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March 19, 1998 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Local chef makes shrimp salad,

The M I P Cant W eeke g
Organic food grows on health-
and Earth-conscious consumers

shrimp cocktail, shrimp creole

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By Krri A. Murphy
Daily Arts Writer
Behind the swinging doors of Real
Seafood Company on Main Street, two
chefs and eight cooks work side by side
to make mouth-watering entrees. While
the grill sizzles and heat pours from the
oven, a resounding "Fire" commands
all to start cooking. Shouts of"86" sig-
nal to all that the chefs have run out of
ingredients for a dish.
Among these chefs is Michael,
McKellar, a Midland, Mich. native and
chef of 11 years. In his second year at
Real Seafood Company, he provided
insight into the world of culinary cre-
ativity.
"There are many aspects about being
a chef that I love," he said, while sitting
at a table during one of his rare breaks at
the restaurant - "the prep work, cook-
ing, paper work aspects and preparing
the meals." He credited his abilities as a
chef to having worked side by side with
certified master chef Roger Hough.
"Cooking was something that came
easy to me and that I did successfully,"
McKellar said.
Being a chef, he said, isn't all about

flying solo.
"It is very much a team thing.
Everyone has their positions,just like in
a baseball game," he said.
There is more involved than creating
the decorated dish that arrives at a
diner's table. McKellar said that aside
from his love of cooking, building a
team, cost control and recipe develop-
ment are important elements of being a
chef.
When asked about his favorite part of
being a chef, McKellar responded with-
out hesitation: "working with people.'
While his exposure to the front of the
house is limited, employee interaction
and teamwork are social aspects of the
job that he really enjoys.
McKellar worked in many country
clubs prior to working at Real Seafood,
and said they offered the opportunity to
work with familiar faces. He said he
doesn't regret leaving them, though he
said he could work at one again.
"I used to have a passion for working
at clubs, but they have become more
economically minded, so it's changed a
little," he said.
His reasons for working at and enjoy-

ing Real Seafood Company range from
his confidence in the management to
feeling more comfortable as a chef after
years of experience.
Whether working at a club or a
restaurant, being a chef isn't always
enjoyable. Long hours can be grueling,
and McKellar said he feels he does his
job better when working with a more
reasonable time schedule. "I don't enjoy
it as much or do as good a job;' he said
of long hours.
Currently he works 60 hours, being
one of the two executive chefs who
oversee the cooks.
All those hours spent preparing food
could make even the best of the food
connoisseurs fed up, so to speak. But
contrary to popular belief, dining out
still holds its appeal for some chefs and
even increases their appreciation for
fine food.
When asked how he differs from the
normal customer, he provided an inside
perspective to the thinking of chefs:
"I empathize with other restau-
rants' difficulties. Great chefs can be
very tolerant of what they're being
served; those with less experience
can be quick to criticize."
McKellar said it takes 10 years to
become an executive chef - "the
one responsible for overall kitchen
operation" - which gives some per-
spective to the time and effort that
goes into the art of fine cooking.
Cooks are chefs in training. His
advice to aspiring chefs is to go to
culinary school and learn firsthand,
on the job, from a famous chef.
He said he doesn't have a special-
ty, but loves the many aspects that go
into being a culinary artist.

Real Seafood Company's culinary staff stands behind its shrimp.

By Nicole Pearl
For the Daily
It's the '90s and eating healthy is all
the rage, but some regimens may be
more than trendy - organic foods are
increasingly finding their way to the
plates and palates of conscious con-
sumers.
Organic food is produced with "no
synthetic fertilizers or pesticides used,"
said Sharon Barbour, outreach and edu-
cation manager at the People's Food
Co-op, which sells organic foods
grown at local farms.
At present, there are no national
standards that determine what makes a
food organic. But this past December,
the United States Department of
Agriculture released proposed stan-
dards in response to a growing interest
in organic foods.
Eleven states have statewide stan-
dards defining organic foods, and a pri-
vate agency certifies Michigan's organ-
ic farms. To be considered organic, a
plot of land must have been free of
chemicals for three to five years,
Barbour said.
Many believe organic foods are
healthier than those produced using
pesticides.
"Pesticides are pretty clearly scien-
tifically linked to cancer," said RC
sophomore Pamela Jakiela, who eats
organic foods. "I don't want to get can-
cer, and I would rather eat healthy."
But Barbour said there has not been
enough research on the subject to be
sure.
"You can't quite say that and have it
backed up," she said.
Organic foods are more environmen-
Read
Daily Arts
with
breakfast,
lunch
and dinner.

"The organic
industry is
gr'owing at over
20 percent per
- Sharon Barbour
People's Food Co-op
tally friendly than goods grown using
pesticides and other chemicals. The
organic farmer's goal is to build up and
nurture the soil, which provides most
of the food's nourishment.
"Organic foods are cultivated in a
way that is much better for the land -
less destructive," Jakiela said. "Also,
organic farms tend to be smaller and
more diverse. I would like to support
that."
Barbour said organically grown pro-
duce can taste better than other produce
because farmers have "found ideal
varieties for their growing conditions."
Also, techniques have been fine-
tuned to minimize the visual difference
between foods grown with and without
chemicals is minimal, she said.
"It's come a long way," she said.
Jakiela agreed. "I like that organic
foods have more flavor than conven-
tional foods. They're much richer in
texture," she said. "You know those
tomatoes that when you cut into them
they're all watery - you would never
get that with an organic food."
One drawback of buying organic
foods, however, is cost. These tend to

be more expensive than conventionally
grown foods, but Jakiela said the price
difference depends on where con-
sumers shop.
"In Meijer's, (organic foods) are a lot
more expensive; at the People's Food
Co-op, they're a little bit more," she
said. "When you buy them from the
farmer, they're really not more expen-
sive at all."
People such as Larry Grant, who
runs the city's Farmer's Market, have a
lot to consider when deciding whether
to grow organic foods. Born and raised
in Ann Arbor, Grant's father founded
his farm. While some farmers at the
market grow organic foods, his own
farm uses commercial fertilizers and
insect sprays, though Grant said "the
specific application of the materials
ensures the quality and safety of the
foods."
Going organic is a risk for farmers
because shoppers tend to buy whatever
looks picture-perfect. Organic apples
may look less shiny and red than ones
grown with chemicals.
But Grant said there is a new natural
substance, called noni, that could pro-
vide organic farmers with some com-
petition by providing similar purifying
results. Available in the United States
within the past two years, noni is a
juice from Tahitian trees. Taking one to
two ounces of it daily can eliminate all
the toxins in the bloodstream, he said.
But for now, organic products have
an increasingly important corner on the
market of health foods.
"The organic industry is growing at
over 20 percent per year," Barbour said.
"It's booming."

LSA Junior Carina Signori sho
Where to buy'1
~ Arbor Farms Natural F
48103. 996-8111.
~ Community Farm of An
ing address). 994-9136..
V People's Food Coopers
994.974.
~ Whole Foods Market
971-3366.

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