Or: About us
Also known as: Why we’re interesting, so read us, please?
More seriously: Categorization of Meal Producers
Bear with me a second here, this is the thought process behind the blog title. I’m a librarian, specializing in cataloging – I work with organizational schemas.
The way I see it, there are three approaches to taking ingredients from market to kitchen, to meal to (happy, happy) digestion.
Chefs, Cooks, and Kitchen Chemists
Chefs are professionals, training to reproduce a dish consistently (taste and appearance) reliably. Having never met any chefs outside of a business relationship (they produce food & I pay money to make happy noises), I have no idea about method. The key point here is the reliable and consistent reproduction of dishes in a commercial setting.
Cooks tend to know how food goes together; they cook by smell and taste and knowledge of ingredients – what ingredients do on their own and in combination. Typically, they do not use recipes and don’t bother with measuring ingredients. Cooks tend to go from the general (technique, ingredient, type of dish, etc) to the specific dish/meal on hand.
Kitchen Chemists follow recipes and measure X amount of Y plus A amount of B under Z conditions (1 hour at 450°F, 10 minutes on low on the stove, etc.) produces the foods. They are more likely to be bakers, less likely to improvise, and tend to build their skills from the specific to the general.
Now, none of this is hard and fast rules – it’s all a continuum of cooking styles in my mind. Also, absolutely nothing to do with quality. There are good, bad, and mediocre chefs, cooks, and chemists all over the world. This little classification schema only speaks to or about a person’s main approach to moving from raw ingredients to a dish of food. But it really helped me understand why I learned more from certain authors/recipes than others – they were teaching in my learning style.
So what’s this have to do with a blog?
The husband (Adam) and I (Laura) have completely different styles – which is what originally led to my thinking about this topic and coming up with this little classification schema. We are, in fact, so different in style, and (originally) such pure examples of our styles, that we cannot cook together lest we drive each other nuts. We do, however, act as prep-cooks for each other, helping with the peeling and chopping and the peeling (and the chopping… it never ends!)
Hi, I’m Laura, and I am your kitchen chemist of the title. (Seriously, you have no idea how long [years!] it took me to be comfortable with substituting ingredients within a recipe.) I am completely self-taught. Huzzah for cookbooks, experimentation, very patient friends/test subjects, and the internet.
Like I said, the husband is Adam (he’s a handsome guy [help, help, he’s stolen the keyboard from me!]) and the cook of the title. He learned how to cook at his mother’s knee (French peasant style, according to him). Also, he spent some time in restaurants, working his way up from dishwasher to prep-cook to line cook to short order cook.