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There's another interesting angle in this, which is a demonstration of how important memory and emotion is in food. The restaurateur who had created Michelin Star-winning restaurants thought the standard Hellman's potato salad recipe was very good. Now, I'm not that much of a chef, and I'm not going to say it's a bad recipe, but a chef of that caliber ought to taste even a very-well prepared instance of that recipe and immediately come up with half-a-dozen ways to improve it. I could do that in my kitchen, which is really not that well stocked with that sort of thing. There's classes of improvements; use a more interesting vinegar, use a more interesting oil, use more interesting herbs, make your own mayonnaise, use different potatos, each of those representing half-a-dozen options on their own, to say nothing of the work you can do with combinations.

If you served the Hellman's recipe to a Michelin reviewer, you're not getting a star. And I'm sure that Danny Meyer would know that instantly, were he not influenced by his memories and emotions.

Also, to be clear, I am by no means being critical of him for bringing his emotion into the dish. If it's anything, it's a positive thing, in my opinion. I'm just showing this as a very clear example of how complicated reactions to food can be.




You are right about the role of emotion in the enjoyment of food, but I think you are actually underestimating its effect on the hypothetical food reviewer.

I think it actually is very possible to earn a Michelin Star serving a Hellman’s recipe. If the atmosphere is good, the service and presentation of the food high quality, and the overall experience classy, that potato salad is going to taste really good to even the most critical of food critics. They are susceptible to the emotional parts of the food experience just as much as anyone, and is in fact part of the review.


I’m sure Michelin Star chefs don’t always eat that quality of food. How would you ever be full? Beside there are always inspirations for fancy dishes dishes.

Trying to the remember the series but I watched something about the history of Creole/Cajun food with a focus on Shrimp Creole and PoBoys. They took the dish all the way from the early 1900s when it was made by workers to some relatively current dishes being prepared at fine dining places. The dish started as basically ketchup, fresh shrimp, and whatever vegetable scrapes avaiblable.

My point is there is usually some inspiration for a dish that is attached to emotions. Think the movie Ratatouille. You could do something similar with Potato salad.

I know you weren’t trying to be critical of the chef but it cerntainly feels like you are judging him.


I'm not convinced by this idea of "more interesting" ingredients. Sesame oil is interesting, but that it's certainly not a better choice for this purpose than a neutral oil of some sort. Sometimes plain white vinegar is the right flavor, even if others may have more personality. This is the attitude that gets us constant Romaine lettuce and microgreens, when the freshness of iceberg lettuce is one of life's great pleasures.

(I'll give you fresh-made mayonnaise — I can't think of a time I regretted that, except when it came time to do dishes.)




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