August 19, 2010

a rant

A note to all Asian-wannabe chefs.

Stop trying to recreate "authentic" Asian food. You will not win. You will by default whether you like it or not invite the comparisons between what you want $10 for and what you can get for $2 in Chinatown.

And you will lose.

It's as simple as that.

Why? Because the grandma/grandpa cooking in Chinatown with MSG, 40 years of practice and just pure skill is always going to be better than what your wannabe culinary school/FoodTV education/organic-hormone-free vision can churn out.

You know what will win? If you actually take some initiative and creativity (and it doesn't take much) and create SOMETHING NEW with those same ingredients. Then you know what? You'll have something people CAN'T get for $2 in Chinatown - then at least you'll have a chance.

It's telling that some of the most creative modern Asian food I've had is from food trucks. There guys are playing with flavours and managing to create magic (or at times, not) for under $4 a pop. I don't know what their food costs are, and I don't care. All I care about is getting f*cking tasty food at a decent value.

I don't care that you make your own tofu, or find and kill your own pig somewhere in Upstate New York, or stew your own hoison sauce. If it doesn't taste as good as that stuff I get from the cooler section at T&T (or 99 Ranch for the Americans) - then I'm very literally not buying.

Or maybe... just maybe... cook the same thing and actually make it genuinely TASTE better than what grandma is doing. But good luck with that. Maenam's the only place that can do it right, and that's because Angus has the skills of a Thai grandma with a classical French culinary education to back it up.

And no, this doesn't mean you start stealing recipes from David Chang or Jean-Georges.

Rant - done.