Friday, April 16, 2010

They better be cooking

I was recently having a conversation with some people who fancied themselves "foodies". The conversation was an interesting mix of advice on restaurants, dishes they enjoyed cooking, and then on to experiences in restaurants. I had to take a step back when one of them suggested to me a particular restaurant I knew, and had eaten in. The person in question began to tell me all about this pasta dish they were pumped about, I was a bit floored. You see, I knew for certain that the dish was a dry pasta purchased at the cheapest of levels, cooked in large batches, rinsed with cold water to cool it and stored in the fridge awaiting it's turn to be called to the microwave. If any of you know me, it was an absolute impossibility to keep quiet on this one.
I jumped in with a rant about the absolute laziness found in so many kitchens about the fact they were taking a beautiful, simple thing such as pasta and making a big mockery of it...come on guys, make some fresh fettuccine! As a chef, and someone who refuses to cut corners at the expense of my diners, I was just pissed!
My argument is simple, if you are going to go to a restaurant and spend your hard earned money to eat there and enjoy someone cooking for you, THEY HAD BETTER BE COOKING! Restaurants are so often using the damn microwave, deep fat fryers for frozen garbage, and pre-made, pre-fab crap, it is just plan old disappointing.
After a calming sigh, we just rapped about honesty in restaurants. My new friend really didn't think about it and after this little rant, came away with a new perspective. He said to me, "how do i know if they are really cooking". To which my reply came simply, "ask". If you get the bread at the beginning of your meal and the server is smiling and says to you that it is straight from the oven, you will know...but please ask. make it a point to visit us in this world who really care about the integrity of the food, where it comes from, and love to cook it!
I promise all of my customers this, I will not go lazy, i will hand make your food, and i will put all kinds of love and attention into the preparations of your should anyone charging greenbacks at the table! (
chef matthew taylor


  1. If you are arguing that dry pasta shouldn't be used I think you are wrong. Dry pasta is just different from fresh pasta. But with some sauces the dried version is preferable. For instance, there is no fresh version of a light sauce on very thin pasta like capellini or vermicelli.

    Of course fresh pasta is a lot more work. Which is why many people only have it in restaurants. Whereas dried pasta is something people can easily cook at home.

    If you are arguing that reconstituting pre-cooked cheap dried pasta in a microwave is a bad shortcut, then I agree. There are also various chains that serve "fast pasta" by parboiling the dry pasta and then finishing it in boiling water just before serving. I suspect many of us can't really tell the difference in the result. It isn't really much different than all the badly cooked dry pasta out there that is fresh from the pot.

    BTW - thanks for the free beer on Friday. The dinner was great.

  2. I worked in an Italian restaurant for years.
    It was the saddest day when they went corporate, and decided to become a chain. the pasta and sauces that used to be made from scratch, went prefab, spice packets, prefab.

    The restaurant is now closed, all of them