Peter Prescott on Fermentation in the Professional Kitchen
Throughout my 25+ years owning and running various restaurants, I’ve worked closely with a great many leading chefs, from Michelin-starred haute cuisine disciples to cerebral Japanese sushi masters. Almost without exception, the pre-occupation of these culinary wizards has been the desire to source the freshest ingredients for their kitchens. And, over recent years, with more and more chefs seeking out direct links to small scale specialist growers, this objective has been magnified.
Some chefs are now themselves sprouting their own green fingers. Alongside this recent movement, I’ve also noticed that there is a growing trend amongst more enlightened chefs to feature fermented and pickled ingredients within their recipes and on their menus. These are ancient preserving techniques that are now being remastered with the aim to maximise flavour and introduce new taste profiles.
The world’s leading restaurants are now establishing specialist fermentation operations and dressing their restaurants with large glass jars brim-full of pickled vegetables, fruits and berries, amongst other things. Noma in Copenhagen, for many years the world's best restaurant, recently said that every dish on every menu over more than one year had featured at least one fermented or pickled ingredient.
I’m sure this caught the attention of many chefs and has been a catalyst for change. It’s also the case that the more innovative chefs spearheading the culinary world are now exploring a wider remit of tastes, looking beyond savoury and sweet, and now embracing bitter, sour, spicy and umami, not to mention complex spices. Cultjar embraces all of this, combining freshness, preservation techniques and new ideas to create something delicious in a jar.