Feast with the Too Fat Chef

By Kirstin Buick
17 September 2013

Albert Buitenhuis, also known as the Too Fat Chef, was in the news recently when he was almost deported from New Zealand because of his weight. He’ll be blogging for us about food that’s close to his heart – and it’s definitely not diet food! This week: aïoli, or French garlic mayonnaise.

Many of you have probably heard about the “fat chef” who weighs too much to unconditionally live in New Zealand. That’s me. I love lekker cooking, I earn a living with lekker cooking and I’d also like to do some lekker cooking with you.

First, quickly, the formalities: I was born in Pretoria on 15 January 1963. My weight, height and medical deficiencies by now are known across the globe thanks to hiccups with immigration authorities so I won’t bore you with that. I live and work as a chef in Christchurch and I’m married to dear Marthie. She and my customers in the restaurant will test-run all my culinary efforts before I share them with you in this blog.

People have asked, in light of my visa dilemma, why I am not focusing on more healthy dishes. It’s a good question but here’s the truth: Diet food isn’t me – and never will be me. I can supply you with loads of healthy recipes (all coming from other people) that might help you to shed some weight. But I can’t promise that it would give you much culinary happiness. Therefore I prefer to stick to food that matters to me.

The thing is I’m a big chap, I was born big, and I’ll probably stay on the big side – although it seems I might have to die slightly slimmer now. But I’m also a professional chef and I’m expected to produce food that will keep people coming back to our restaurant. If in the process cream or butter is consumed, that will have to be faced as a fact of life. My job is to get the lower part of people’s backs on seats in our restaurant.

There are two things about cookery that causes me pain in the lower part of my own back. One of them is diet food, and the other is fine dining. Those of us who call ourselves chefs are supposed to rustle up food in ways that cause others to do a little happy dance in excitement.

Let me explain to you what I mean: Imagine a square white plate with a dark skid mark (you’ve seen these in restaurants and on cooking shows, it’s actually a sauce with an unpronounceable name in chef speak) that runs diagonally across the plate. On top of the skid mark is a single slice of fillet steak, cut from between the ninth and 10th back ribs of a young 500-day-old ox. Around this are arranged four baby peas, three organically grown plum tomatoes, all drizzled with balsamic reduction and garnished with a touch of basil chiffonade (chef speak for chopped leaves).

Have I whet your appetite? No? Well, I didn’t whet mine either.

Such grand dishes might get others’ motors running, but my brakes engage at the sight of a skid mark on my plate. I can do fine dining and on occasion have had to for work, but that’s not me. I’d rather stick to what I love and I try to do that better than anyone else.

This week I’m sharing my secret aïoli recipe. Aïoli is chef speak for garlic mayonnaise and you can use it on almost everything. Make your next potato salad with it or serve it with braaied snoek. (You can also have it with hot slap chips, but let's rather keep that our little secret . . .)

 AÏOLI RECIPE

You’ll need

Garlic

1 large garlic bulb

a little canola oil for rubbing in

Mayonnaise

2 eggs

juice of one lemon (at least 30 ml – 2 T)

2 T (30 ml) wholegrain mustard

salt and pepper

1-2 t (5-10 ml) sugar

About 2 c (500 ml) canola oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

Garlic

1 The garlic holds the secret to this sauce. Put the bulb down on its side and cut it in half so the root end is on one side and the pointed end on the other. Don’t separate the cloves. Rub the oil on both sides, place them together again and wrap the garlic in foil. Bake 30-45 minutes. The moment the garlic is squishy soft, it’s ready.

TIP: It’s not a bad idea to bake a few bulbs at a time. They freeze well.

Mayonnaise

Sterlise a jar that holds 500-600 ml.

1. Pour the following into your food processor: eggs (shelled, of course), lemon juice, mustard, with a little salt, pepper and sugar (less rather than more of the latter – you can taste and adjust later).

2. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin – into the mixing bowl. Now you understand why you had to cut it in half.

3. Pulse the food processor until the eggs are well combined.

4. Turn the processor on high and start pouring the oil through the spout in a thin stream. If your processor doesn’t have a spout, you can add the oil a little at a time.

5. After you’ve added about 400 ml of the oil, stop and check the thickness of the aïoli. It should be starting to thicken now and you can decide when it’s to your liking. You’re aiming for a generous mayonnaise texture. Add the rest of the oil a little at a time until it’s the desired thickness.

6. Now it’s time to taste. Is the salt, sugar, tartness and pepper right? If not, adjust to your liking.

7. Decant into a sterilised jar and store in the frige. If possible, leave it until tomorrow – it improves with time. If by chance there’s still some around after two weeks (this seldom happens) toss it and make fresh.

 Variations

Mix the following with 1 c (250 ml) aïoli:

* 1 t (5 ml) wasabi paste for wasabi aïoli

* ½-1 t (2-5 ml) chilli flakes for chilli aïoli

* 2-3 t (10-15 ml) basil pesto for basil aioli (other pestos such as sundried tomato pesto works as well.)

Tip:

If you want to rather use raw garlic in your aïoli, feel free, but bear in mind it results in  a very strong garlicky taste.

I hope you get lots of compliments and that you will, of course, give me due credit.

Until next time.

Too Fat Chef

Note: t = teaspoon, T = tablespoon, c = cup

The Too Fat Chef, aka Albert Buitenhuis, works at a restaurant in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Kiwis queue up on the days he serves boerewors or sosaties. He would be so happy if you asked him questions about cooking and he promises to come back with a good reply. Take a look at his blog.

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