Recipe for disaster

Fancy yourself an amateur chef and ardent follower of food trends?

Leave out the crucial ingredient - common sense - and you could find yourself literally burning with passion for gourmet cooking.

Last week, the London Fire Brigade cited amateur cooks attempting to recreate celebrity-endorsed recipes for "posh chips" or triple-cooked French fries as a possible reason behind a 14 per cent spike in the number of chip pan fires between 2012 and last year in London.

I always thought "posh chips" involved a decadent drizzling of truffle oil.

Apparently, I was wrong. You have to cook them thrice to elevate them to the gourmet category.

While blaming celebrity chefs for a surge in cooking-related fires sounds a little far-fetched, the way I see it, you don't have to worry about clogged arteries and heart attacks if you attempt to make your own triple-cooked fries - you might be burned to death before you even get to taste them.

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail highlighted British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's recipe for triple-cooked fries as an example of dangerous chip recipes.

This came barely two weeks after he made headlines for the temporary closure of his London restaurant Dinner, after diners were hit with a stomach bug, norovirus.

In a bizarre move, the Daily Mail published Blumenthal's full recipe for triple-cooked chips at the end of its cautionary tale.

The recipe involves parboiling the chips before deep-frying them twice, and freezing them in between the deep-frying.

Deep-frying twice is not a new technique to achieve optimum crispness. But cooking chips thrice seems to be unnecessarily tedious.

A Daily Mail reader made an insightful comment online - that there is little chance of food poisoning when you cook the chips three times.

He could be right.

Now, I have nothing against Blumenthal, who is known for his cutting-edge, experimental and innovative style of cooking.

His brilliance and wizardry in cooking is undisputed, if not controversial - in an October 2012 interview with The Guardian, he talked about placing a tampon in his mouth to allow it to soak up juices. A palate-cleansing pad, you could call it.

To be fair, it's not right to toss the blame on chefs like Blumenthal.

After all, those who wish to follow any experimental style of cooking should apply logic and discretion when replicating recipes like his.

It's one thing to stick a harmless tampon in your mouth, another to handle hot boiling oil on a stove top.

That said, be it innovation or entertainment, celebrity chefs do have a duty to caution the public on the potential dangers of techniques they introduce.

Blind devotees

But there will always be those who pursue food trends blindly without considering potential health hazards.

Take the craze over the sous vide method of cooking.

I find it baffling why many rave over a technique which, in layman terms, is boiling food in a sealed plastic bag.

And don't get me started on the fad of using liquid nitrogen, a freezing agent, in cooking and cocktail-making.

In 2012, a British teenager had to have part of her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail made with liquid nitrogen.

What happened to good old-fashioned cooking?

Give me honest, plebeian but safe fare any time and save the smoke and mirrors for the theatre.


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