Thursday, October 16, 2014

Iron Chef meets Michelin Star Chef

Last night in Toronto Iron Chef, Food Network personality and Montreal restauranteur Chef Chuck Hughes,  hosted a sit down interview with 3 Star Michelin Star French Chef Alain Ducasse at George Brown College in Downtown Toronto.

These two men couldn't be more different.  Chuck Hughes is a fun loving and friendly, laid back kind of guy who loves seafood, tattoos and the Montreal Canadians.  Chef Alain Ducasse likes "drinking water, eating small amounts of food and would be an architect or world traveller"  if he wasn't a chef.  He said he feels like he is doing all three with the design of his newest restaurant in England.

Chuck Hughes likes to have fun and is constantly cracking jokes and making silly mug faces for all the selfies people line up to take with him.

The polar opposite of Chef Ducasse who doesn't seem to get Chuck's jokes and doesn't seem very fond of the selfie.

 Most people in the audience who were comprised of George Brown Culinary students, media people and food industry types.  They laughed at Chuck's jokes and listened intently while Chef Ducasse answered Chuck's questions in French and then translated to English by an interpreter.

While they look different, eat different and have a different sense of humour, the one thing they have in common is the love of food and trying to cook local food as much as possible.

Chef Ducasse does not serve any meat in his restaurants, I don't think Chef Hughes will ever do that, but they both believe in serving sustainable fish.  Chuck loves all things seafood and won his Iron Chef title cooking up some Lobster Poutine.   When Chef Ducasse was asked what his last meal would be he responded by saying "a piece of Red Mullet fish cooked with little fat or salt" ' I would need a fisherman and not a chef".

The other culinary connection both chefs have in common are vegetables.  They both believe in cooking the best local, organic, sustainable vegetables simply.  While Chef Ducasse adds with little fat, sugar or salt.  Chef Hughes is all about flavour so I don't think he is there yet.

Chef Ducasse coined the term "GLOCAL"  Global and local food.  That is what he is trying to do in the restaurants he has in 9 different cities.  He works with the area that the restaurant is located to cater to a local food scene instead of trying to convert the locals to imported products.

When asked if Chef Ducasse would open a restaurant in Canada he replied "too much competition".

He also spoke about restaurants stating, "The restaurant is not an anonymous place. It is what it is of the people that work there."

When asked about the future of food and restaurants he said "Nature will provide you with the ingredients and you need to use your expertise to prepare them simply".

That's a philosophy that will change the future of sustainability of food in the world.

After the sit down chat everyone moved into the atrium area where there was wine and cheese set up for attendees.  But this was no little cheese board set up.  It was the most elaborate cheese table I have ever seen in my life.

 If you were lactose intolerant this wasn't the place for you, but if you are like me and live for cheese then it was heaven on 2 rectangle catering tables.  I don't know where the cheese came from but it was hundreds of dollars worth of high quality cheese.  I piled my small plate high with cheese and grabbed a couple of slices of the delicious bread supplied by fellow French Chef bakery Petite Thuet.   A Whole table of assorted loaves of bread.  Probably the thing I eat the most is bread and cheese.  That stems from my mother's French heritage where it was an everyday food to have bread and cheese.  That cheese spread was my dinner.   My friend and I were so focused on trying all the amazing cheeses that by the time we got into the book signing lineup we were at the back of the line.  It ended up being not such a bad thing because we got photos of Chef Hughes, Chef Ducasse and George Brown College's own Chef Higgins after most of the people had already left.

I picked up a copy of Ducasse's book NATURE that I will peruse later today.

While I believe Chef Ducasse has the right idea about sustainability and eating less and eating less fat, sugar and salt, I think it's a hard sell for a lot of people.  For me the fat and sugar are the toughest ones.  I have already been reducing my salt intake for a while.  I am not ready to give up meat yet either but I know that it's not a sustainable product but I am enjoying it while I can because I know things will change in the future.

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