TV Chefs Should Show How They Clean Up After Meals

With all of the celebrity chefs and cooking shows on television these days, I can’t help but think that it must be a challenge these people to come up any kind of recipe or cooking idea that hasn’t been already done a thousand times. I do have one suggestion for any cooking show producer searching for a truly novel idea; show how the cook cleans up all the mess he made after he’s finished cooking.

Most celebrity chefs are focused on meals that are practical for the home cook, most notably Jamie Oliver, who has rose to prominence with his shows and books based on 15 minute meals. Anyone interested in preparing meals very quickly should watch his show as he really does prepare some nice looking meals in only 15 minutes. The audience does not though see how long it takes to clean up the mess that gets left behind. If like most home cooks you do not have your own personal cleaning staff ready to swoop in and clean up after you as soon as you are done, you need to take into account what kind of mess your meal will leave.

Jamie Oliver often uses a food processor on his show as it can often greatly speed up the cooking process, particularly for those amateur cooks who are not all that proficient with a chef’s knife, but while the food processor can save time on the front end, they can be a pain in the neck to clean. You can’t just pop it in the dishwasher; you need to take it apart, and you have to clean up the hollow part inside the blade attachment that can be particularly cumbersome depending on what you are cooking. That is not to say that you should never use a food processor; just make sure you realize what you are getting yourself into.

Food processors are one of the biggest mess creators in the kitchen; there are all kinds of nooks and crannies where food can get stuck. Though using a chef knife can be slower than a food processor in the preparation, you can clean and dry it in about 10 seconds. It’s for that reason that I rarely use a food processor. I can shred a block of cheese in seconds with the processor, but I still use a hand grater when I’m making a grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese because I can just throw it into the dishwasher when I’m done. There is nothing worse than trying to clean a food processor after running a block of cheese through it. God help you if you attempt a recipe that requires you to use a food processor for multiple different ingredients.

I doubt we will ever see it, but I would love to see a TV chef like Jamie Oliver actually include the actual cleanup in the show. Some might think that it would be boring television, but it would have enormous potential for unintended entertainment, as the bright and cheery cook starts cursing as he tries to clean a food filthy food processor.

Why Would Anyone Ever Make Their Own Pasta?

I make a lot of things from scratch. There are certain things that just taste better when you make it yourself from scratch. There is nothing like the taste of bread fresh out of the oven. Even if you aren’t that good at making bread it will taste great if you eat it right out of the oven. There are other things though that are a complete waste of time as you end doing all kinds of work and creating a giant mess only to end up with something that is no better, and often worse tasting, than what you could have bought in the grocery store. There is no better example of this than pasta.

I have eaten pasta that was made by hand at several wonderful, high end restaurants. It tasted fine, but for the life of me I would never be able to tell the difference between that and the fresh pasta that I have bought at the grocery store.  Foods like beef add flavour, which is why it is perfectly acceptable to throw a steak on a grill and eat it as is when it is cooked. Pasta, on the other hand, is one of the foods that carry flavour, which is why it is generally served with tomato and meat based sauces. If you are eating lasagna, it will not make one bit of difference whether you made your pasta yourself or bought it in a grocery store as the flavour from the meat, cheese, and tomato will completely overwhelm the pasta. The pasta will impart only slightly more flavour to the dish than casserole dish it was cooked in.

That being said, if pasta was easy to make, I would still probably cook it from scratch; but it isn’t. Cooking pasta is an ordeal. Once you make your dough, you then have to roll it through a pasta press about a dozen times and after all that you then have to go about shaping it into whatever type of pasta you want. I guess I could see making simple rectangular pieces for lasagna but why in God’s name would anyone bother making macaroni, or, perish the thought, bowtie pasta?

Compare this with making bread. With the no-knead method, you can spend two minutes mixing together a few ingredients, leave it overnight, knock it down and dump it in a bread pan, leave it for a couple of hours, then pop it in the oven for a half an hour and you have a wonderful loaf of bread. The return per minute of actual work is tremendous. Making homemade pasta is, after making homemade butter, the least efficient use of your time in the kitchen. If you want to eat pasta and enjoy the feeling of cooking from scratch, just throw a can of tomatoes in a pot with a diced onion, some garlic, and some oregano and you’ve got a homemade tomato sauce to pour over the pasta. Serve some homemade bread with it and nobody will question where your pasta came from.