No short-cuts!

In some circles the phrases “time savers” or “kitchen assistant” are regarded as dirty words. And when any suggestion of using an electrical or mechanical appliance is proposed – shock and horror! Surely modern catering kitchens have an array of gadgets and devices that can help the staff produce what needs to be served to the customers? However, there is still a school of purists who would kick against “modernisation” in the culinary field.

Granted, some of the more delicate and refined dishes do need special and individual attention that no machine can replicate. Like making pastry. Pop behind the scenes of any large pie maker and there are machines that mix, blend, add, roll out and do whatever they have to do to produce the pastry for the millions of pies they send off to the supermarkets in pretty boxes. And how much easier is it to pick up a roll of ready-made from the supermarket freezer to make your own “homemade” pie for the weekend? That’s fine for the home-cook, but any true pastry chef would be horrified!

Image: Karen Barefoot

Image: Karen Barefoot

Forget the pastry – what about preparing other ingredients? The poor contestants on Masterchef have to peel and cut and julienne and shred and mix everything from scratch, by hand. But in the real world, one wonders how many kitchens have the mixers, the choppers, the dicers for all this to be done mechanically? Or do the celebrity chefs only use mixers and processors on their TV shows because a producer is shouting in the background about getting a move on?

Doyens of the industry like the Roux family will no doubt espouse the need to do things from scratch in order to achieve the ultimate goal of culinary nirvana with the same logic that should be applied to the use of a calculator – you have to understand how the process works before you can use the short cut!

Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers are constantly engaged in finding ways to keep their customers up to date with what’s happening in the industry and in each client’s premises in order to ensure they run cost-effectively. Meetings take place all over the UK on a regular basis. Owners, investors, publicans, chefs, restrauteurs, planners, stocktakers – all the main players in the running of any business to keep people fed and watered! The meetings vary according to the type of establishment, but the common factor is the planning aspect. Planning to show profit in the best way possible without sacrificing quality of produce nor customer satisfaction and to ensure the efficient operation of the venture.

One thing a stocktaker could suggest to streamline an operation would be the new do-it-all-in-one gadget to save time that Anne Shooter recently tested. But I suspect that it wasn’t designed for the Roux or Blumenthal style kitchens.

In the same way as the humble “pasty crimper” wasn’t designed for use in the serious kitchens (it is probably also a dirty word with the Cornish Pasty Association). And you can bet your life that the winning pasty at the Brittany Food Festival in Lorient wasn’t a gadget-crimp one either!

The Trevithick Bakery from Cornwall who produced the ‘revelation of the festival‘ probably don’t even know that a pie-crimping gadget exists. But a Cornish bakery has taught the French a thing or two – vive la pasty!