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Dish of the Day: What makes a great chef?

Dan Doherty
chefs blogs 300x225 Dish of the Day: What makes a great chef?

The two culinary greats: Ferguson Henderson, left, and Thomas Keller (Getty Images)

Take two culinary greats, Thomas Keller and Ferguson Henderson. One does magic with oysters and caviar and the other creates miracles with pig spleens.

Now, who’s the more admirable chef? Is it 3-star Keller, cooking using super-fine ingredients, sourced from all over the US? Or Henderson getting creative with cuts from the butchers that most would turn their nose at?

I suppose, it comes down to the perception of an ingredients. Take two divergent ingredients:  a truffle and a parsnip. We all know truffles cost an arm and a leg, and parsnips are in every green grocer on every shop corner. But in a real sense they are similar – both have a unique flavour and both are fairly versatile. If parsnips were scarce, some chefs would probably be going as mad for them as for truffles.

The question is, is this sense of ingredients being chased and prized because they are hard-to-come-by a good thing? Should every meal aspire to this sense of the ‘high end’: caviar, champagne , foie gras sauternes?

If I was a billionaire having a birthday soirée, my guests would be nibbling on “monkey fingers” (bites of chicken in buffalo sauce) a la Meat Liquor or Neil Rankin’s chicken skin hash.

Now that’s the type of party I’d want to be at; and the type of food I properly value.

@DanDoherty_ and duckandwaffle.com

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