Noma in the 50’s…It looks like spagetti so we call it spoguti……and penicillin pudding or an elm tree on rye

This super funny sketch from the 50’s has a knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism of how our food would evolve as in Noma, Mugaritz or Elbulli. 

etc. etc there are so many examples I could add to this post , but what I am so fascinated about is the on point humor generated purely from this comedic geniuses imagination in this sketch from the 1950’s about what is really the reality of our gastronomic experience now. I love all this so this post is out of pure love for everyone I mention in this post hope it wil make you smile  🙂

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Hungry for CHANGE

The picture here above this article is Javier Ollero’s and Taka from Culler de Pau  and myself in Galicia Spain looking between the rocks smelling and tasting and observing what to eat. Ocean foreging. We do this all over the land around culler de pau and everything he uses is from his direct surroundings all as natural as can be. The elements are free and the nature is very alive and fresh in O’Grove were Javier has his restaurant. The Galician nature is still relatively pure and no chemicals are used to grow there vegetables.

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I find it hard to bring nature to a city restaurant and I hope that in the future more people will go to restaurants that set them selves up close to the elements in order to bring the freshest ,best and uncorrupted food to you.

I ate Macrobiotic most of my young adult live and then a very japanese vegetarian diet for many years to then completly loosing it recently after stressful work hours as a chef and living in London. Living in London is one of the hardest places for me personally, to eat healthy. I have to fight to focus on what is nutritious, harder then Skywalker having to concentrate on trying to lift that ship out of the mud with his supernatural powers in Yoda’s special training cave.

I dont mean to blame London however after being completely pure and from the countryside eating only things that I knew the name of the person who farmed my food  to arriving here in London were people were laughing at me when asking them “were do these carrots come from exactly?”.

I remember supermarkets at the time did not have the multi cultural offers as they do now. I remember walking along the food shelves looking at only white bread, tins, pasta, rice and quite normal unspecific vegetables with not that much flavour and when asking for brown bread all I saw was light brown toast.

Around that time there was also not many health food shops here in London compared to New York at the time and Germany  and if you did find a health food store they usually were quite small and did not really have much stock or fresh organic vegetables.

That was quite hard for me.

I used to grow my own potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, tomatos, pumpkins , greens, herbs etc and they tasted amazing.

I also was a vegetarian, and now all this is quite out of hand and I am hungry for change because all the things I have eaten over the last 5 years has made me very ill.

As a chef, I only source the best and prepare with the highest commitment for my guests, however when it comes to myself and especially between projects, I seem to forget about me completly.

Here is a movie I recently saw and it is really reminding me of all the important things I need to look out for when I go shopping for my own home life.

The things they talk about in the film like Aspartame, Amaranth, Parabens, Food colouring Yellow S, Tartrazine and Benzoic Acid…and one of my pet hate MSG.

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I do know so many japanese restaurants that use this which is a shame because by doing so  we are training people to really not recognise or appreciate the natural feelings and flavours by using this MSG.

I have to say many japanese restaurants also use a lot of sugar in there cooking.

One of the reasons some japanese chefs use MSG here in the west is because the traditional kaiseki is too subtle and many customers have complained of “no flavour” or “not enough”. I strongly feel it is partly because they are not used to Kaiseki so are looking for the wrong thing when tasting, but this can be educated in my opinion without the need of MSG.

I may also say that people generally think they enhance the Umami factor by adding MSG.

It is really tough getting the kind of fish and the vegetables that are on the required standard for top japanese cuisine. In order to produce  the finest dishes certain chefs require pure products to work with. Most highest ranking chefs I have ever spoken to in Kyoto and other country’s all agree that the sourcing of there produce is one of the highest aspects that every chef turns such a devoted and special attention to.

I always concentrate on how things are grown and thats how it will taste ultimately, if you are a real natural alchemist in the kitchen, then you will find your own flavour without having to use any product that does not directly come from nature itself!!!!! This natural un-manipulated approach is obviously far more satisfying and bombastic then MSG.

By natural alchemist I mean that by matching and investigating what you get from nature and combining it the right way you create natural new textures and flavours etc without any need for any additional powders!

Why would I want to add a white powder to my extremely amazing produce I just went searching for all over Europe?

We are all perverted by food stuffs that are de-constructed, inverted, elaborate, chemically separated etc etc that then alienates us from the refinement of subtleness and real flavours. In real keiseki it is hard for some people to really appreciate this, especially in the younger generations all raised on processed things.

Chefs also are lending ideas from big food production company’s and using them there restaurants. SOme I agree some I really dont.

Further more the food industry is a product driven industry that has separated itself from nature and is not only misleading us consumers but also brainwashing us with untrue associations of health, wealth and beauty when in fact you will have serious health issues. These health issues caused by all these foods with terrible components leading to hart desease, obisety etc is costing the government billions in health care. I can not understand why the government is allowing so much sugar hidden nasty’s in our food creating so many sick people??????

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Food is not food anymore if we are not careful ..food is being treated like a product more and more. Food is sold with a complete life package and dreams that are mostly misleading and untrue.

Coca cola is the most obvious one so please look at the film as it goes in to more detail then I can in this short blog of mine.

We have more food then ever before and many people are overweight or unhealthy. We eat all the time and everywhere but yet we are starved from nutrients. Many of us dont even know how to get the nutrients we need out of the food we choose to eat everyday.

This is a big subject specially in this day of consumer age were food is becoming more and more out of context and more and more a product.

The only point I am adding is from a chefs perspective that we often feel the need to be innovative and we try to do so by buying products to enhance or create some new or magic effect or fashionable texture etc that is created by adding powders of all kinds. Some are ok some are not, mostly I believe it is better to discovery from the nature as it is! You can always find anything you need from nature inorder to get your desired effects and there is no need to buy all these powders. Just because certain top restaurants are using it does not mean we all have to!

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Just for example Xanthan gum often used in modern gastronomy nowadays to thicken sauces, emulsifier etc. has the following concerns regarding health:

Evaluation of workers exposed to xanthan gum dust found evidence of a link to respiratory symptoms.

On May 20, 2011 the FDA issued a press release about SimplyThick, a food-thickening additive containing xanthan gum as the active ingredient, warning “parents, caregivers and health care providers not to feed SimplyThick, a thickening product, to premature infants.” The concern is that the product may cause necrotizing enterocolitis (i.e., NEC). As of July 10, 2012 the FDA has not established the causal link between SimplyThick and NEC.

Anything that MIGHT cause anything bad to a person, I as a chef dont want to use besides the fact Xantham gum is detectable on the palet and there are so many otherwise you can thicken something naturally!! Someone is definitely loving the fact that they can sell this stuff to chefs world wide in there glossy packaging.

Keep looking in and at nature, keep investigating, tasting, wondering, trying things out and questioning but try to stay natural and stay true to you!

Here is a film that I watched recently which I think reflects how food effects us living in a city full of product orientated foods and how that effects us as human beings in every way.

http://www.hungryforchange.tv/

The 3 Albarino’s

This is my first article in the new year 2013. For me the beginning of this year was a little bit challenging to say the least however I’m really excited to write about a very nice dinner invitation I got from 2 very special incredible people and shared with another two incredible friends and all revolving around wine.

I recently wrote an article about a wine producer from Galicia. My friend Hugo  who’s father is  JOSÉ ANTONIO LÓPEZ DOMÍNGUEZ a very special wine producer I wrote about just before christmas last year (see article link below). Hugo and his father was so kind to organize three wines from his wine estate so that we could make a little tasting together here in London.

I arrived at Hugo’s flat in Hackney which is in the beautiful old church that has been converted into flats. I then was introduced to an incredible person for the first time which was Christopher Kelly  of Theatre dela Mode (http://www.notjustalabel.com/editorial/theatre_de_la_mode).  His is a british unique designer who also loves many other art forms, he paints and is involved in many other projects to. His fashion is particularly popular in Japan.

He is such an extraordinary menswear designer. I love fashion and find mens ware fashion sometimes more exiting then womans purely because it speaks to me more in the sense that is is so wearable in a city like London.

I have always liked man’s fashion because of the different structures  layers and combinations, attitude ….almost being like kind of urbon city amor but at the same time being really cool and edgy.  I like to switch things up combining obviously something feminine with the masculine and Christopher Kelly’s work is a beautiful example of this, I really  appreciate craftsmanship and simplicity but within this simplicity I find complexity that is really satisfying to me.

Being a Japanese specialist chef we see simplicity as something that we aspire to and  in order to do this you have to develop great craftsmanship over many years of practice. The journey of  getting to this level is definitely not a simple one it is layered with so many different emotions, feelings understanding, insight, revelations, aspirations, struggles and many many many experiences and this is what really fascinates me.

I guess I see my own view when looking at Christophers work and I hope it resonates correctly to some degree.

Christopher had a collaboration project (see picture above) which was a exhibition of monster sculpture, embodying the spirit of the jacket. Andrew uses specialist techniques to construct imposing sculptures that express the very makeup of each jacket, its form, colour, style and even how it feels to wear it.”

THis is exactly the kind of thing that I like to do with my food concepts.  In japan the idea of something having a spirit or something else that goes beyond the physical- that is the spirit or essence of something, a kind of extended experience of what you normally see, is not unusual in Japan. That is the magic of something that resonates beyond the physical touching emotion and stimulating the way we can experience things.  That is completely important and interesting for me otherwise my dishes are just technical. To develop sensitivity for that and the skill to make this more experiential to people- is an art.

It can be a bit intimidating for me to try to speak about these things when you meet another very sophisticated artist or trying to write about this on my blog.

I would say in general that working with these concepts is definitely more unusual in gastronomy then fashion and it can be difficult to apply in a comercial business. However restaurants like El bulli and mugaritz etc do have a greater understanding and freedom to work with these elements and have influenced the gastronomic industry world wide with many avantgarde ideas that usually are more accustomed to art and music etc.

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“Celebrating a collection of re-invigorated classics, Theatre de la Mode has collaborated with paper sculptor Andrew MacGregor to create an elaborate exhibition of monster sculpture, embodying the spirit of the jacket. Andrew uses specialist techniques to construct imposing sculptures that express the very makeup of each jacket, its form, colour, style and even how it feels to wear it.”

My evening in the company of Hugo, Christopher, Ana and Theresa was an evening that was a truly rich experience for me  and subject matters were as abstract and fee without prejudice. It is very rarely that I actually meet other creative thinkers on everyday basis so when I do, I really get extremely creatively stimulated.

I would describe it as being overwhelmed and I love being overwhelmed.  It is almost like the richness of everything is overwhelming your being with new information and perceptions which is like being fed with new energy’s.

I am not a Christian however there is a saying which I don’t know exactly who said it -I presume it was Jesus but it said “that man should not live from bread alone” and there are definitely so many different ways to nurture and nourishing your self.

As a chef I definitely don’t just concentrate on the actual physical side of food preparation.

In the early training of my career I definitely focused on really understanding the physical aspects of cooking, timing, textures, all nutritional aspect, history and so on however- now I seem to focus on making the experience bigger by inviting other elements which you would normally not be concentrate on in a  conventional chef training.

A very good example of this is Mugaritz. Food defiantly has the potential to be as artistic as any other art form.

I do believe that perhaps developing this more holistic idea of different ways that the human can nourish his senses and being is an interesting subject to develop.

Eating in good company in a nice place with people that really care about you definitely has energetically a different effect on your body then if you’re on your own depressed and in the harsh environment.

If you look how we eat and were the food comes from and how it all is handled etc that alone is a very good place to start analysing how that might effect you nourishment ultimately.

I’m not having any particular revolutionary thoughts on this subject however it’s something that really occupies my mind and I do try to focus on this and see how far I can go with it however it is very difficult to find like-minded chefs who are willing to embark on such a journey of developing such ideas and of corse one has to also think realistically in terms of financing such a project.

This is just to share a little bit about what is going on in my mind and how to come closer to these things and creating a tangible operation in the very near future.

So in a nutshell meeting Christopher work was extremely inspiring to me because it is like creatieve parallel thinking. His project with capturing the spirit of the jacket is very much what I am doing with food. Seeing Christophers work assures me that I am not wrong in what I am exploring. It is always good to know you are not the only one thinking certain things and being a hermit you can easily feel you loosing track with others sometimes.

That evening we were to conduct a mini wine tasting together and comparing what each one of us actually got fromt he wine’s,  one was Nicola the other was Tabela and the third one was Trico.

Below this article I will link to a previous article which will explain in detail about where those wines came from and how they’re being cultivated in Galicia.

I have attach the pictures of the evening as it is to hard to write the events of the night in detail.

Hugo is working in the V&A so his home was like a treasure sanctuary of many iconic trinkets and wonders that you just keep discovering throughout the night.

A meal was also prepared for the wine tasting and very charmingly served on vintage collectables creating such a personal experience.

The 3 Albarino’s of Galicia

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Nicolas, Trico, Tabla
Hugo and Christopher
Hugo and Christopher
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Theresa and Ana from “flavours of Spain” they are importing the wine to UK 🙂
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Hugo had prepared this amazing Empanada for us to match with our wine tasting.
The name on the dish is Trico the first wine we tasted.
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First we tried the TRICO which is matured for 2 years. It is a young wine but refined and elegant, mineral and peaches .Details of the wine please see article link below.
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Hugo made this Galician Empanada to go with our wine tasting which was absolutely lovely made with so much care and love the most important ingredient in any dish!

DSCF0319 DSCF0334 DSCF0322 IMG_1179 IMG_1178IMG_1174This is a more traditional ALbarino matured for 1 year, very nice nose- parfume, delicate, floral, fruity, elegant and light. This wine will be fantastic with vegetable dishes, fish and seafood.

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All 3 wines have labels all drawn by Hugo’s great grandmother, this bottle has a little greek soldier on it symbolising the strength and uniqueness of a child that without trying is irrepetible as is this  wine.

This wine is my favourite, very clean fruity nose really fantastic for the kind of dishes I create. Please read the full article about all these 3 wines attached link below. I have not gone in to much detail in this report and it is important to see all the detail and specialist care goes into the production and history of these very unique special Albarino’s.

We only expected to try the wines but the food prepared that evening was so wonderful that I had to include the pictures. Sorry my camera is not good but I hope the spirit of this special meeting will come across.

All dishes were served in vintage vessels which was really a fantastic way to experience togetherness and sharing food. I used to be involved in a cafe called Macaron in Clapham and my idea was that all the crockery was bought from vintage shops nothing was matching I still love this idea.

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I like this wall of mirrors because you can choose what you want to see and how just like life. There used to be a childrens program I used to watch and the lady always used to say what window do you want to go through today? There was always a choice of different shaped windows!
I like this wall of mirrors because you can choose what you want to see and how just like life. There used to be a childrens program I used to watch and the lady always used to say what window do you want to go through today? There was always a choice of different shaped windows!

DSCF0315 DSCF0359 DSCF0360 IMG_1285 IMG_1271 Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 15.44.46I want to thank everyone for that very special night. I added this picture because seemingly really ordinary things in the right view can become extraordinary. I really like developing my senses and eyes to see the magnificence in everything. The closest thing that feels like god to me.

Alchemy of the moment.