As mentioned in a previous worst-post, as a b’day gift I was forced to attend a cooking seminar last weekend. I say ‘forced’ without the intention of holding a grudge against my better-half’s gift choice. It’s just that I’m already a damn fine cook so my initial reaction to such a gift must be a bit apprehensive. The combination of being a skeptic, a cynic and a self-aggrandising cook means that I have to suck-it-up like a buttercup when my wife gives me a b’day present. Then there’s the issue that if you’re gonna attend a steak cooking “seminar” hosted by a company that specialises in selling premium meat, which includes a four course meal, well, how much was this gonna cost? With that in mind, dear worst-reader, I rarely go out to eat anymore because I’m not only stingy but:
- Based on service and food quality, money paid to a restaurant is stupid money and I hate stupid money.
- Since being able to afford fine dinning in this life, I can count on one hand how many restaurants have impressed me in the past ten years.
(Seriously. One of the best places I’ve ever eaten was on Phi-Phi Island, Thailand. It was literally a shack where three lady-boys cooked and served the best fusion asian food I’ve ever eaten and it all only costs a few bucks. But I digress.)
I told my better half that she’s not really giving me a gift but instead lining the pockets of guy who thinks he knows beef. And then I said, “Schnooki, the problem is the guy giving the seminar is German.” There was a long pause. Trust me, dear worst-reader, when I say Germans don’t know beef. It’s über true. Of course, it’s not that they don’t eat beef. They do. It’s that, until recently, they have been clueless about even the simplest form of bovine consumption. If you don’t believe me then the next time your in the old country and get tired of driving your rental car a gazillion miles per hour on the Autobahn, go into any grocery store. There you’ll find that Germans still offer two cuts of beef. One is called the Rumpsteak and the other is called Huftsteak. Unless you’re trained to tell the difference, there is no difference in these two cuts of meat. These “steaks” are then usually cooked in a pan with some kind of grease and then served with potatoes and, if you’re lucky, garlic butter. It’s no wonder that Germans have a certain reputation in the world–that doesn’t include culinary prowess. Luckily, even at my bitter-old-age, I’m open to moments of entertainment that potentially could include subpar cooking. What the hell.
In order to protect the innocent I’m gonna refer to the company behind our recent steak cooking seminar as White Man Steak & Co.’s Evening of Red & Juicy or WSCERJ. The seminar itself takes place in the fancy foyer of an old, converted textile warehouse. This foyer can be changed into a kitchen by moving modular ovens, grills, stove-tops, etc. Because of the size of the foyer, though, the number of participants is limited to about twenty people. The seminar is already fully booked through most of 2017. So it was nice to find out that my better-half actually started planning my b’day present almost a half year in advance. This place is definitely fancy-fancy.
A small company, WSCERJ has about thirty or so employees that handle all the typical corporate krapp and a small staff of culinary experts that include two chefs, a sous chef, two butchers and a “food designer”. According to the owner, though, they were short staffed for this particular evening. That meant that the owner and his young daughter were our servers for the four course meal that integrated with the seminar. Later we learned that two of the people attending were also from a German industry magazine and were there to do a review. Needless to say, the owner was at the top of this game.
After a short tour of the facility that included offices, backrooms full of supplies and industrial refrigerators full of hanging beef, pork and chicken (see pic above), the owner of the company continued with a long-winded monologue about the greatness of product that only he is able to offer the German meat market. The key to his success, he claims, is the fact that he personally knows all his meat suppliers. Of the seven cuts of meat that were being featured and were also strewn out in front of us, four came from Germany and three from God-knows-where Nebraska. The absurdity of a sales-pitch combined with the frivolity of overpriced ingredients that were about to be cooked up in front of us was only matched by bullsh*t galore. Luckily the BS was quickly accompanied by food and plenty of drink.
The four courses meal was:
- Beef Short Rib
- A typical creamy dessert not worth mentioning.
Beyond the fact that tartar shouldn’t be made from a bull’s rump, the first course was ruined by too much sauce and too much salad accompaniment. The only thing that saved it was the canned caviar that topped it off. In fact, I ate all the fish eggs but left most of the tartar and rest behind. I also kept it to myself that I could make better tartar by buying some half decent hamburger meat at the grocery store and throwing a raw egg yolk on it accompanied by some white pepper. It’s just wrong, nomatter who the bull is, to use rump for tartar. The second course was sous vide pork belly that was briefly grilled just before serving which made the upper layer of fat nice and crispy. Not a bad dish but, to me, it isn’t the right thing to follow tartar. The beef short rib was ok, but that’s about it. Forget the dessert. Seriously. Forget it.
Which brings me to the reason for this post. Or have I succeeded in fooling you that I’m trying to write a review? Nomatter. It was between the 2nd and 3rd course of the meal that the real seminar took place. As I said, there were seven different cuts of meat on the counter when we arrived. The rump was cut into large pieces by the two chefs and then given to those who volunteered to turn it into tartar with knives and cutting boards. What a mistake, eh! The tartar sucked. Two other “aged” steaks were then cooked and served as appetiser finger food in a glass of beef broth and butter. It was awful. A third cut of meat was not actually beef but instead two pork steaks. The owner went into an extended diatribe about how pork is the new steak–as long as you buy it from him and his supplier. The owner then added that he wanted to offer capon chicken (see pic) in the mix but none of his birds were ready yet. The remaining four cuts of meat, all of which were from Rex and his über ranch in God-knows-where Nebraska, were the crème de la crème of the evening. There were two lean cuts of Bison, one thick Wagyu t-bone and one thick Kobe. All of these meats were cooked in pans on a stove using fat and butter and then sliced up and given to the seminar participants for taste testing. The pork was awful and should accompany the dessert in the bin. I didn’t get any of the Wagyu t-bone, but I assume it was good. The Bison was fantastic–and it is the only meat I plan on ordering from this company. And, just before the sous chef started cooking the Kobe, I asked if he would cut me a thin, sashimi style slice so that I could try it raw. He did and I consumed it and it was good.
But here’s the thing.
While explaining the ins and outs of the best beef in the world coming from a supplier in God-knows-where Nebraska (probably) named Rex, that he obviously enjoys visiting and fraternising with, the owner of WSCERJ seems to have gotten naively mixed up with some American style white-supremacy BS a’la Faux Newz. How do I know this? Well, for starters, the American Indians that died because of the greed European mentality that was conquering North America (at the time) didn’t die from starvation.
That’s right, dear worst-reader. During a seminar about how to consume beef, most of which comes from my beloved (and missed) grand united mistakes of #americant, a full grown family man who is running a vibrant and flourishing business in Germany, actually believes–because of what he has been told–that American Indians died from starvation and not from genocide. It was at this point I raised my hand, put down my drink, and interrupted the host of his seminar. I gayly told him and the audience that I was more than happy to eventually purchase some of his product but he should refrain from making comments about things he heard from some white guy in God-knows-where Nebraska. There was a brief silence in the room. Then the owner of WSCERJ commented about the movie Dances With Wolves and I marched off to the bathroom to gather myself.
Upon returning to the foyer and the seminar, I was met at the entry by the sous chef. He was a young bull of a man from what used to be the former East Germany. I joked with him during the evening that he should be a linebacker and play American football. He smiled and obviously approved of my flattery. But before I could re-enter the seminar we had the following discourse:
Sous-chef: Tell me, do you like Donald Trump?
Moi: He’s ok. A bit over-rated both in the good and the bad. But ok.
Sous-chef: I think he’s much better than Hillary. You know Germany has a female president…
Moi: Chancellor, you mean.
Sous-chef: Yes. Whatever. You see how she let in so many migrants? Not good. That’s why I like Trump. He’s right, you know.
Moi: Ah, yeah, sure. As long as he doesn’t go on some crazy war path like George W. Bush, he might be alright.
Sous-chef: Exactly. Trump good. (He drags his knuckles returning to his place in the foyer-kitchen.)
And so. Dear worst-reader. There you have it. The world is amassing and mobilising knuckle draggers from all over and in all corners. I’m faced with them in the heart of prosperous middle Germania and God-knows-where… else.