Ppins explore their own fast food nation | AspenTimes.com

Ppins explore their own fast food nation

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN I wanted to ask Jacques and Claudine Ppin if they ever read Eric Schlossers Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal, but I couldnt get through the crowd of eager seminar participants.The father-daughter team, each a world-renowned chef and television personality in his or her own right, had just finished assembling a delectable looking (again, the crush of fans prevented me from actually getting a taste) repast over the course of 42 minutes, at one of the earliest demonstrations at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, titled Fast Food Our Way.Jacques, in addition to being an incredible chef, is actually interested in fast food, but fast food his way, said Food & Wine Magazine Editor Dana Cowin, referring to Ppins new book, Fast Food My Way.And with that, the Ppins were off, whipping up five dishes in less time than it takes mere mortals to find the frying pan and get it hot enough to melt the butter, all prepared from recipes that can be found in the book.They began with a chocolate souffl cake, using dark chocolate melted very carefully in a microwave, a few eggs and other ingredients, which Claudine put into an oven to bake while her father got started on the next dish, shrimp and scallop pillows, which led to a cheese and salmon appetizers topped with sliced cucumber and pressed caviar, a bed of seasoned whole lettuce leaves on which to place the pillows, and a quartet of quail browned in a frying pan to round out the meal.Oh, and of course there was a little champagne to keep the chef happy, which Claudine opened in what she termed the traditional French way after unclasping the wire basket, she knocked the top of the bottle off, cork and all, with a huge carving knife.She assured the audience that the pressure within the bottle kept glass shards from ending up in ones flute, while Jacques had a suggestion for the audience member who snatched the cork-and-bottleneck when it landed nearby, after Claudine made cautionary statements about how sharp the bottlenecks edge might be.Heres what you do, you put the cage back on and twist it, so it stays inside, he said in his trademark accented English. Thats what I put on my Christmas tree.The crowd laughed appreciatively while Claudine shook her head in exasperation.Throughout the process, which took place in part of the Grande Ballroom at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, the pair kept up a constant reparte.They sparred over which ingredients should be used first, what kind of serving platter to use for which dish, how much time to leave certain dishes on high heat, and other details. It was the usual banter that happens whenever talented cooks share a relatively close kitchen environment, although at a much higher plane.They also took questions from the audience, such as a query about an ingredient in the shrimp and scallops pillows.Audience: Did you say you used baking powder…?Claudine: The recipe says baking soda.Audience: But the book calls for corn starch.Claudine (with a quick, somewhat apologetic smile): Oh, thats what we used.As they finished the various dishes, the food was lined up and garnished. The souffl cake was sweetened with a fruit based sauce, the appetizers surrounded with diced cucumber, red onion and capers, and so on.Meanwhile, as Howard Cosell used to say about sporting events, the crowd went wild every now and then, either laughing at the antics of the two chefs or murmuring as the succulent aromas wafted through the room.And then it was over. As the crowd surged toward the demonstration kitchen, the Ppins stood fast and greeted all comers, answering questions, greeting old friends and sipping champagne contentedly.By the way, the cooking time was three minutes quicker than scheduled, which allowed Brian Maynard of the KitchenAid corporation, a sponsor of the Classic, to get in a quick plug for the Cook For The Cure effort to raise money to cure breast cancer. He said the effort had raised some $400,000 at Food & Wine Classics over the years, and then auctioned off a lime-green KitchenAid mixer that looked as though it had come straight from a 70s-era suburban kitchen.The mixer brought $1,100 in about a half a dozen bids.As for the Fast Food Nation reference, forget I mentioned it, please.jcolson@aspentimes.com