Sunday, April 1, 2012

American Cuisine Today

American Cuisine Today

Chef Robert N. Corey, B.A., A.O.S., C.E.C.

An Introduction to American Cuisine Today

Chef Robert N. Corey, B.A., A.O.S., C.E.C.

Spring 2012

“Revolution & Evolution’

The sheer size of our country, the multitude of cultures within our borders and the breadth of products we produce make qualifying a ‘definitive American food culture’ extremely difficult.  Perhaps that difficulty actually defines us.  We are a conglomerate of Food Cultures, a Culture of Cultures.  America is geographically diverse, topographically challenged, immigrantic, 50-stated and food opinionated! 

America is ethnic and global.  We are what we eat, eats as Michael pollan has stated.  Our roots are European, mostly Spanish and English and, now, Asian.  Our oldest restaurants are standard European in design and cuisine.  Yet, we are more than restaurants.  We are street food and Farmer’s Markets and Food Trucks.  European food is the blending of flavors and Asian cuisines are the street parties in our mouths. 

The great ethnic food cultures of the biggest immigrant cities in America are in LA, NYC, Chicago and Miami.  Great food happens here but it can be found in the smallest hamlets and villages in the country, too.  Travel to the upper Midwest lake communities and to smoky valleys of Appalachia where there are cultural food offerings on every table.  the same is true on the beaches of Puritan Cape Cod to the Navajo hogans of our native Americans.  It is all so bloody good, unique and real.  Travel the country and taste it from street vendors to michelin freaks – all the while looking over your fork at someone who hopefully understands and appreciates it as much as you do.  Smile.  Sometimes food experiences can be like seeing the sunrise for the very first time. 

‘I hear America cookin’

It’s coming round again

There’s Pork and Corn a growin’

From Kidz to Women and Men.’

-Betty Fussell, ‘I Hear America Cooking’.

 We are cooking on the precipice of a new dawn.  The Revolution of American Gastronomy.  The cuisine in America is like her history – it involves freedom.  The freedom of expression.  The freedom to be creative.  The freedom to break boundaries.  The Statue of Liberty, a.k.a. ‘The New Colossus’, stands in New York Harbor and has beckoned, since 1886, with the words of Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

We Americans are a multi-cultural epic and ethnic collaboration of all the world’s people.  Diversity reigns in America.  Thus, our food follows suit.  In spite of this grand arrangement, the cuisine in restaurants must still impart a connection – a connection to the land, the spirit of its immigration, of the culture and of the season.  food must always taste good, make sense, and sate us in a visceral and physical manner.  We must cook to make people happy.

There are four Evolutions in the Revolution of American Gastronomy, and undoubtedly there are more to come.  In order to get where we are today, however, Chefs in America (and not always American chefs) had to join the movement to the past – the return to the land.  The objective was to find and source the best ingredients and if you couldn’t find them to find someone who would grow them.  The purely American Cuisine began by cooking those indigenous American products well while breaking the ties to European traditions of cookery.  Getting away, bit by bit, from the ‘classics’ brought new freedoms which allowed American Chefs to affect International Cuisine, as well.  Now the world comes to America to cook…

American Cuisine today is about bounty.  The bounty from our gardens.  Here lies another evolution in American cooking.  From Farmer’s Markets in Long Island to farms in the Carolinas, to Mid-western corn behemoths and fertile California valleys, American Chefs are clamoring for local, organic and sustainable products.  We are embracing cooking with the seasons and we are revolting against animal proteins inoculated and modified.

And, glory be!  we are learning to cook again.  A lost art that began to slip away in the 50’s, has found resurgence.  Cooks and Chefs are entertainment Kings and Queens!  Who will lead us into the middle of the century?  An American?  European?  Asian?  Whoever leads us it will still be an Evolution of American Cuisine.  In America, we are that Evolution, chefs who are the proverbial mixed, melting, conglomerate pot that is the American Dream.

In American Cuisine Today we shall explore the American landscape, find its gastronomic pulse, taste the culture-of-the-moment and dive into the ocean of the American palate – one great restaurant at a time.  We will be creating Spring Tasting Menus from the minds of the country’s best Chefs and from Dining Rooms across the land, from sea to shining sea.

We Americans may be defined by who our natural or adopted parents (family or country) might be.  More specifically we are defined by how we were raised and what events or rituals shaped our memories, and by what defined by our food preferences.  What we eat can be who we are, or what we wish to be.

‘Pioneers in American Cuisine’

The First New Age (The 70’s) – ‘The Classical Period’:

Jean-Louis Palladin

Alice Waters

Robert Mondavi

Julia Child

Graham Kerr

Madeline Kamman

James Beard

Waverly Root

Craig Clairborne


Closer To Home (The 80’s) – ‘The Regional American’ Influence:

Paul Prudhomme

Dean Fearing

mark Miller

Wolfgang Puck

Jasper White

Larry Forgione

Jonathan Waxman

John Folse

Jeremiah Tower

Bradley Ogden

The Big Explosion (The 90’s) – ‘The Contemporary Period’ (Also known as ‘The Las Vegas Period’):

Thomas Keller

Alfred Portale

Charlie Trotter

Charlie palmer

Daniel Boulud

Norman Van Aken

Eric Ripert

Gary Danko

Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Rick Tramonto

Todd English

David Burke

The Food Network

Alfred Portale

New Chefs, New Issues (21st C.) – ‘The Cutting Edge Period’:

Slow Food

The Green Movement

Seasonal, Sustainable, Local and Organic Food

Grant Achatz

Nathan Myrvold, Chris Young and maxime Bilet

Food Trucks

David Chang

Daniel Humm

George Mendes

Wiley Dufresne

Joel Salatin (Polyface farms, VA)

Dan Barber

Bryan Voltaggio

Michael Ciramusti

JB Prince


Linda Runyon (

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