MORE STUFF! Camino's Russell Moore on Soul

The fire is a better master than the circulator.

October 22, 2015 ● 2 min read

[MORE STUFF! is home to all the little nuggets we stuffed in our pockets months or weeks or days ago because we liked the way they read, or looked, or sounded. It's kinda like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn since last winter.] 

I don't give a fuck how you cut the tape or clean your station or cut things into perfect squares.

I just don't care about those things. I want have a conversation about the world, or about art, or about politics, and also make food. It has to be a fun thing. I want interesting people around, but an array; not machines who just got their knife tattoo and cook. Then it’s not interesting.
Not everything has to be like Chez Panisse. I agree with that. I don't leave stuff as plain as I used to. When I was at Chez Panisse I was the plainest and the simplest. I wanted a soup that had nothing in it. Like oh my god, there's absolutely nothing in that! It's so great how there's nothing. But you need a little soul in your food, somehow. If you just wrap a piece of meat, set it in a water bath for x amount of time, then pick it up, peel the plastic off, throw it away into the landfill, and then burn it on your plancha—which used to just be a flat top—that's easy. But to take a piece of meat and temper it, at room temperature, when you're not sure if someone's going to order or not, and then cook it slowly by a fire until it's done, then let it rest the right amount of time, and slice it with the grains all going in a different way...that’s harder.

The people who are really good at cooking with fire are the ones who aren't by the book. They don't have to have it at a certain temperature, because the fire's changing and moving all the time. Some people have a macho way of grilling where everything's like burnt, hot, fire. It's totally not my thing. I want you to get the most out of that piece of food that you're cooking by the fire, however you need to do it. It doesn't even have to look like you grilled it. I don't care about grill marks. If that piece of fish would have to dry out slightly to get those grill marks, don't have grill marks. Cook the fish right.

I'm drawn to fire because you have to be present to observe and react to what's happening. So you don't even need to plan. You can't plan.

As told to Cassandra Landry | Photo of Moore by Yoko Takahashi