We are chefs in a very big industry and a world becoming more and more corporate as we speak.
However we are always going to be beings having a human experience. Loving and caring for my colleagues is something I never can afford to not feel. I love each person on my team as much as I love the entire aspect of that which makes us human.
We truly are all here to have a human experience primarily and therefor I am only interested in relating, understanding, learning and working together with people, animals and our environment as a whole. I want to thank Jhony D, David Legrand and Sergio del Castillo Mora, Javier, Taka-san , Lou and all the other people that I have had the pleasure of working with past, present and future for all the experiences and new understandings it has brought to me. I know it sounds corny but I cant be without my team, it means everything and it gives meaning to my whole life. The service that I provide and the result of any creatieve dish can never fill the significance of that of the people in your team and life.
It is not always easy to make people believe in what you want to do and it is not about what I want to do but to have a vision that people can personally relate to and have trust in. To have people support you on a special journey to create something from nothing is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had.
This does not just accure everyday, it happens only occasionally and when this happens you really see interesting things happening. This is what I feel is the most interesting part of creating.
There is a very interesting thing that happens when a group is connected in that way, which l would describe as a shared consciousness were when a dish is being development people on the team endorse the trail of creation – the technical side as well as the creatieve inspiration. It will manifest between all the key people and therefor it is a shared experience and everyone is connected to the idea and process which is important inorder to make everyone involved to feel alive and all this translates to the experience of the entire restaurant or event.
I come from a musical family so it is very much like the magic that happens between a band when they are creating and jamming or like surfers all riding the great wave.
Surfing a big wave is like becoming one with something so incredibly powerful and you are in perfect synergy with everything at that very moment .
It is this invisible energy that is so fascinating and that is behind all of creating.
There is you and others, there are ideas, culture, time= in the moment, seasons, tools there is a starting point and this invisible element that makes everything flow to a rhythm, making complete sense.
Creativity has it’s own intelligence and it manifests itself just as itneeds to be. A true creative leader will be able to share and transmit this feeling with all the people involved in a project.
It is not always smooth but this is also part of everything.
I love to see this energy filter through every aspect my work. What excites me the most about being a chef and life- is this and the endless possibilities of the nature of creativity.
When I meet chefs all I see is there potential and that is what I want to connect with the rest is a journey of everyday tuning into this potential. Many times in kitchens it is not like this and you are often nothing but a means to and end thats when chefs just eventually disengage emotionally and intellectually You just lost that which can make all the difference to everything in your business.
Sadly most cooperate investors/ or certain kind of owners or even head chefs of restaurants rarely understand or undervalue this way of working. If they did then they would facilitate things differently inorder to support this way of achieving there goals.
Creativity between humans without jelousy and defiled lower emotions is the most fantastic and the most positieve energy we humans can ever engage with.
I am not saying we chefs are changing the world however this energy I am talking about truly can change the world.
The secret of Culler de Pau’s successes is with out a doubt the fact that Javier Ollero’s is without fail always in the kitchen. You be surprised how many head chefs/owners that are chefs are rarely in there own kitchens.
Not only is Javier constantly hands on, on every dish that comes out of his kitchen- he is also incredibly in tune with the entire sequence of everything he serves creating an overal intense and consistant dining experience like I have rarely experienced in any other kitchen.
I usually always ask the chef to serve what he feels is best and it is a very japanese thing to do. We call it Omakase which just emphasises the fact of trust to a chef of such great ability to serve you what is truly going to be the best possible menu for you at this moment, taking in consideration your particular preferences and requirements. Below you can see Javier planing our menu.
I did not want to say what the dishes are as I think it is important to leave things to for the actual experience and the imagination.
This article is purely a commemoration to Javier for being one of the most diligent chefs and for always being in the kitchen at all times and his hands, hart and mind is on every dish that enters the dining room.
For me Culler de Pau is one of the greatest restaurants of our time and still very underrated. I personally feel that there are several restaurants on the worlds 50 best restaurant list that are not even half as good a Culler de Pau.
There are restaurants on this list that have 30 chefs working everyday and producing a good dining experience for a 40 cover restaurant ,however when I taste the food in Culler de pau produced by 3 chefs and 1 assistant chef for the same amount of covers it is absolutely mind-blowing what they can do!
Javiers magic lies in his intuition and strong connection to his surrounding area of O Grove. He closely works with the uniquest of producers that reside in his area and he respects the true flavours of his ingredients in everything he creates.
He is a purist and I can really appreciate his work. It works and you can taste everything directly without any unnecessary interference by the chef. The magic is to know how much to do and when to stop. It is a subtle understanding that is refined through being sensitive and intuitive.
Working with Javier is a real privilege. He has a real humanistic relation to everyone he encounters in his day from his own family to the suppliers, his customers and his team. I want to thank Javier, Amarantha, Taka and Lou for being such a positieve force in our chef industry and for sharing so generously with me and Sergio.
Galicia is an incredible place and I recommend anyone to go on a culinary journey and visit the great land and enjoy the great food that Galicia has to offer. I will soon recommend a Galician Gourmet tour but for now I leave you with the the incredible meal I had in Culler de Pau.
Hiroyoshi Ishida is cooking for 40 years. He is a buddhist but not a monk, all his dishes have a spiritual sense. Meditation is, for him and his wife, a daily practice.
The Japanese chef feels devotion to freedom which is a mirror of creativity. Because the architect of Mibu “is a lone wolf, who has maintained the individuality in a kitchen that is also marked by traditional schemes.
Ishida has developed a unique signature cuisine. Ferran Adrià liked his technique and creativity and the fact of being unique. Both reflect his spirit on the plate, as the Impressionists.Mibu his restaurant in barely advertised and in a seemingly normal pedestrian area in Ginza. If you did not know it is there you would not even see it really.
A tiny room 20 m2, a table for eight guests, and a unique exclusivity. This is the avant-garde restaurant Mibu, owned Hiroyoshi, Ishida, renowned Japanese chef. And it is trendy restaurant, situated in the fashionable Ginza district in Tokyo, is all the rage, despite its high cost, a few thousand euros per person.
A booking made months and even years in advance, can give you the luxury of dining at this prestigious restaurant, which is two hours of ritual. Only members and guests have access to Mibu, once a month and already made a reservation in advance. Without reaching questions, Mibu has earned its reputation as a restaurant is complete in all respects.
The menu is based on traditional Kaiseki cuisine, a cuisine that is both food quality and artistic quality, a key role in avant-garde cuisine. They are delicious for the eye as the palate. The menu is updated every month, and in each seasonal the products color, texture and taste is different.
To have a meal in such a unique setting and with such an experienced and artistic chef like Hiroyoshi Ishida is indescribable and unforgettable. This is pure and magic.
Ishida Hiroyoshi prepare your meal with a spirituality that characterizes it, is that Ferran Adria already said once: “The big difference between European and Ishida is that the former can cook with the hands, with the senses, the brain and even with affection, but never with the soul as he does. “
Yesterday I was at the restaurant show London and as usual I am devastated about the spirit of that event.
It seems it never advances. I travel the world to all the conferences and have to say the London one seems extremely dated and laking innovational spirit.
What could be a great opportunity to ignite the uk gastronomic horizons, has sadly left me completely deflated and feeling estranged .
On the upside however, on the main center stage, I meet Giorgio Locatelli for the first time and to my surprise I really found him to be a lovely person.
He was so passionate, you can see it in his eyes and every movement. At that moment my spirit became a little more upbeat.
For me it is important to see that devoted endless passion and love for cooking in someones hart and he is surely that person. He was taking time to speak to everyone without prejudice and indifferences.
I normally would not go to his restaurant as I am more a avant-garde underground person also I am a poor chef, however after meeting him I will definitely go.
He was showing us how to make Raviolo alla Bergese. This was his homage to the great italian chef Nino Berges.
He was explaining about eggs breathing in the fridge so you could infuse eggs by placing them by his amazing white truffels he brought in for this demonstration.
Giorgio Locatelli said: ‘The white truffle is so incredibly unique because it is extremely fragile and impossible for man to cultivate artificially. Our truffles come from the San Pietro a Pettine estate in Italy and grow in the ancient woods until they are perfectly ripe. I know our guests will simply love their delicate and decadent taste.’
He showed us how to make a good pasta from scratch and then presented the dish which was the Raviollo filled with a potato whereby in the center he then placed an egg yolk. After boiling the raviolo carefully he made a beurre noistette with a pinch of salt to then grate the magic white truffels on top.
I ran to the finished plate however I was mobbed by a crowed of people that just scoffed the whole thing down without admiring or smelling it first.
They could see people were trying to also take a picture but with no shame plundered the plate like a robbery.
While everyone was like a Piranha on his raviollo I took the opportunity to take a good look and smell of the white truffels.
The fragrance was devine and so elegant, it’s scent embedded itself deeply into the center of my memory. I will remember this particular fragrance forever.
Here are some picture:
Then Marco ….with his beloved found passion knorr….to be honest… I really like Marco but knorr is not my passion.. thats for sure.
When I was sitting there contemplating should I stay or should I go, I saw in the corner of my eye a guy building a tower of knorr and my hart deeply sank.
I understand Knorr treats Marco well and thats all that matters really, however I escaped to the side of the stage just incase the session gets to intolerable and revolving around knorr.
I used to work with one of the bread maker/ chefs that worked under Marco in the infamous 80″s. He told me he was having to make everything from scratch really labour intensieve stocks and prep. He told me at the end of the night they had to polish all the brass and then he lay his apron on the floor to sleep a few hours to then start the bread at 5 am.
Not to much different to my experiences of working in Kyoto or tokyo, except instead of bread we go to the market before the day begins. Astonishingly were I was working the chefs need no more then 4 hours sleep. I got used to it after a wile but in the long run I would probably look like the little people from the Dark Chrystal after the life force was sucked out of them by the nasty bird guy’s.
Marco was talking pretty much about the usual: how unhappy he was in the kitchen and chasing dreams, then he realised, he does not regret the kitchen time however he does not want to go back to that, about his love for driving and shooting and buying old railway station benches and other oddities.
Never the less he pulled the biggest crowd out of all the 3 other chefs, however it was more a “can you sign my book” and spectating poor old Marco.
He was swinging his knife a lot looking like he may any moment skinn someone alive, which was probably anticipated drama effects.
Here is the steak he later then cooked up that everyone gobbled up gladly. I had no chance of taking a picture of the cooked one sorry got mobbed by the Piranha crowd again.
I first came across Magnus in Madrid on a convention Incredibly good presentation on meat and how he approaches ageing and methods at the faviken.
I can identify with his style very deeply, as it is so similar to kyoto/ Japan and the historic elements of Japan. Japan being so isolated in the past, required the people to find ways of preserving foods to sustain food sources during unfavourable seasons.Therefor a lot of pickling was necessary and has remained a popular type of food to this day.
I was a bit sad that there were not many people sitting in to Magnus Nielsson’s demonstration and showed that not many people are aware of him here in the uk sadly. Everywhere I have been so far at all the conferences particularly in spain that I travel to, welcomes Magnus with full auditoriums and much enthusiasm.
Magnus is a very important chef and represents the purity of nature cooking that is more deep then the usual seasonality other chefs refere to.
He lives the seasons truly and anyone visiting Jämtland enter this incredible natural rustic farm dimension fully at the Faviken.
I remember him talking about, that being close to nature is not necessarily living in a cave or forest but there is the farming nature. I presumed he is referring to the very natural farming cultures perhaps from the past were farming was closer still to the natural elements. He of course has also an element of wild and raw nature about his work which seems to be his unique style.
He does not dress his dishes they look wild and natural. Noma is natural but seem more styled Magnus is wilder and in my mind it has something hunterisch about it.
I personally would have not gone to the London Restaurant Show if he had not been there as I always find the London Restaurant Show depressing.
Being a japanese chef I cant identify easily with the british chefs easily.
I came a bit to early and gladly so otherwise I would not have seen Giorgio nor discovered how cool he really is.
Also the guy who was suposed to ask him questions was most of the time silent, which was a shame. Magnus in Madrid Fusion was excitable and telling incredible story’s throughout the demonstration.
He is a good presentator, not only because of his interesting work concepts. Magnus is a very open and kind chef ready to share his passions with the world.
He is young but he really knows what he wants and how to be consequent with his concept. He seems as if he has been doing this kind of cooking for 20 years. He is very knowledgeable, precise and in tune with his environment, reminding us all how wonderful nature is and tastes.
Despite a surprising low turnout Magnus presented one of the dishes that he likes to present at the Faviken when the season is right.
He brought with him a rare bird called “THRUSH” that was very popular in europe Spain in the past however due to the popularity of it, it became an endangered and rare specie.
In Magnus’s region, the bird is in abundance and therefore a rare place to be able to try such a rarity.
Magnus cooks with no fuss and is as natural as his surrounding nature.
He showed us how to clean the bird including the head.
The bird then needs to be pan fried, however it has to be cooked firstly attending to the areas that need longer time to heat through like the wing shoulder area and the upper leg parts.
He simply toward the end bastes the bird with a little home made butter. Importance is given to basting the inner cavity of the bird to ensure the blod is not left raw which would be unpleasant to eat.
He then presented the bird in a nest.
It was very hard to take pictures at this event as the lighting made everything look yellow so I made the pictures in black and white.
There was not much of the bird to go around so I unfortunately also did not get a taste of this dish either. Someone said it taste almost like pigeon but lighter.
We will definitely go out to visit the Faviken as soon as we can and enjoy what ever he is serving up, enjoying the entire experience in Jämtland.
I wrote an article a short while ago on my blog. You can find the link below.
Staff meal is the most important part of the day. Many restaurants do it different ways.
In Ryugin Tokyo we stand eating in the kitchen with in 10 min. In nobu you have to be ready every day to feed 65 personel cooking something for everyone, vegetarian, salads, muslim etc.
Having to cook for so many people on a split shift is a challenge and to also run your section which is for about 400 covers a day.
Usually most restaurants take a moment to sit all together.
Most important is to think about good food, Chefs that cook on such a leve if eating bad things dont learn about taste and the other point tis nutrition. To make food to help chefs stay in form mentally and physically.
Being a chef is like a sportsman and nutrition should be taken care of more precisely.
Eating together is key as it is truly a family meal and restaurant should be always treated as a family affair.
Cooking rotas to give different chefs the opportunity to cook something definitely psyches up chefs to cook something nice helping individuals to learn and also share new ideas and cultures.
I have learned so much from eating staff meals around the world especially about peoples cultures.
When ever I am not working in a restaurant I am at a loss as I am not very happy cooking for just myself. I am so used to cooking for everyone and big pots.
Here is a nice video by Noma were Rene explains the importance and significant elements of the chefs family meal.