As chefs we know that we bear certain responsibilities to the diners in our establishment. It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that we are much more careful with the food we serve to our guests than we are with the foods we eat at home. There are a variety of reason for this, the foremost one being that we are committed to serving the highest quality, best tasting food that can be procured. Certainly we make the best choices that we can for our guests. We do not purchase 100% organic because that's not always feasible but we buy organic where we can. We buy local products when possible as long as they meet our standards for taste and flavor. The same goes for free range, naturally raised products. There are items that we have to have in stock because our guests demand them. Sometimes they just want Heinz ketchup or Pepsi or Fruity Pebbles. They want the real thing and not our spin on these products. It's not my job to force them to eat what I think is right for them. As a chef it's my job to give people what they want if it's reasonably within my powers.
The comments on the last post made me realize that I am bit out of the loop on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I've heard rumblings that it's a bad thing and that people should avoid it but somehow I missed the big picture. Perhaps it's because I don't drink soda or because I don't have children or because I don't cook with corn syrup, but the crux of the whole controversy passed me by. But when people take me to task for lack of knowledge I need to remedy the situation. So now I have another thing to educate myself about. As chefs people expect us to know about all of the hot food topics but if we kept up with everything and did our jobs, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day. We do the best that we can with what's available to us. When subjects come up we try to learn as much as we can and make educated choices. The food world has become something of a quagmire with differing opinions on the veracity of organics, the definition of sustainability and the meaning of free range and pasture fed. The right choices for each situation are murky and based upon personal assessments and vastly fluctuating levels of information.
A case in point would be Heinz's certified organic ketchup. This is what we keep in house for guests who cannot live without their ketchup. It's Heinz so it's coming from a big agri-business. It's certified organic so the plants were probably only treated with an approved list of chemicals but probably came from a large farm that does not practice sustainability in any way, shape or form. It does not contain HFCS although strangely, it tastes slightly sweeter than the regular ketchup. It is a better choice that still satisfies the customer who wants their familiar product even though it may be slightly different from the one they have at home. It's not a perfect solution but it's the best one we have for today. Tomorrow there may be a better solution. We just have to take it day by day.