It is with sadness that I write this. I have come to realize that as an industry the profession of chef and culinarian is on a downward slope. Maybe I am being a bit over dramatic…
With the announcement of the closing of the 1913 room at the top of the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids the only 5 diamond Michigan will be losing its only 5 diamond eatery. Sadly, what they will be bringing in to replace it is yet another chain. For those who don’t actually cook for a living, what this means is they will be replacing professional cooks with cooks that have less training and most likely less ability. Chains are set up so that you don’t need someone who has perfected their craft in order to run a successful kitchen.
We see this a lot lately. Even in the midst of an eat local, buy local movement. People just don’t want the food that takes skill to prepare. I may be talking out of turn for other areas but in Michigan we face some of the hardest economic pressure the state has ever experienced. Of course, this does have an effect on the decision to close the restaurant but at the same time, we now lose yet another bastion that could be a draw to increase the tourism this state desperately needs to increase revenue.
I personally, am disenchanted with the growth of chains. Really, whats the point of traveling if the food you can get in one place is exactly the same as the food somewhere else.
Even with the growth of Craft Beer, especially in Michigan, too often we find that the places where beer is celebrated we find food that does not require the care of a craftsman. Even worse, we too often find that most places are not even willing to pay the price needed to employ true craftsmen. More often we run across places that are only willing to pay what it takes for a warm body that is willing to only use such gruesome devices as a microwave.
Another nail in the coffin is the power that the Food Network has brought into our lives. Foodies who subscribe to the schtick of such TV stations do not really know what craftsman really do. They don’t really know the effort that goes into making perfect food look easy and effortless. Its one thing to make a single meal. And something else entirely to make that same meal multiple times in a single evening exactly the same way every time, while cooking even more at the same time.
Maybe I am reading way too much into this, but at the same time, if what I am seeing is true, we may very well be in for a deluge of bland sameness worse than what we see with mass market beer.