What excites epicurean the most other than the food itself? The answer would probably be… the masters! For me seeing those culinary masters is (maybe) like a basketball addict meets Michael Jordan, or informatic enginering meets Bill Gates. The vivid eyes, the overwhelming sensation, the admiration, the hunger for food knowledge, you name it and it’s all there.
Last Friday, I got a chance to see Chef Mario Batali Cooking Theater at the Jakarta Culinary Festival 2012 event, held at Jakarta Theater. Hosted by Indonesian Chef, Marinka and an opening cooking demo by chef Nooror S. Steppe from Thailand. She and her team cooked an authentic Thailand food and upgraded the look into a fancy five star dish.
At the begining it was rather confusing as the chefs (chef Marinka, Chef Nooror and one of her assistant) babling about lots of things. The Thai restaurant she have, the cooking class, the Thailand itself, the use of ingredients for our body, etc. Yet they forgotten the most important thing to do when you’re doing a cooking demo, that is to explain what they are doing step by step. Until one of the participants raised her hand and questioned whether we can get any explanation about what they are actually doing. Good thing someone reminded them to do so because afterwards, things started to run normally.
The show then moved to the main performance, that is a cooking theater by Mario Batali, an American chef specialized in Italian cuisine. Click here to look up his bio. Cooking theater is basically a series of cooking demo that consist several dishes by the chef continously.
The long awaited finally came, the one and only Mr. Mario Batali. He has, not only signature dish but also signature look. Ponytail and his orange crocs apparently become his trademark for quite sometimes. I like the fact that he is a humble celebrity chef and actually a funny guy.
In random order he cooked, Arrancine with Mascarpone and a Toasted Almond Ceci Salad, Fettuccine with Lobster alla Pantelleria, Scampi in a Fine Cornmeal Flour Crust with Sweet and Hot Chillies, Beef Braciole “Pinwheel Style”, Black Truffle Vinaigrette, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Grandma’s Pine Nut and Ricotta Tart Torta Della Nonna. These are those beauties.
Other than the food and the how-to, his words regarding food and cooking are what i remembered the most. These are some of them; Italian food is nothing but simplicity, a grandma’s recipe, something that has been passed generation by generation. He also urged us to go to the market and find the best five or six best ingredients then figure out what will we cook with the ingredients rather than to think of what you want to cook than go to the market to buy the ingredients (of course this can only occur when you cook for yourself or small amount of people). And the last word from him that really hit me is, spend more on good ingredients now or spend it later on your health (by this he mean hospital bills), because bad food definitely bad for your health. And i couldn’t agree more.
The cooking theater was so fancy. The venue hall filled with rows of Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino and also a bar of mojitos with real vodka i guess, as it’s sponsored by Elyx. I’m a moslem i didn’t take any. They also had a pizza booth for participants, the two chefs on a pizza booth seemed like having endless shift once the crowd getting thickened. While the ballroom (or since it is actually a cinema, so i might as well call it the theater) decorated with round tables, a bottle of Acqua Panna and if you drink, then they will actually fill your glass with wine. As im wearing hijab, the waitress didn’t even bother to offer me any, LOL.