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Mount Rushmore of Cuisine


Kibbee Nayee
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I don't know where to put this, so I'll let Don move it to wherever is appropriate.

I was watching the Julie and Julia movie on TV last night, and it struck me that Julia Child is one of our greatest culinary legends. If there was a Mount Rushmore of Cuisine, she would be on it.

And then I thought....who else?

In my mind, of course James Beard has to be on the Mount Rushmore of Cuisine. And since Mount Rushmore is truly American, the other two culinary giants would have to be American or else have had a significant impact on American gastronomy.

So who joins Julia Child and James Beard on our Mount Rushmore of Cuisine?

I would vote for Jacques Pepin as the third, and then throw it open for the fourth face on the mountain --

Thomas Keller? Maybe the best chef in America today, but is he the best chef in America ever?

Anthony Bourdain? Game-changing book about the professional kitchen and then killing it on CNN.

Betty Crocker? Not even a real person, but who can deny that brand?

Maybe, as with our recent discussion of the best burger in DC, this merits a Rockwellian poll?

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If we are talking about people who teach/taught how to cook at home (which is solely what Child did), then you almost have to include Chris Kimball--his Test Kitchen has come up with some really useful techniques, even if a lot of the food is under-seasoned for my taste; although I'm always getting ideas from Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" shows, particularly when don't have an actual recipe to hand.

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Betty Crocker? Not even a real person, but who can deny that brand?

Maybe, as with our recent discussion of the best burger in DC, this merits a Rockwellian poll?

Betty Crocker is an interesting choice whom someone like Time Magazine might try and slip in to sell issues.

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If we are talking about people who teach/taught how to cook at home (which is solely what Child did), then you almost have to include Chris Kimball--his Test Kitchen has come up with some really useful techniques, even if a lot of the food is under-seasoned for my taste; although I'm always getting ideas from Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" shows, particularly when don't have an actual recipe to hand.

I dunno. Ick. Chris Kimball is among the most annoying TV personalities of all time, the "Cooks Illustrated" quest for the perfect meatball or the quintessential pimiento-loaf sandwich schtick is tiresome to the point of shoot-me, and Kimball's down-home reflections on the beauties of Vermont traditions inspire a certain sympathy with a number of mass murderers.

Marcella Hazan? Craig Claiborne?

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I dunno. Ick. Chris Kimball is among the most annoying TV personalities of all time, the "Cooks Illustrated" quest for the perfect meatball or the quintessential pimiento-loaf sandwich schtick is tiresome to the point of shoot-me, and Kimball's down-home reflections on the beauties of Vermont traditions inspire a certain sympathy with a number of mass murderers.

I don't disagree with you on this. However, they do come up with fool-proof recipes and I will never go back to making a roux the old way. The method his team developed for making one in an oven is just genius. I also appreciate the way they test tools and appliances. It's on those bases that I make my nomination--FWIW.

BTW: I agree with you about Marcella Hazan. (One Christmas, Dame Edna received two copies of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking--one from me and one from his Mom.)

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I don't disagree with you on this. However, they do come up with fool-proof recipes and I will never go back to making a roux the old way. The method his team developed for making one in an oven is just genius. I also appreciate the way they test tools and appliances. It's on those bases that I make my nomination--FWIW.

BTW: I agree with you about Marcella Hazan. (One Christmas, Dame Edna received two copies of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking--one from me and one from his Mom.)

What is this roux method you mentioned? I get CI and am an online member, but don't recall seeing an oven method.

I too like Chris Kimball and ATK. When I read CI and make a recipe (after reading the explanation a couple times), I actually come away learning something new, which is cool.

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What is this roux method you mentioned? I get CI and am an online member, but don't recall seeing an oven method.

I too like Chris Kimball and ATK. When I read CI and make a recipe (after reading the explanation a couple times), I actually come away learning something new, which is cool.

It appears that the technique has been adopted into this recipe. Alton Brown also did this on an episode of Good Eats.

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It appears that the technique has been adopted into this recipe. Alton Brown also did this on an episode of Good Eats.

What a neat way to approach making this labor-intensive roux. No stir, stir, stir and then stir some more. I also like that it can be made days ahead (makes sense really, just never thought to do it) and then you can pick up the rest of the recipe from there.

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What a neat way to approach making this labor-intensive roux. No stir, stir, stir and then stir some more. I also like that it can be made days ahead (makes sense really, just never thought to do it) and then you can pick up the rest of the recipe from there.

I didn't have any issues with the flour burning or clumping when I added the oil. I don't have the exact instructions (and you know how fussy ATK is on that score), but I believe it involved taking the flour off the heat and letting it cool down a bit. I certainly didn't need to deal with burnt or clumped flour bits. The roux was just a 10-minute job, followed by about 45 minutes in the oven while I did other things. Worked perfectly. Ask Waitman--he had gumbo for dinner on Mardi Gras this year (not that he would publicly dis any food anybody else made for him :unsure: ).

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Irma Rombauer! I feel like the Joy of Cooking is the quintessential American cooking encyclopedia, much more so that Julia Child's. Not to diminish her stature one bit, but I bet if you measured pound for pound in dishes produced, TJOC would outweigh Julia's work.

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Irma Rombauer! I feel like the Joy of Cooking is the quintessential American cooking encyclopedia, much more so that Julia Child's. Not to diminish her stature one bit, but I bet if you measured pound for pound in dishes produced, TJOC would outweigh Julia's work.

My quibble with this is that, as we learned from Julia, all those recipes weren't tested before publication--something I learned on my own much earlier, having made a few things that simply didn't work. I agree that it is full of info. The problem is that I don't necessarily trust it. Still, a case could be made for her inclusion.

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My quibble with this is that, as we learned from Julia, all those recipes weren't tested before publication--something I learned on my own much earlier, having made a few things that simply didn't work. I agree that it is full of info. The problem is that I don't necessarily trust it. Still, a case could be made for her inclusion.

I see this...and I raise you...

How tested were the ideas of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln before they took office?

(ok, unfair comparison)

(written recipe = replication intent)

(testing skipped, trust is broken)

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My quibble with this is that, as we learned from Julia, all those recipes weren't tested before publication--something I learned on my own much earlier, having made a few things that simply didn't work. I agree that it is full of info. The problem is that I don't necessarily trust it. Still, a case could be made for her inclusion.

Really? I've never had any problems with the Joy (and would be interested to know which ones you had tried that were duds). I use mine mainly for (a) baking and (b ) American dishes that I didn't grow up with and so don't know how to make. Things like homemade baked beans or clam chowder. Although if I'm not baking, I do tend to riff some and not follow a recipe to the letter, but I think maybe I used to?

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Irma Rombauer! I feel like the Joy of Cooking is the quintessential American cooking encyclopedia, much more so that Julia Child's. Not to diminish her stature one bit, but I bet if you measured pound for pound in dishes produced, TJOC would outweigh Julia's work.

I dunno. Irma Rombauer herself didn't actually know that much about cooking, and the Joy of Cooking over the years has become something of a cookbook-by-committee that doesn't have a very close connection to anything that Irma Rombauer produced personally. No matter how monumental one or another incarnation of the Joy of Cooking may seem, I'd say that Ms. Rombauer is an inapt candidate for Mount Rushmore. Fannie Farmer would be a better choice (as someone who revolutionized American cookery books).

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I'm thinking Alice Waters would be good to include.

While Alice Waters had the concept for Chez Panisse, she would certainly not be today's Alice Waters without Jeremiah Tower, who you know, actually cooked the food. I'd place Alice Waters in the Irma Rombauer camp.

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I dunno. Ick. Chris Kimball is among the most annoying TV personalities of all time, the "Cooks Illustrated" quest for the perfect meatball or the quintessential pimiento-loaf sandwich schtick is tiresome to the point of shoot-me, and Kimball's down-home reflections on the beauties of Vermont traditions inspire a certain sympathy with a number of mass murderers.

Marcella Hazan? Craig Claiborne?

After our meal this weekend, I would put Tarver King on that mountain.

A little bit of ATK gossip - did anyone see in the NY Times sports page for girls, i.e., the Sunday Style Pages, that Chris Kimball married the cute, brown-haired woman that sometimes does baked goods on the show? Completely useless piece of info, but racy nonetheless.

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Following on to this, there is an excellent documentary on Jeremiah Tower out now called The Last Magnificent. I believe that it opens in DC soon. Saw it in NY - they do a great job capturing a complex guy, and don't gloss over the fact that Alice Waters plagarized her entire first cookbook from Jeremiah.

"Review: Jeremiah Tower Doc 'The Last Magnificent' Sizzles from Start to Finish" by Joshua David Stein on eater.com

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On 8/25/2017 at 4:50 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

Looks like we need two Mt. Rushmores...?

For authors, it would be James Beard, Julia Child, Irma Rombauer, and maybe Bourdain?

For chefs, how about Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters (or Jeremiah Tower), and Paul Prudhomme?

Authors, I have no idea, but Bourdain isn't a good writer - he is not an intelligent man.

Chefs, you have to include Robuchon, Ducasse, Bras, Gagnaire, and Veyrat before any of the ones you named (then again, Mount Rushmore is American - are you limiting this to American chefs? If so, yes on Keller, and don't forget Charlie Trotter.)

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1 hour ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

Looks like we need two Mt. Rushmores...?

For authors, it would be James Beard, Julia Child, Irma Rombauer, and maybe Bourdain?

For chefs, how about Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters (or Jeremiah Tower), and Paul Prudhomme?

Alice Waters isn't a chef. Visionary, maybe. Maybe.

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18 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Authors, I have no idea, but Bourdain isn't a good writer.

Chefs, you have to include Robuchon, Ducasse, Bras, Gagnaire, and Veyrat before any of the ones you named (then again, Mount Rushmore is American - are you limiting this to American chefs? If so, yes on Keller, and don't forget Charlie Trotter.)

For France, no Bocuse? Trosigiros?

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On 4/26/2017 at 10:08 AM, Keithstg said:

Following on to this, there is an excellent documentary on Jeremiah Tower out now called The Last Magnificent. I believe that it opens in DC soon. Saw it in NY - they do a great job capturing a complex guy, and don't gloss over the fact that Alice Waters plagarized her entire first cookbook from Jeremiah.

"Review: Jeremiah Tower Doc 'The Last Magnificent' Sizzles from Start to Finish" by Joshua David Stein on eater.com

CNN aired this last fall, and it was collecting dust on our TiVo until last night. Fascinating documentary. Some of the fictionalized reenactments of his youth were a bit heavy handed though. Also clever of the filmmakers to weave in archived footage of Alice Waters when there was obviously no chance she’d agree to take part otherwise. From what I’ve read in interviews, it sounds like their so-called feud is way exaggerated.

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On 5/5/2018 at 11:00 AM, silentbob said:

CNN aired this last fall, and it was collecting dust on our TiVo until last night. Fascinating documentary. Some of the fictionalized reenactments of his youth were a bit heavy handed though. Also clever of the filmmakers to weave in archived footage of Alice Waters when there was obviously no chance she’d agree to take part otherwise. From what I’ve read in interviews, it sounds like their so-called feud is way exaggerated.

Agree on the re-enactments - do wish there was more/ any footage of Jeremiah at Loomis back in the day. Did think that the archival footage of Chez Panisse was interesting. Really captured what a dilettante Alice Waters was in the early years.

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On 7/9/2013 at 12:23 AM, The Hersch said:

Fannie Farmer would be a better choice (as someone who revolutionized American cookery books).

Overlooked No More: Fannie Farmer, Modern Cookery’s Pioneer - She brought a scientific approach to cooking, taught countless women marketable skills and wrote a cookbook that defined American food for the 20th century, by Julia Moskin, posted June 14, 2018, on nytimes.com.

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On 8/25/2017 at 6:09 PM, DonRocks said:

Yes to Bocuse and Troisgros. And what about Escoffier and Carême?

On 8/25/2017 at 5:50 PM, DonRocks said:

Authors, I have no idea, but Bourdain isn't a good writer - he is not an intelligent man.

Chefs, you have to include Robuchon, Ducasse, Bras, Gagnaire, and Veyrat before any of the ones you named (then again, Mount Rushmore is American - are you limiting this to American chefs? If so, yes on Keller, and don't forget Charlie Trotter.)

Even more so than Bocuse: Place #1 on the Mount Rushmore of 20th-Century French Cuisine goes to Eugénie Brazier.

She had two Michelin 3-Star restaurants several *decades* before Alain Ducasse did.

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