The Proustian Effect of Confit Byaldi!
Ratatouille, the new animated movie from Pixar, about a rat that sneaks around a Paris bistro, adding spices and whatnot to bland dishes. The animators and producers spent a huge amount of time in restaurant kitchens, studying every aspect of a chef’s daily life. One of the consultants was Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. In addition, great effort was spent in getting details of food exactly right – colors, texture, etc. From The NY Times,
The team at Pixar, which is owned by Disney, worked with Mr. Keller and other chefs to create a menu for the restaurant. Michael Warch, manager of the film’s sets and layout department, also holds a culinary degree. He used the kitchens at the Pixar studios in the San Francisco Bay Area to recreate dishes for the animators to study.
Throughout the film, the characters work on dishes like steamed pike with butter, braised fennel and heirloom potatoes or grilled petit filet mignon with oxtail and baby onion ragout topped with truffled bordelaise and shaved Perigord truffle. The idea was to create food so authentic that people would leave the theater with an urge to cook and eat.
The chef’s handiwork is most evident in the final dish, the one on which the entire plot hangs. The dish is the movie’s namesake, and needs to be so special it will impress the restaurant critic.
Mr. Keller cooked a fancy layered version of ratatouille called confit byaldi. “We had to think about what would make the food transformed,” Mr. Keller said. “What would transport him back to his childhood in a Proustian sort of way.”
With the Pixar team recording his every move, Mr. Keller had a last-minute inspiration as he took a palette knife to the vegetables. “When I picked up a layer of the byaldi and it compacted, I realized at that moment how the dish would come together.” The solution was fanning the vegetables out accordion-style.
It opens June 29th.
Sir Loins says
I’m glad I got to try Mr. Shampine’s decadent burger before he was let go. But what the hell is up with the folks running the Deluxe? They need to have some confidence in the choices they make, and then settle down and give things a chance to work. As a regular patron of the Driftwood, I’m finding the constant changes unnerving; I’m sure the staff does too.
Pasta Bangs’s concept was sweet, but the food… not so good. The Delta — on a good night, when they’re not sending out raw chicken and rock-hard biscuits — has arguably better food, but service so consistently awful that my friends and I stopped going altogether. Can’t say it’ll be an improvement for the NE location.
I feel bad for Scott. Here is a guy who couldnt get his old boss to keep promises ( Olea ) and makes the switch to Gracies ( for more money, freedom ( the promise that he wont be the typical hotel food outlet )
That is the real problems with Hotels & Food & Beverage its a tough marriage. This is the reason many hotel groups ( Kimpton, marriott try to lease the food services areas on their properties to restauranteurs – as Gracies first tried to do. )
The problem is hoteliers relate room occupancy to % of capture in the restaurant outlet. They feel that if the Hotel is 85% occupied, you should get a 25% capture in the restaurants. This number never pans out. Yet they try to staff according to occupancy. So if the Hotel is dead – 20% or less inoccupancy then all the staffs ( cleaning, maintenance, food & beverage staff get cut – so income %$ and labor %$ equate.
Another problem is if you want a high end cutting edge menu with quality ingriedients ( farmer to table, Kobe Beef, lobsters ) you have to be supported by the top executives of the hotel group. The best examples of that are Ritz Carlton & The Four Seasons. To staff, stock, train , and the economic costs are huge ( benefits, uniform expense, 401-K costs – big dollars. ) As a hotelier you hope for a big banquet buisness to help offset a la carte service. Otherwise you loose money in F&B outlets and make money in rooms revenue. This is a stupid analagy because the rooms are set assets, you know how many you can sell ( cant make more in an hour ) I could go on for pages ( good thread )
Thats why in Portland there are few Hotel Operators who also “own” the restaurants that grace their hotels. Heathman / food by Jakes, Governor/ Food by Jakes, Hilton /corporate yuch – when was the last time you and your family went to the Hilton for breakfast? Riverplace/ 3 degrees / Lucere wanna be, could never pull it off. Avalon /Aquariva? nobody know how breakfast and lunch service is. ( dont forget room service ) Benson /London Grill is theirs, they get rent from El Gaucho.
I guess Scott will open his own restaurant ….great another new restaurant in Portland. Whether middle of the road pricing or not, too many new places opening up in PDX, how will we support them all?
I think part of the problem over at Gracies was going with an inexperience restauranteur. Who were they? The guy that runs Paddy’s? Not exactly a food destination in this town. (wiskey perhaps).
Pork Cop says
Amoureuse, Thanks for the Hotel/Restaurant education. I’ve never thought about a lot of that.(Insert ..NOT sarcastic emoticon) Who knows..maybe he’ll just move. He wouldn’t be the first good chef to get frustrated in Portland and move on.
Sir Loins says
amoureuse & Pork Policeman, I do wonder if it’s possible that Portland may be feeling the pinch of a restaurant bubble at some point.
For those un-Tivo’d folk, you can download the 9 minute preview from http://www.apple.com/trailers/disney/ratatouille/
And while Food Dude may see it, I’ll definitely see it.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
It’s actually a pretty good case study in urban economics – if using standard economic theories of supply and demand – the market will correct itself if there is not enough demand and restaurants will be feeling the pinch. However, the People’s Republic of Portland seems to defy standard economic explanations all the time, so all bets are off!
I however, am keeping my own private “doubt they will make it through the next two years” list.
There’s no shame in going to see Ratatouille. I’m going to see it! (I will bring my kid.) Brad Bird who did this also did The Incredibles and the underlooked (but beautiful 2D animated) The Iron Giant.
Flask Mama says
Um, I have two kids I rent out for cheap as props. Ya wanna work out a deal? hee hee.
Food Dude says
Allright.. peer pressure! I’m going to see it saturday.
Do yourself a favor: by-pass the multiplexes and go see “Ratatouille” at the Moreland Theater in Sellwood. Charming old-fashioned theater with seriously good popcorn!
I want to see it, but I will be waiting in line for an iPhone… BTW, the hotel restaurant business is pretty much exactly what amoureuse wrote. You must be in the business. Hospitality stinks.
I’ll second the Moreland Theater suggestion. And I think it’s only $4.75 if you go to the 5:30 showing! (Good for us “poor college students.”)
We went to the sneak preview show the week before last. As a food lover and animation fan I’m biased, but the film looked just beautiful (the hair and water effects, especially, not to mention the attention paid to the food and gorgeous kitchen), the story was nicely told, and the Proustian moment mentioned made me gasp and cry, no exaggeration. Go see it!
I held back tears at the Proustian moment (for all of you who don’t know Proust from zucchini, it involves involuntary memories) when the food critic….(ok I won’t spoil it). Food Dude are you the Anton Ego of Portland?
Ratatouille is a GREAT movie, bar none (including the non animated ones.) You will be subjected to a lot of previews of upcoming crap, which will make the experience of this (soon to be) classic film even better.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
I think we’ve spotted a new food trend in Portland – proustian dishes! First Alison Hallet from the Mercury writes about the Proust Cocktail served at Ten-01, then Matt Davis from the Mercury comments on his $8 dollar cocktails as:
Alas, poor Proust himself did not have much of an appetite due to his constant intestinal distress, other than his famous love for Madeleines.
As A.J. Liebling wrote about Proust:
Perhaps this Proustian effect can help explain the popularity of haute “childhood favorites” such as the lamb corndog (Rocket) and Bacon Tater Tots (Ten-01) that are so trendy right now?
I think I shall open up a private underground restaurant and name it after Proust. (Hebb, if you are reading this, It was my idea first).
shuna fish lydon says
Hey! I know that Scott Shampine person… should we offer him a spot in one of the classes as a consolation prize? heh.
Excellent idea Cuisine Bonne Femme, maybe name it Le Restaurant Retrouve, the Restaurant Rediscovered, after you know who, tried to kill it (not Voldemort…)
Food Dude says
Saw the movie. Very impressed. Lots of fun, even for adults, especially for those into food. Lots of inside jokes for those who have spent time in commercial kitchens. The only downside was the lady sitting behind me with her two kids. They talked loudly through most of the movie. Grrr.
I agree, this movie will fly over the heads of most children ( yes, the same ones you all insist on taking to restaurants.) Glad you liked it Anton…Good to get your…perspective on the film. ;) (Sorry FD after Ratatouille, I will always picture you as Anton, take it as a compliment, start affecting a british accent…)
Thanks to WellSeasoned and Hoss (and Food Dude, as always) for the recommendation – The Moreland is our new favorite spot, and a good launching point to investigate the local dining establishments. I took my little boy to see the movie there (first time there, and his first movie), and it was a great experience for both of us.
The movie was also excellent – From a parent and food lover’s perspective it is highly recommended. So many accurate details and humor spots to keep the adults engaged. And from a Paris addiction perspective, it made me really, really miss it.
Time to start digging through the archives here to find a little bit of the magic here, in Portland.
My nine year old and I both loved the movie – so much so that we’re now flash roasting vegetables at nine pm so she can make her own signature soup after a post-movie stop at Freddy’s…!
(yeah, yeah, yeah – I know we should have gone elsewhere, but what else can a crazed parent do at 7 pm on a Sunday night…?)
I love the Moreland, and it’s within walking distance, so when I realized this afternoon that Ratatouille (about which a chef friend had raved a couple of days ago) was showng there, I was SO there. It was delightful. A little slow in places, but it’s a kids’ movie, after all. The kitchen scenes and the dynamic among the staff are right on. Tony Bourdain is thanked in the credits, along with Thomas Keller. And apparently some Pixar people had to actually go to Paris for research purposes and eat at Taillevent, poor dears. Couldn’t help thinking, in the final scene, of Chez Panisse downstairs and Chez P. Cafe upstairs.