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Thursday, November 02, 2006

inside 'Inside the Kitchen'

This is Roland Passot admiring -or pitying- Hubert Keller's balls.

Carrot balls!
Get your mind off the gutter, readers!

Yeah, I do admit that joke is perhaps a bit racier than usual around here, but let it be known that it wasn't mine. It's Roland himself making that comment about the size of his and Hubert's, um, carrot balls. I hate to take a side here, but I must admit Roland was right, Hubert's balls were conspicuously small. Ha ha.

The scene for this rather French joshing was the Grand Cru dinner last Saturday night at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. The premise of the dinner was a meal cooked by four chefs who have each been awarded four stars by the Chronicle. The dinner tab was $300 per head, and that included 'Grand Cru' wines, with a part of the proceeds going to support Meals on Wheels.

No, I don't have any picture from the dinner itself. What you think me so gauche I would pack a camera to a fancy dinner? Feh.

I was in the kitchen for a little bit during the afternoon prep, and the chefs were there in force, each doing their own thing with some help from the Ritz cooking team. It was quite neat to see Hubert Keller cooking the lamb himself, especially since, at a similar even earlier this year, I saw a certain Iron Chef cooking duck breasts by brushing some sort of marinade over them as a finishing touch (or was it a blessing) –everything else had been done and prepped by the minions even before said Iron Chef waltz into the lowly kitchen mere minutes before service. Nice to be famous (jealously she said).

Spending time in the kitchen was fun, especially watching all the components of the dishes being prepped without knowing what the final dishes would be. I saw Roland Passot working with the cutest little roasted pumpkins I've ever seen, adding to them carrot sticks and asparagus spears. It looked to be quite a vegetable focus dish, a healthy respite from the protein heavy dishes everyone else was preparing. Well, until I saw the amount of butter and cream he whisked into the sauce. You just have to love the French, don't you?

That afternoon reminded me of another day I spent observing in the kitchen at the Rarities Dinner at the Masters last year. I guess I really should tell that story soon too!

Meanwhile, more on the Grand Cru dinner extravaganza: Nitin has the low down and Amy has the menu.

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