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cooking shows perpetuating myths

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    cooking shows perpetuating myths

    First of all, what cooking shows do you watch? I suppose they are not cooking show as such, but I like Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (DDD), You Gotta Eat Here (Canadian version of DDD), and Chopped (both the American and Cdn versions). I watched Master Chef Junior just recently (those kids were amazing), and I like Chef Michael Smith (also Canadian) and Bobby Flay (also his new one - Beat Bobby Flay).

    But what I really want to know is when/if you watch a cooking show do you notice the things they do that go against what Dr. Blonder and MH have discovered are myths? For example I watched a guy brine a turkey with all kinds of ingredients - molasses, brown sugar, pepper, and a bunch of other stuff. He did use salt, mind you, but do you think that it was a waste of ingredients? Did any of that stuff actually penetrate to add flavour? Did it actually stick to the skin to add flavour? I don't know, but according to actual scientific testing it seems as though it wouldn't. And if it doesn't add anything, why is it that top notch cooks continue to perpetuate myths of the cooking world?

    The judges on Chopped always criticize the cooks who didn't allow enough time to let their meat rest. And the cooks will always sear their meat first then put it in the oven. I suppose it still works, but MH still has work to do to get the word out on the reverse sear. I suppose I am of the opinion that the high end cooks should know this stuff by now.

    So, am I the only one???

    #2
    I have noticed this too; but that is why we have the PhDs here to de-bunk them - like a BBQ Mythbusters!

    I can only assume alot of the myths are just perpetuated from one generation to the next without question - especially since many of the places visited on Triple D are multi-generational family run. I mean - who is going to question the way grandma or grandpa did it since it has been such a successful business model, right?

    Comment


    • Spinaker
      Spinaker commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree whole heartedly. Be it right or wrong. It's tough to mess with Aunt Meg's recipe when it works. There is always...."We've been doing it this way for three generations." It's Nostalgia. Nothing wrong with that, it just the way it is. But on shows like Top chef and the like, they have an obligation to tell the contestants and indeed the viewers, the correct techniques, methods, flavors etc. to make better food. Thats the end game on those shows. BETTER FOOD. In doing so, new ways of cooking evolve. New ideas are brought to the fore front and others fade away. Where as a joint on Triple D isn't necessarily going for better food, they are going for THEIR FOOD, THEIR STYLE. The way grandma or whomever originally made it. And thats why the cooking world is so awesome. There are so many different ways to look at it and enjoy it!!

    • mgaretz
      mgaretz commented
      Editing a comment
      I beg to differ. The end game on these shows is to sell commercial space (advertising). Their ONLY obligation is not to show correct techniques, but to get people to watch, so they can sell commercial space and charge more for it than other shows. It's television! It is not a cooking course you paid money to attend. Always remember, it's television!

    #3
    Reminds me of a story I can't find, a young girl is helping her mom who is putting a chicken in a stock pot. She cuts the ends of the legs off and her daughter asks her why, she says that is the way my mom taught me. She asked her grandma why, and she replied that her mother taught her. Luckily great grandma was still alive and so she asked her, she said the chicken was too big for her pot, so she cut the ends of the legs off so it would fit.
    Sometimes we don't ask questions, we just do things the way they've always been done. Everybody 'knows' you soak wood chips, why question it? I had an argument about a year ago with a 30 year old who still thought swallowed gum would stay in her system for 7 years. If you think about it, it doesn't even make sense, but people generally don't think about it.

    Comment


      #4
      I like Triple D - not for the techniques, but for some unique concoctions and suggestions for places to eat (there's a great Jamaican place in South Philly that was on the show). GF and I watch a variety of the competition shows, but the ones I like the most show more of the cooking or at least the thought processes: Master Chef, Top Chef, etc. Others like Iron Chef are too frenetic to really show anything of what is going on.

      As for the myths, I had an "argument" on a Yahoo group last week about not letting beef come up to room temp before grilling. Guy was going on about his 30 years of experience, how cold doesn't allow for smoke absorption, and wasting fuel cooking the meat up from 40 to 70, etc. He got all kinds of accolades from others on his knowledge. *Sheesh*

      Comment


      • W.A.
        W.A. commented
        Editing a comment
        Reverse seared a frozen tri tip the other day (frozen solid right on the weber kettle). Did not let it rest. You all probably know how it came out.

      #5
      Don't anyone take offense, as none is intended here; but amateurs think technique, where professionals have to think logistics. At home, or for a one time serving(for example), reverse searing is fantastic. However, for a kitchen in continuous service, it can be a high waste and low profit deal. At the restaurant, we serve dozens of steaks in any given shift. If we were to reverse sear, we would have to hold these steaks at 120-130 for the whole shift, which is against local health codes. Even if you do hold them successfully, you have to be a bit of a soothsayer to predict the customers preferred degree of doneness, which will make it a nightmare when you are busy, as there is zero room for error. Then, there is the issue of any leftovers. From a cost benefit point of view, it doesn't make sense to use a $10.00 a pound product, for example, where a $4.00 a pound product can be used. So, if you use the leftovers somewhere else, you lose money every time you use said leftovers. At home? It's no big deal.

      Having said all that,on Christmas Eve, we will be doing a smoked, then reverse-seared tender. We'll finish with a pecan-bacon crust. It'll be epic, but we will be running around like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest! We'll have to cook some to 110, some to 120, and some to 135(before searing and then crusting).

      As far as the celebrity chefs are concerned, look at their business track record. Many will open a place with investors, stay a couple years, then they are gone after the honeymoon period is over. This type of thing is very, very common in the industry. I won't work at that type of place because it is usually too volatile. Since the place usually revolves around this chef, you are only as safe as the daily emotional place that the chef occupies. Most are not good businessmen/women. However, they are very entertaining on TV, for the same reasons.But, it is mostly hype, with little substance, in my opinion. Dichotomy at work, I suppose...lol

      I love DDD for the eclectic ways different folks approach their food. Many cooking ideas, from this show, have made their way into my kitchen.But, it is still production cooking. The beauty of interacting with the gifted amateurs here, is that said gifted amateurs, overall, make better food. This is because they don't have to worry about putting out 200 of some dish, but can spend the time and love on just a couple. That fact affects technique and approach. I love this site for that reason. No rules. Do it the way YOU like. Just what the doctor ordered.

      Comment


      • _John_
        _John_ commented
        Editing a comment
        I suppose a lot depends on the type of restaurant, a high volume place couldn't do it, but the little steakhouses I go to can do it just fine. The place I usually go is just barely more expensive than Ruth's Chris, but way better, they get it perfect every single time. High volume places usually put out inferior product and I don't get the right doneness even 50% of the time. Just different business models.

        Very much agree on the celebrity chef comments, you don't see those places open long at all, while most of the DDD places have been open years if not decades. I've eaten at a couple of those places and the prices certainly aren't justified. Some weird place in Dallas that thought good appetizers were pickled vegetables and provided a giant boiled carrot to everyone.

      • HC in SC
        HC in SC commented
        Editing a comment
        Very true, when you are counting cost per plate and wait / delivery times you gotta make it happen. If my ribs at home run 1 hour late, no biggie - but in a restaurant setting no dice.

        I have contemplated, never considered mind you, opening a restaurant or even a catering business, but just like the bar business, it's not like making drinks at home for guests.

        Good perspective Strat!

      • mtford72
        mtford72 commented
        Editing a comment
        Great commentary Strat50 on the logistics, agree it is a totally different animal for the production line. That said, Guy / Bobby, etc. do enough talking to the camera to say 'you could do it like X at home'.
        I'm sure everyone here has had a comment at some time from an appreciative guest along the lines of 'you should open a restaurant'. It's a whole different world cooking for the masses.

      #6
      I like the guy on BBQ PitMasters that was covering a brisket with honey and butter, and calling that good bbq. Hilarious.

      Comment


      • Spinaker
        Spinaker commented
        Editing a comment
        Me too. I saw Myron Mixon on Craig Ferguson Late Night show one night. Not joking, he took hand fulls and hand fulls of butter and put them right on top of a muffin pan filled with chicken. The butter was stacked on top probably 4 inches thick. Just pieces of butter. He then threw it on to a WSM and closed the lid. How in the sam hell is that BBQ? I lost some respect for him right there.

      #7
      very interesting comments. thanks for indulging my question. I see the point about high volume and the notion that a restaurant has different needs and timelines than we do at home. However, some of the things I've seen them do seem to be a waste of time and ingredients. I still enjoy the shows (Triple D) and I like watching what they do and how they do it.

      And yes, it's human nature to do things just like grandma/grandpa used to do. I watched a video on-line where this woman was explaining how to cook a turkey the way her grandma always did it. The legs were tied together, I think she basted it the whole cook, and she cooked it breast down so that all the juices went to the breast meat. She may very well have ended up with a great turkey but she didn't really offer an explanation as to why her method 'worked'. What I like about this website is that there is a reason for the technique that is backed up with research and logic. Not just opinion.

      Still hard to convince Dad that stuffing shouldn't be cooked in the turkey. Oh well, it's nice to be able to complain about relatively trivial matters. Life is good.

      Comment


      • _Keith
        _Keith commented
        Editing a comment
        It took me a while to come around on the stuffing. "But the juices add flavor to the stuffing!"
        Now I just add a little stock to the stuffing in the oven.

      #8
      Theres a lot of good info out there. Public TV offers some great stuff. End of the day it entertainment and view discretion is advised. I just learned how the french stuff a turkey on Hurbert Keller's show and all of the stuffing was pre cooked. (chicken, chicken liver, pork fat and chestnuts) I can see where that changes the game. At least these shows make me think, explore and learn new food as well as culture.


      Great topic SB, thanks.
      Last edited by Jon Solberg; December 21, 2014, 07:12 PM.

      Comment


        #9
        Great points from everyone in this thread. I agree too with a lot of nostalgia and the 'that's just how I do it, and it's the best' line of thought.

        Good points to take away from all the comments here:
        1) Production is VERY different than the backyard cook
        2) Competition methods are VERY different from both production and the backyard cook
        3) Grandma's way tastes great, and it's grandma's way, so leave it alone
        4) Guys that introduce something that varies from what you've done your whole life are never popular at first, even if they show the science of their ways
        5) Once the guy in #4's techniques becomes the celebrity chef's or the famous cookbook author's "own" ideas, then they'll be accepted.
        6) People will always argue their way is better, take beer can chicken for instance. SMH on that one.
        7) Some people are looking for a different end product than we are, so their way may be the best to them

        Comment


        • Spinaker
          Spinaker commented
          Editing a comment
          Such a diplomat, Huskee

        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, sometimes I try. Other times not so much

        #10
        It's kind of funny because as I was putting on my butts at about 130 this morning I was thinking that everyone that was going to eat it was happily asleep in their bed. After 12 hours of work and care they devoured it in less than 30 minutes. Lots of compliments and all that stuff, but its pretty crazy the amount of work we put into what we do, and i'd say 75% of people never know what's involved.

        Comment


        • Spinaker
          Spinaker commented
          Editing a comment
          I was thinking the same thing. For them its a 30 min experience. For us its 12 + hours for them to be able to enjoy it!! Plus, playing with fire is fun.

        #11
        Originally posted by John View Post
        It's kind of funny because as I was putting on my butts at about 130 this morning I was thinking that everyone that was going to eat it was happily asleep in their bed. After 12 hours of work and care they devoured it in less than 30 minutes. Lots of compliments and all that stuff, but its pretty crazy the amount of work we put into what we do, and i'd say 75% of people never know what's involved.
        I know what you mean, I think that every time. When I made my last brisket I set my alarm for 330 am, wandered outside in literally the middle of the night, fired up my offset, went to the wood pile and scared bedded deer from the woods, tended the fire through the morning and early day while I sipped coffee.... No one at dinner that evening had any clue what I did or why I was so tired, but the fact that everyone enjoyed themselves and complimented my brisket was what made it worth it. I knew what it took and it was gratifying.

        Comment


        • _John_
          _John_ commented
          Editing a comment
          Nah I'd use one too if I had the time, and wasn't so lazy. The PBC can certainly output great food with little to no interaction, but if you want it even better you have to be out there tweaking and making adjustments, especially if you want to maintain a temp outside the norm or if you have more meat than usual.

        • Spinaker
          Spinaker commented
          Editing a comment
          HA, I would if I could man!!! My PBC overnight kept me up all night. Couldn't sleep any way. So the temp might as well have been yo-yoing all night.

        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          @Spinaker, I suppose it would be hard when smoking is as exciting to you as it is to me. I probably couldn't go back to bed either. Labor of love.

        #12
        Huskee nailed it. There are many differences between production and home cooking. However, there are techniques, used by one, that can be useful to the other. The fun, in what we all do, is balancing this "yin yang" concept between both worlds. The endgame is better food for all. The cool part, if one seeks it, is realize what is hype and what is "just cooking." In other words, " Do the voodoo you do so well!" Cook "YOUR" food. Take ideas from what you see and hear, and filter these ideas through your own culinary sensibilities. That is the definition of what any good chef does. Just because someone is in the business does NOT mean their path is the one you should follow. Yes, the little tricks can help, but as you gain experience, go your own way.

        Comment


          #13
          I can't stand it though when someone gets "chopped" just because they didnt let their steak rest or it was a little on the rare side. They literally judge on technique sometimes and not taste or appearance.

          Comment


          • HC in SC
            HC in SC commented
            Editing a comment
            Especially when some jerk doesn't use a required ingredient and they get a free pass and move to the next round.

          • _John_
            _John_ commented
            Editing a comment
            The only way to guarantee a loss is what a few have done, add a bit of AB Negative to the plates and serve them anyway.

          • HC in SC
            HC in SC commented
            Editing a comment
            True never seen a blood mishap get a pass. Have seen undercooked chicken and pork get one though....

          #14
          I agree with many of the comments here and think Strat and Huskee said it best.

          At the end of the day, when I'm on the road I eat out. When I'm home I eat in. My food is better, but it takes much longer and I have to futz with it. It takes me 2 hours to cook steak. 6 hours to cook ribs. 17 hours to cook pork shoulder. Heck when I cook pork shoulder my fuel costs are as high or higher than my meat costs.

          Comment


            #15
            here's the thing, from my point of view.

            We have fanatics creating websites assaulting assumed knowledge because if we think we already know everything then we stop asking questions. "Why" is the most important word in the history of humanity, applied equally to theoretical quantum astrophysics and backyard barbecuing.

            Everyone gets the gross steps, the big picture stuff, correct. Low and slow. Sugar and salt. Seared on the outside, red on the inside. If you do that, it's going to be good, whether you rest it, bring it up to room temp, sear or reverse sear, rub and rest or rub and cook, etc. Lots and lots of beer can chickens are eaten with gusto, every summer.

            The little things, those are nuances, incremental improvements. They are no harder to do the right way than they are the wrong way. Will your stuff come out better? Maybe. There's certainly nothing wrong with letting your meat rest after cooking, other than you could have already eaten by now. But if you learn and incorporate new knowledge, new methods, you will get better results with equal or even less effort. And that is good.

            Let people do what they do. The truth spreads by experiencing better flavor, not by assaulting others' methods. Food was pretty good before Craig Goldwyn and Greg Blonder started experimenting, writing, and reporting. At least I don't recall complaining. Instead, I'm going to incorporate the new techniques into my own process, and when asked, I'm going to explain, demonstrate, and then share where I got my information: HTTP://WWW.AMAZINGRIBS.COM. Ideas spread because they are better. Ideas spread because they work. The truth is an indomitable force.

            Comment


            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              Well said Mosca

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