Philosophy of Cooking
My Philosophy of Cooking
I am going to provide you with a couple of my simplest and favourite soup recipes, however, first I thought I would tell you a little about myself and my approach to cooking.
I have been cooking professionally for over 40 years. I apprenticed in fine dining where I learned the classic French Brigade system of kitchen management. I learned about mirepoix and their variations, roux, clarified butter, pure starch slurries and liaisons. I developed skill in creating from scratch; stocks, brown sauces and their derivatives, white sauces, tomato sauces, veloutés, beurre Blanc, hollandaise sauce, and its variations. I learned about butchery and spent a couple of years as a pastry chef before finally spending a year as a Sous chef.
After leaving fine dining I moved on to work in chain restaurants, and roadhouses. This was a major change from fine dining. Here it was mostly cooking of already prepared foods and plating of items. Virtually nothing was made from scratch. Steaks were pre-portioned to size the same with burgers, chicken breasts etc. Sauces came either in powder form with only the adding of water and heating required or already completely prepared, just open the container and use. The logic in this was to ensure consistency of product across multiple locations. Quite honestly the quality of the meals produced in this way was excellent. Not to the quality of the best fine dining but then again it didn’t require the same level of skill, time, or cost.
Following my time in fast casual dining I struck out on my own and opened a restaurant where I employed a mix of made from scratch and prepared soups, sauces, entrée items etc. It was also at this time that I spent a year in China where I opened a café with a Chinese friend of mine. That was a real learning experience; trying to provide western style dining in an Asian culture.
The bottom line is, I try to keep cooking healthy, nutritious, and as simple as possible. You will notice in my recipes that, besides fresh ingredients, I often use powder bases. Not because I don’t know how to create the stock or sauce from scratch but rather because the powder base works well, still produces a high-quality final product, and makes it easy. I’m not a Michelin Star Chef, nor do I want to be one. I think cooking should be pleasurable, not a chore, and I would like you to be able to recreate my recipes easily.
Enough about me, lets get to those recipes I mentioned at the start.
Two of my favourite soups are Chicken Noodle and Beef Barley, sometimes called Scotch Broth. These two soups, although different have a lot of similarities. They both start with a vegetable base of sautéed, diced carrots, onions, and celery. From here, for chicken noodle, you add the sautéed vegetables to chicken stock, add cooked shredded chicken and egg noodles. For the beef barley you add the sautéed vegetables to beef stock, add beef pieces and pearl barley. What could be simpler.