I love cooking, and Mrs. FW sure as hell loves my cooking. I evolved from the typical 20-something bachelor living on mac and cheese, pizza, and other such haute cuisine, to making dinner for Mrs. FW when we were dating (I'm sure I overcooked the shrimp!), to basically being unafraid of trying to prepare anything. When I go to the MiL's house, I invariably "lend a hand," and friends of ours who are having a group together to their new house have already asked if I would mind helping in the kitchen.
It's all good, since I love to eat, cooking relaxes me, it's another man zone (fire! sharp implements! vivisection!), and I get to put theory of nutrition into practice. Mrs. FW's most frequent criticism when we eat out is [I]You could make that better...[/I] When I look at a recipe, I can basically get a sense of how it will all combine in my gustatory imagination. Dinner plans are always bubbling in the back of my head, and I'll think about what's in the fridge, recipes or techniques I've tried, and possible variations; get home and all the mise en place and order of cooking is mapped out. It's like a puzzle.
Things that separate real chefs from home chefs like me: knife skills and other cooking skills. I can wield a knife, but real chefs are just thaaaaaaat much cleaner in the consistency of their dice, etc. Speed of prep - again, they're in a different gear. Not that I'm slow, but what amazes me about these cooking shows is how flippin' fast they are. The big jump is one of imagination. I can cogitate and come up with interesting spice combinations or food deconstructions, but some of these chefs are just way out there, thinking in a whole other dimension. I have a ton of respect for people who make an art out of cooking.
Me, I just like cooking for my DW, friends and family. It's good stuff, almost always. That works for me.
Thanks for the Iron Chef votes, ladies! My glasses do look like Morimoto's!!!
Science lab, for the win!
I like modifying recipes, but also coming up with some of my own. Sometimes it turns out great, sometimes it turns out awful. For example, I tried this tandoori spice blend recipe a while back -- it was decent but not perfect. Cut the cumin in half and upped the red pepper, and it's getting closer to perfection. On the other hand, I tried a dry rub of allspice, cayenne, and coffee on a pork roast yesterday, and it was absolutely awful. Might have just used too much of it, but the allspice was overpowering. I'll try it with less next time =)
It's a science and an art and it's creative in both senses. I enjoy watching the Masterchef competitions on the BBC.
My culinary creations are widely appreciated and I go for taste and texture combinations, rustic style with simple visual appeal but can't be arsed with honing presentation on anything so ephemeral.
Science lab is true... I've done everything from lacto-fermenting vegetables to sous vide. In some ways it is a bit of a retro science lab (I have a large collection of cast iron cookware...) and in some ways I'm not your usual scientist (I very rarely set out to replicate an experiment - my own or anyone else's).
One of the life skills I learned growing up was how to cook unusual-by-north-american-standards food. By my late teens I could cook food that at least approximated dishes from Asia, Africa, India, South America, etc., with a specialty in turning "whatever is around" into something tasty if not precisely true to any particular type, and I've expanded that. Somewhere along the way I lost the ability/desire to actually follow recipes (except for highly chemistry-dependent foods like pickles and bread)...I read recipes for ideas but I haven't followed one in years. I adjust quantities, substitute ingredients, and in general do my own thing, which is OK nowadays but led to some spectacular failures along the way. :)
Wow! I love all the responses. FW, I love that your wife "complains" that you could make it better when you go to restaurants. That's one of the reasons I never go out for Italian - because I can make it better, or at least I used to 'til I said buhbye to pasta dishes (still honing skills on others, but make a damn fine tomato sauce, etc.).
I realized after I posted the poll that it would likely be skewed to people who like to cook because I put it in the Recipes forum. I probably should have put it in Nutrition for a more complete overview of the entire community. Still and all, look at all the rock stars we have. I so enjoy when primal goes away from counting macros to just the plain old love of good food.
[QUOTE=namelesswonder;1024640]Finnegan's Wake is totally an iron chef. I think Canio is too.[/QUOTE]
Thanks nameless. I voted as an Iron Chef yo. Not because I am Morimoto or even Bobby Flay, but because given the choices it seemed the best fit by my definitions.
My kitchen is not a science lab. Flavor combinations have existed for centuries. Why would I mix random shit together for the sake of 'science' when hundreds/thousands of chefs have figured out what works? Not that I don't change recipes around, but I consider that more modification than experimentation.
Also, to me a foodie (god I hate that term) is one who love food. That doesn't mean they can cook for shit. I know/see plenty of hipster foodie food-photo-taking blog types who couldn't cook an egg.
Hmmm...I guess I could have chosen "Good on technique, but I use others' ideas more than my own." but frankly if you end an answer with , yo! I am going to pick it 9/10 times ;)
But if 7 other did it... then I think I undersold myself and I want to just make it known that the only reason I didn't is because I was actually comparing myself to the level of the Iron Chefs.
"Iron Chef" might be a slight exaggeration but I did cooked professionally for close to 20 yrs. Also about a year ago my husband and I went with another couple to a restaurant where the chef was recently on Iron Chef and we were all unimpressed. I really wanted it to be good, it would be nice to be wowed by restaurant food (other than ethnic). The friend I went with knew the chefs and they came out to talk to us and they went on and on about how this and that was local. After they left the table my husband turned to me and said big deal we always eat local and it's a lot more interesting and tasty.
Normally I do not toot my own horn, but in all honestly it is something I do well. I was responding to the "chef" part of "Iron Chef". That's what was embroidered under my name on my chef's coat. If some one asked to speak to the chef I would be the one they'd talk to. "Iron Chef" I am not it's true from what I've seen you have to be more of a show boat, I'm a little too introverted for that.
And I bow before Morimoto.
I'm not a fast cook or a slow cook -- I'm a half-fast cook.
More seriously, I rely on recipes. Sometimes I will take one that isn't primal and tweak it to make it so; other times, I will make changes to a recipe for the second time I make it. Just not super creative in the kitchen, though pretty darn good at the various cooking techniques.
i'd say science lab chef; the wife would suggest "what were you thinking?!" chef.