One of the most hopeful stories I've read on American eating habits of Americans, from a NYTimes reporter and columnist I like a lot.

Confused about the glorious egg?  Some words, also from The NYTimes, on egg nomenclature.  I eat raw yolks all the time but I do prefer to do so with organic or eggs from nearby farms.  One thing I didn't know: large, jumbo, etc., are based on weight per dozen, with large weighing 2 ounces.

Last from last week's LATimes, Thomas Keller (working with reporter and editor Russ Parsons) writes about the expanding role of the chef and how chefs, rarely trained in making non-food and restaurant decisions, should approach opportunities.  A must read for chef-owners, exec chefs and chefs de cuisine, any professional cook, really.

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18 Wonderful responses to “In the Food Pages”

  • Vincent Mack

    On the Keller/Parsons article – it is a perfect read for most coming out of culinary school as well as anyone burned in the business aspect of the restaurant industry. I was lucky enough to have a FOH mentor early on – something that I make all my chefs have experience with from day one.

    Have a great trip dude…

  • mattatouille

    the TK article in the LAT was a refreshing boost to that section in a publication that’s been mired in a lot of internal and financial struggle recently. I’m glad they haven’t skimped on the Food Section too much. Having Parsons there is a great anchor to the section’s quality and stability.

  • faustianbargain

    wow…my respect for thomas keller just came down a notch. one would think ‘taste’ and ‘satisfaction’ is more important than ‘finesse’and china for a chef. but apparently, not. did he really write that? i find it *very* hard to believe.

  • JMW

    faustianbargain:

    I think you might have missed the part where he says he spent _two years_ just learning how to make Hollandaise properly. Mr. Keller’s idea of “finesse” might be somewhat more refined than you think and invites reading between the lines.

    He’s absolutely right, by the way, about the total experience. When people ask me about the French Laundry, I always tell them that the snobbery (or the air thereof) ends at the front door. It is holistically great, even down to the bill that is itself beautiful and memorable and not some little printed ticket. He thinks about everything.

    Mr. Keller is inviting his professional audience to remember that they are in the hospitality industry first and foremost; any franchising must be an extension of what warmth they personally present to their guests in their own restaurant settings.

  • faustianbargain

    perhaps i am missing something. that article, at first read, beggars belief. its tough selling food in restaurant these days and i am finding it difficult to swallow this “china” talk/advice from keller. its chef keller, after all…i must be missing something from my first read.

  • Kate in the NW

    Uh – yeah. Can we talk about the NYT thing for a moment? I know this blog has a lot of chefs who read/comment – and a lot of people who follow chefs like some folks follow sports teams. I enjoy being a bug on the wall for all the informed banter, but…while I find y’all fascinating (and will eat with great pleasure your creations…), my own main concern is FOOD. I’m the people you guys sell stuff too.

    That NYT piece was encouraging…but as I have stated before here, I do worry that people have lost the cultural knowledge and gift of skill in the kitchen. I’m afraid that preparing and eating good (real) food has become a pursuit primarily of the privileged (how’s that for alliteration?!). We love to watch you guys do your thang, but what can WE do? Really? Or are we just doomed to be Armchair Chefs? I love FL at Home, but I don’t got the time, you know?

    Maybe that’s not a concern for people like Keller (or many chefs)- the Plebes are not really his audience anyway – but it is a concern of mine. And it’s ironic, given the fact that most of the world’s greatest culinary traditions come NOT from the rich folks, but from the poor ones. At home. In their humble kitchens.

    Who knows – maybe the tanking economy will drive a new American Cuisine from the bottom up – a grassroots revolution.

    Or maybe our Celebrity-Chef-obsessed proletariat can learn to make good, simple meals from chefs (if you guys offer it – and I am most decidedly NOT talking about Ms. Ray or other pandering Personality Products here, but those of you with real serious talent). Classics – like – Caprese salad – are approachable. Are chefs afraid to show us how WE can cook, rather than how THEY/(you) can cook? I mean, we know YOU can cook – but what can you teach us (that is elegant, simple, delicious, economical, and approachable)?

    Hmmm – maybe a new role for the Food Network…

  • French Laundry at Home

    Kate in the NW — email me. We should talk. :)

    I liked Chef Keller’s piece in last week’s LAT about the criteria for making smart business decisions, because it’s something this next generation of chefs (and many in other lines of business) aren’t learning or hearing from their bosses or mentors.

  • Heather

    This is oddly apropos for me. I just had a discussion yesterday with an esteemed gentleman in regard to the very topic touched upon in the LAT article. I had not seen this post until now. I think it is imperative for chefs/cooks etc to understand the “business” aspect of running an eatery/catering business etc. Fantastic post, and timely for me too.

  • Pamela

    So… on the subject of eggs (related to the NYT piece you pointed out), might you settle an argument between my husband and myself? He, a UK native, says eggs should be kept at room temperature, or are at least OK at room temperature, while I’ve always been taught (and egg packages say) that they should be refrigerated. I know some recipes benefit from the eggs being brought to room temp before cooking, but we’re talking about general storage here. Is this a UK/US processing thing?

    And, uh, thanks for the first link, too. I’m just an ordinary family cook and I know I’ve been trying to embody some of the trends cited in that article. I just never knew the trend was so big. Very very hopeful.

  • Darcie

    @Pamela – Up until about 1998, the USDA/FDA didn’t require refrigeration for eggs, and most were kept at room temperature. Since salmonella and campylobacter reproduce at a much greater rate at room temp, the decision was made to require refrigeration to retard the growth of such organisms and therefore reduce the risk to consumers.

    My grandmother raised chickens, and we never worried about temperature for keeping eggs. They were left out at room temp with no problems. They will keep for a few weeks that way, but as with just about everything, the colder you store it, the longer it will last. It depends on the level of risk you are willing to take.

    @Ruhlman – many studies have shown no difference in the incidence of salmonella/campylobacter between organic and conventional eggs, and some studies even indicate a greater risk from organic eggs. Please don’t think that you are at less risk for these things because they are organic.

    That said, I believe the risk to be so slight that I regularly consumer undercooked/raw eggs no matter the source. You don’t think I’m not going to lick the bowl when I make brownies, do you? And for those who say that if I had suffered from a foodborne illness I would change my mind, nope. I was hospitalized once with a foodborne illness (most likely E. coli from a poorly-stored fast food burger). While it was terribly unpleasant and I do not wish to revisit it, I want to enjoy life and not be worried about every little risk. I ride a motorcycle and I’m much more likely to get hurt on that than to get a foodborne illness.

  • Tags


    There’s a fabulous French bakery about 5 miles from my house and the baker laments that he has to use pasteurized eggs or none at all. A shame, really, when there are so many new farms growing fresh eggs and dairy products nearby.

    Safe is one thing, but as the Kinks have been singing for years, “Paranoia will destroy ya.”

  • Natalie Sztern

    I haven’t read the article about Chef Keller and I am not in the food business, so out of sheer logic, it is not a far reach for a talented chef to design the plates for his food, on which it is presented to the diner. Who has the better knowledge of what and how a chef wants his food to look than a chef and one that is able to design his own cavasses (dinnerware) is just one more step in his artistic presentation.

    Which brings to mind another thought I have been wondering…so much emphasis is placed on teaching and basics, but how does a chef learn how to plate his/her food so it is enticing…just like the food stylist learns the craft of styling for photography how does a chef learn to ‘plate’ food? That, too, is an art.

  • Frances

    An interesting, but not surprising article about people’s changes in attitude about dieting versus a dietary lifestyle. People who fix their own food from scratch do tend to weigh less. Unfortunately, we’re working on our 3rd generation of kids, most of whom may not ever eat a birthday cake made from scratch, much less learn how to cook. They may not ever understand the difference between orange juice and the artificially colored and flavored, HFCS-laced mystery beverage that comes in the gallon jug.

    Anyone else squirm when they see the recent PR ads from the Corn Refiner’s Association on behalf of HFCS? Since when does a food additive (that is not even available as a product on its own to consumers) require advertising? Maybe when it’s freakish and only found in cheap and unhealthful processed foods? Since when is it the SENSIBLE mom who is serving up a mystery beverage and assuring us that it’s not that bad for us? It’s really scary. I want my mommy. Seriously.

    I’m not a foodie. I’m not a gourmet cook. I may not even be a very good cook. But at least the crap we serve in our house is home-cooked from scratch, and made from fresh, healthful ingredients. 😀

  • mike pardus

    Walk into the FL and, if you’re tuned into it, notice that the entire floor staff stops mid-step and- for a nano-second – turns toward you and smiles. Not consciously noticed by most, but assuredly it makes everyone feel welcomed and special.If you don’t find that tasteful and satisfying, the rest of the experience is probably lost on you as well.

  • ntsc

    I can not speak for the professional courses, but CIA teaches plating in their Boot Camps and weekend courses for the enthusiast.

  • wcw

    My egg question is simpler.

    Why do all vaguely commercially available eggs in California suck? The only really good eggs I have had here lately are the meat-csa items from the folks who sell chicken into Chez Panisse, and I can’t get those. The cheapest supermarket eggs in Minnesota are almost as good.

    FD: CA native who has eaten a lot of eggs in a lot of places