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Portrait Simon Majumdar

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1. Tesi: Dear Simon, you are a well-travelled and well know food critic. Some people say you are the food network’s toughest critic. Can you please tell me about you and your love for food?
 
Simon: Food has always been an obsession not only for me but for my entire family.  It was the centre of most conversations and was so much of a passion that, when I went through my darkest times, back in 2006, it was towards food that I turned for salvation. It is fair to say that without my love of food, I would probably not be here today.
2. Tesi: You have seen so many restaurants and reviewed so many chefs. Is it still possible to surprise you or have you just seen everything by now?
 
Simon: I most definitely have not seen everything by any means.  I have a mantra by which I live my life “Go Everywhere, Eat Everything” and following it means that I (and my wife) spend a significant part of our life on the road, both around the world and in my new home, The United States. We are always discovering new dishes, new techniques and new approaches to hospitality.
 
3. Tesi: What would you say is the most common mistake chef’s or restaurants do? 
 
Simon: I am a great believer in two phrases “keep it simple, stupid” and “sign the painting”.  The first is a reaction to many chefs forgetting the basic fact that their main aim is to feed people rather than get a round of applause for their plates.  I am far more of a fan of pure dishes prepared with great technique than I am of wanton creativity.  There is a place for it, of course, but I just want my dinner.
 
The second phrase is related and refers to the inability of many chefs to know when to stop.  I heard once (I may be attributing this incorrectly) that Daniel Boulud tells every chef to remove three ingredients from every recipe and I love that.  Chefs are often highly talented creative people and want to show everything they know on every plate.  Being able to know when to stop and “sign the painting” is a definite skill to be learned by many.
 
4. Tesi: The world’s most underrated cuisine is….
 
Simon: Filipino.  Before marrying a Filipino American, I had often dismissed the cuisine of this archipelago of 7,000 islands as consisting of nothing more than Pork, deep frying and the deep frying of pork.  I have learned over the last few years that it is so much more than that and is varied and delicious.  In fact the best meal of my life was arguably cooked by Filipino polymath, Claude Tayyag at his house in Pampanga. It totally changed my perception of the cuisine.
 
5. Tesi: Simon, What does good food mean to you?
 
Simon: Good food is not just about great ingredients and great technique, it is also about great people and great hospitality.  That includes the chefs, the servers and, of course dining companions.  Context plays a huge part in a great meal and I often think that a well prepared meal that is not shared is like singing in an empty room.  Food is meant to be shared.
 
Thank you
Matthias Tesi Baur
 
Web: www.simonmajumdar.com 

 

 

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