Gastronomy! It's too serious a matter to be left to the cooks.
This is why Biztronomy's Gastrodor or Golden Gastronomer project, rewards the greatest gastronomes, those whose verve, verbiage and passion transcend matter into stardust, preserving and disseminating for ages to come, long after humanity has evaporated, the mark of that cosmic apotheosis that is the table.
For the table, its refinement, its dishes, its conversations and the states of transcendence to which it is allowed to take us, is truly a galactic apogee, recently confirmed by a new scientific law to describe the evolution of complexity and to serve as a counterbalance to the overly dilapidating and lapidary laws of entropy.
But let's get back to our sheep and our navarins. In the Gastrodor approach, it's important to have several perspectives: that of the amphitryon, of course, and that of the guest, as well as that of the lady next to us at the table; these are the main witnesses, the ones who will feel transported by the delightful presence of this most inspiring of guests.
But we also need to sound out the opinions of those professionals in the culinary world, who, with their knowledge oscillating between craft and art, are in the front line when it comes to discerning those who know how to recognize effort.
So we decided to ask one of Toulouse's most renowned chefs for his opinion on the matter. We won't mention his name, because our mission, among others, is to overcome the Gastrolatrics. those who see only the matter and nothing of the spirit.
Over and above the purpose of the meeting, which was generously granted because it's a time for preparation, and this particular day didn't lend itself to it - a second mate who didn't show up, or the fish delivered that wasn't up to scratch, we won't know - the exchange was otherwise very rich.
Explaining Biztronomy's mission, our Michelin-starred chef concurred with the notion that education was essential. As a testament to this, he pointed out that "porc noir de Bigorre" loses some of its flavor when taken out of context. Admittedly, I thought, the waiter's explanation - or the narrator's, as some are now called - when presenting the dish is appreciated, but it's like subtitles at the opera: you lose some of the integrity of the experience. Perhaps we should think about preparing our mind for a meal in the same way as we would educate ourselves about an opera, before going to it.
The chef went on to evoke a dream, that of seeing his art taught in schools; not necessarily all the techniques and related knowledge, but enough to raise awareness of the quest for taste and the complexity of the gesture. I became enthusiastic, adding that I myself had high hopes of seeing the history of gastronomy taught, thinking of Vattel to illustrate the power struggles of Louis XIV, Carême to define diplomacy, notably at the Congress of Vienna, or Grimod to highlight the hinge between the Ancien Régime and the new republic of Gastronomes!
Asked how we could elevate this field to new heights for the world's gourmets, he reminded us that taste is a matter of education, which begins at the earliest age. He didn't seem to be convinced by the efforts of the Semaine du Goût (Taste Week), which he felt was losing momentum. And yet, as I'll explain in a forthcoming article on Étiquable, a chocolate tablet maker, taste is an essential vector for all initiatives linked to social and environmental improvement. A well-paid cocoa bean farmer will produce a good product while preserving the quality of his land! It's all about taste education!
Pedagogy was again the theme when we talked about an intervention he made for a local aircraft manufacturer. The 8 p.m. meal means you have to know how to work under tight deadlines: a hungry stomach grows teeth! How could this knowledge be transposed from the kitchen to maintenance teams? What ingredients did he use to federate his team towards flexibility while preserving quality?
What a melody to my ears! And therein lay Biztronomy's seminal ambition! Use gastronomy to illustrate business, be it P.I. with Nicolas Appert, organization with Auguste Escoffier or marketing with the 1900 Michelin Guide!
I couldn't help but be delighted to hear him go on and on, reinforcing the values of the Biztronomy team. But he didn't stop there, going on to talk about the values of gastronomy that could be passed on to companies. We didn't go into all of them, but I'm sure he'll be able to relate to some of the ones Biztronomy stands for. In short, I was ecstatic, perhaps more full and spellbound than if I'd eaten at his table. His words were enough for me.
We even managed to talk about the initial subject of our conversation, namely what qualities a renowned chef might expect from his customers. I won't hide my delight when I tell you that his answer was to be found in the "beta" version of our Gastrodor, disseminated in the criteria we had already identified. A la bonne heure, the quill and the chef's hat come together!
We won't go into detail here, leaving it up to you to discover these criteria, to submit new ones to us, or better still, a candidate for the title of Gastrodor!
However, there was one quality of the true gastronome that rose above the melee of our chef's richly instructive words, that of knowing how to offer, especially compliments. He had evoked this recurring pain with such gusto that I feel this is where we, modest gastronomic souls in perpetual progress, should start to become Gastrodor. He evoked, almost with amazement, certainly with incomprehension, those customers complimenting him, raving about him, congratulating him, thanking him and the team for the excellence, nay, the perfection of the evening, but concluding, as if a meal could never be too big, with a devastating "but". Like budding maestros, they proceeded to duly rapture all the evening's efforts, appropriating them in a final apotheosis of flimsy "buts".
If there's one lesson I've learned, it's that giving should never be conditional, whether it's a compliment or time. Part of the art of cooking is separating flavors so they don't drown in each other. To a large extent, sweet and savory are very much on their own. So, if we want to offer a compliment, let's do it without reservation. Recognition of a job well done nourishes the cook like no other food. Let's not spoil it with bad cooking or a pinch of salt. If we really want to make a point, let's become food critics!
Pictures by Dall.E, prompt "A lion king eating in a nice restaurant with a chef offering him a trophy, Cézanne style".