July 2, 2012

YOU DIDN'T THINK THEY LIKED THE STUFF THEY CHARGE RUBES AN ARM AND A LEG FOR, DID YOU?:

When 'Local Sourcing' Means Aisle 12 (JEFF GORDINIER, July 2, 2012, NY Times)

Ask around, and it's rare that you'll find a leading light in the culinary world who doesn't have a semi-secret fondness for at least one of these supermarket stalwarts, whether Hellmann's mayonnaise or Skippy peanut butter, Premium saltines or Oreos or Cheerios, American cheese or generic ice-cream sandwiches.

"There is something to be said about all those things," said Dan Kluger, the chef at ABC Kitchen, whose Web site proclaims that the New York restaurant is "passionately committed to offering the freshest organic and local ingredients possible."

A lot of grocery-store staples "may not be organic," he added. "They may not be the best products in terms of our environment and GMOs and all those kinds of things, but we kind of grew up with them, and you can't help but revert back to them in a pinch."

Besides, said Wylie Dufresne, the chef at WD-50 in New York: "It's actually a fuller life to try all that stuff. I would rather not be pious about things."

He should know. While creating his playfully surreal reinterpretations of American cuisine, Mr. Dufresne powers himself through a day in the kitchen by dipping into a ready stockpile of American cheese slices.

"I like all cheese, but my guiltiest pleasure is definitely American cheese," he said. "We have it in the restaurant all the time. The guys know that they need to stock Land O'Lakes American, or Chef will not be pleased. I've got probably four five-pound blocks of it in my walk-in right now. I'm constantly snacking on it."

Years ago, while working for the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, he would fold a slice in half and spoon in a smear of steak tartare. "American cheese is the perfect soft taco," Mr. Dufresne said.

His habit might sound like one iconoclastic chef's personal quirk. It turns out, though, that top chefs across the country -- in Atlanta and Boston and even the high-minded precincts of Portlandia -- are more than willing to own up to a particular corporate-food crush.

And the only foam any of them eat at home is Reddi-whip.

Posted by at July 2, 2012 5:58 PM
  

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