The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

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June 1, 2013

COOKING WITH SIMON: Food as art

As many of you know I was born in England and immigrated to New Zealand as a child. I was never much of a student when it came to math, science and the usual things.

Instead I would get in trouble with the teachers for staring out the window and being a bit of a dreamer.

All that dreaming led to many things I never would have imagined like becoming a chef, moving to America, growing a vineyard – and the list continues. Many years ago when I was a training chef in New Zealand my first job was in a large hotel and it was my responsibility to cook breakfast for the hotel guests and later in the morning set up the lunch buffet.

The food needed to look appetizing and get everyone’s taste buds going.

That also was a time when decorated food and elaborate platters and dishes were a big priority.

As you can see by the ham photo, all those decorated buffet tables became an exercise in creativity and led me to the Hotelympia catering competition in London.

There my dreams came to life as I represented New Zealand and our team had one hour to carefully craft a series of lamb, duck and pate dishes that displayed perfect presentation and technique.

Fast forward several years and plates have changed a bit, as you can see with the steak photo, but one thing remains the same, the plate will always be my masterpiece.

Today’s recipe is a simple baked ham. I don’t expect you to weave a basket out of spaghetti, fill it with baby vegetables and place it on a potato shelf, but instead cook a wonderful meal and enjoy the art of the plate.

BAKED HAM

Ingredients

1 - 5-to-7 pound fully cooked or ready to eat ham

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Whole cloves

Decorate with pineapple rings studded with cherries

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