoven, Hayden and Strauss. My role in the act was to create a culinary course inspired by or complementing each musical piece. Towards the end of the evening live Blues entertained the crowd for dessert.
Thinking about the comparisons of food and music I noted how many foods or culinary tools are named for music or instruments …
chicken drum sticks
dinner bells (using music to signify the beginning of a meal, or in a diner when the food is up)
mandolin (an essential kitchen “instrument” for slicing vegetables and fruits paper thin)
opera cake (a layer cake)
organ meats (okay, maybe for innards but still…)
tuning fork (music borrowing from food!)
spaghetti “a la chitarra” (for the harp-like instrument used to make these square elongated noodles)
Can you think of more?
(Viennese Sacher torte with poprocks)
For a more pleasurable sound sensation try adding poprocks (the favorite childhood explosive candy) to unexpected dishes. Not only does it create a great mouth sensation but the crackle in your ear is a delight.
Chef’s Tip: Fyi “slurping” your soup does not count as “music” during your meal!