Andreas J. Düss
Founding Partner & Chief Creative at Nourish Food Marketing.
Voracious reader, passionate cook, monumental geek.
Jon Jenkins, Director of Engineering at Hestan Smart Labs (the company behind the Hestan Cue), is a very smart man. In the above video from the Smart Kitchen Summit, Jenkins talks about how software can revolutionize the way that home cooks use recipes, eliminating human error to help them achieve the same high-quality results every time—just like a restaurant.
It’s an interesting thought and a fascinating video. In some instances, the future Jenkins describes is already here. Sous Vide machines, which lead to guaranteed and consistent results, are now available for $150 or less. Scales are getting smart, automatically adjusting recipes to fit available ingredients.
However, I do think that Jon is making a classic engineer’s mistake when he compares restaurant food to home cooked food. Restaurant food is designed to showcase skill and consistency. But the home cook’s primary motivation is love and care for the person he or she cooks for. Here, effort and emotion often trump technical skills.
If my kids make pancakes for breakfast on a Sunday morning that aren’t technically perfect, I’ll still be proud of them. They, in return, would bask in our praise and happiness – an eating occasion was transformed into a situation where children and parents demonstrated their love for each other.
But, if they employ a kitchen robot that creates perfect pancakes every time I’d still be grateful for breakfast, but the pride and my kid’s sense of accomplishment would be greatly diminished.
For engineers, inconsistency is undesirable. But for human beings, inconsistency, and imperfection is sometimes a powerful way to communicate very human emotions.
One of my favourite podcasts at the moment is the Smart Kitchen Show, produced by Michael Wolf from the Smart Kitchen Summit.
In his most recent podcasts, he introduces Suvie, a robo-kitchen combining fridge and cooking appliance, with sous vide, steaming and cooking capabilities all in an appliance not much larger than a microwave. It’s a mix of the Jetsons meeting today’s consumer trends, where meal assembly trumps cooking from scratch and convenience rules supreme.
Worth a listen.
Seasoning salts have been one of these things I kept reading about, but then not following up. My chef friends swear by them, as a quick and surefire way to season proteins with an added boost of flavour.
So finally, I decided to hop onto the bandwagon, after yet another recommendation, this time by Nigel Slater in Eat. My enthusiasm was being aided by a surplus of lovely fresh dill, thyme, and chives in the kitchen, all of which needed to be used before wilting away.
I decided on two flavorings, one Nordic and cool for fish and one warming and Mediterranean for poultry and pork.
For the fish seasoning salt I finely chopped a large bunch of dill and zested an organic lemon. The resulting mix was spread on a quarter-sized sheet pan (one of the most undervalued tools in any kitchen – I could not imagine cooking without them) and left to dry for 12 hours before mixing with kosher salt on a 1/3 ratio.
The warming mix contains finely chopped thyme, chives, garlic, lemon zest with a generous sprinkling of fennel seeds. Again, this mix was dried and then mixed with kosher salt.
I’m storing the salts in vintage mason jars and they should be good for a couple of months – although I can’t imagine they will keep that long. The first outing for the Nordic Salt was with a lovely piece of salmon cooked sous vide. It was perfect, with just a hint of lemon and dill.
I’ve always liked the gang at El Trompo, the little Mexican restaurant on Augusta Avenue that pretty much started the influx of Latin American businesses. Their tacos are simple, home made and the hospitality can’t be beat.
From Plenty, my new go-to vegetarian cookbook. Cauliflower, smoked mozzarella, eggs, sour creme, chives and smoked paprika.
After ten years of drinking tea exclusively, and in the process turning into quite the tea dork, I recently re-introduced myself to coffee. In my case the gateway drug were Americanos, especially when pulled by my friend Pouria of Cafe Pamenar in Kensington Market. The next challenge was to brew decent coffee at home. I… Continue Reading
Half a leg, smoked, Mennonite raised on a farm just outside Toronto. This year’s Christmas ham. I braised it with molasses, cloves and a handful of other spices for four hours on a low, low heat, then roasted it with a mustard-cranberry glaze until it was crackled and burnished. Continue Reading
I normally make my own duck confit for Christmas, but with three young kids in the house this year it didn’t happen. Thankfully the Christmas elves at Peter Sanagan’s Meat Locker had been busy and I managed to pick up four duck legs, all prepped for the oven. Here they are, in my old blue… Continue Reading