There is something telling about
what a chef prepares when he is only cooking for himself. For Frederic
Morineau, executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, it is traditional French food his
mother used to make: beef tongue, lamb brain, kidney. But his wife, from Ecuador,
won’t eat these traditional French dishes.“Growing up, my parents came from a
modest family,” says Morineau. “You buy whatever is cheapest to feed your
family.“When you live away from your
country, cooking your mother’s food reminds you of your childhood.”
Another simple French dish for
dinner is eggs, cooked sunny side up with a slice of tomato or an omelet with
diced salty apples, sliced onion, cooked in butter.
Originally from a small city in
France, Morineau started a two-year cooking apprenticeship when he was 16 years
old. Cooking was a family tradition. His grandfather was a chef and his mother
worked in a family pastry shop. But at 16, he was trying out different things
like being a radio disc jockey.
“The truth is I was not very good in
school. My uncle recommended it. I thought it was good, because there was no
homework,” he says.
But to have more opportunities as a
chef it was important to learn English. At 18, his father and uncle encouraged
him to leave his family to take another apprenticeship in London. He really
didn’t want to leave his family or France.
When he moved to England, he started
cooking for a top chef in London who became a mentor and father figure to the
young Morineau. And while he had already been apprentice for two years, it was
London that he discovered his passion for cooking. Morineau doesn’t see the
irony in finding his calling after leaving France, where preparing a fine meal
is like breathing oxygen.
“I love food. It is part of the French
culture. But you can’t just make food in 15 minutes,” explains Morineau.
Cooking takes time, says Morineau. It
starts long before you enter the kitchen. It starts when you wake up in the morning
and go to the market in the morning and select the right products.
At the market, Morineau selects the
protein first such as beef or seafood. Then he selects vegetables to go with
it, preferring produce that is in season. By 10.30am, the cook is home and that
gives an hour a half to prepare lunch.
Today, this French attitude toward food
is gaining momentum in the US, it is called slow cooking, says Morineau.
About this dish: Tuna is very popular
in the Caribbean and this is a simple recipe that makes a great starter.
Recommended wine: Polz Sauvignon Blanc
has a nice sharp edge that compliments the saltiness with the tuna.
by Chef Frederic Morineau at the Ritz-Carlton
oz. blue fin tuna
tb extra virgin olive oil
ts bowfin caviar
tb wasabi mayonnaise
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
blue fin tuna. Brunoise (cut into cubes) shallots. Slice chives. In a stainless
steel bowl, mix the tuna, shallots, chives and olive oil, toss them gently and
season with sea salt and pepper.
the mixture in a two inch stainless ring and mold it. Place it on a plate. Mix
mayonnaise with wasabi to taste. Drizzle the wasabi mayonnaise around the tuna
mix. Garnish with the shoestring potatoes, micro watercress and caviar. Serves