Friday, July 13, 2007

The World's Newest Celebrity Chef

The biggest little chef in America right now is Remy, the rat hero/gourmand/celebrity chef in Disney's new movie Ratatouille:If you haven't seen this endearing and funny flick about the world of haute cuisine and the notion that "anyone can cook," not only do I recommend it, but just about every movie critic and food critic in America does as well.

If you have made it out to the theater for Ratatouille, you know that Remy achieves his celebrity chef status by getting back to basics and cooking a traditional French vegetable stew--ratatouille--for France's toughest food critic (the "bad guy"). One bite of the dish, featuring summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes and onions (although there are many varying recipes) transports the evil critic back to his childhood, when his mother prepared ratatouille for him as a comfort food.

Tomatoes, one of the ingredients Remy uses in his preparation of the ratatouille that makes him famous, is my comfort food. Is there any food ingrained in your memories- a comfort food- that can transport you back to a time and place?

Remy the rat's knack for cooking stems from his heightened sense of taste and appreciation for premium foods (I also happen to think Remy would love UGLYRIPES! Or bite sized grape tomatoes- the perfect size for him). I also happen to see a similarity between Remy and our UGLYRIPE: You have to taste it to believe it.

No one wanted to eat gourmet food prepared by a rat. In fact, the notion was unthinkable. But one bite of Remy's creations and the only thing that mattered to his patrons (and critics) was taste. Similarly, you can't always judge a tomato by its appearance. One bite of an UGLYRIPE and you'll know that taste is all that matters in choosing a tomato. The common thread is flavor--everything else goes out the window.

I'll leave you with a recent ratatouille recipe--inspired by the movie--published by the Associated Press.

And finally, here are some other blogs and articles that have been inspired to talk ratatouille recipes after seeing the movie (many which are much simpler than the movie's version of the recipe):

Glittering Muse
: "I LOVE the dish ratatouille. It’s one of the first things I learned to make. What’s great about it is its flexibility. Once you have any combination of the basic ingredients you can do just about any proportions and it turns out nicely. Lots of room for creativity, which I love."

Kalyn's Kitchen: "Maybe the movie Ratatouille will get kids to like vegetables again. I know that when we walked out of the theater, my nephew Ethan asked me "What did the rat cook for the bad man?""

USA Today: "Chef Emeril Lagasse treated comedian Patton Oswalt — who voices the star of the upcoming film Ratatouille— to a heaping helping of actual ratatouille on his Food Network show, Emeril Live! Here's the recipe..."

Will Work For Food: "Ratatouille is being called one of the best movies of the year. I totally agree. As posted before, the crew and animators were trained to cook by Thomas Keller, meaning they ate well and were taught by one of the best. But did it pay off? Were the animated cooking scenes authentic and realistic enough?"

Ruhlman's Blog: "Last weekend Chef Pardus called me to say if I didn’t take my kids that very weekend to Ratatouille, I was a loser. This from the same guy who called me a wuss because I didn’t want to drive 30 miles through a blizzard to make a bechamel sauce. I tend to listen to him. He said, “Ratatouille gets it, it totally gets chef culture.” The reason for his delight is first that chef culture is important to him and second that it’s almost never gotten right."

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