Wednesday, January 27, 2010 The World's Most Influential Chef The World's Most Influential Chef

Anthony Bourdain has called Henderson the “most influential chef in the world.” While most chefs make their name by fusing unlikely ingredients into new combinations, Henderson has done it by looking backward in time. He finds recipes for forgotten fish, birds, and animals, and the rejected organs and limbs of all of the above, and then presents them in the plainest, most direct manner: half a pig’s face, for example, staring up at you from a white dinner plate, daring you to cut a piece from its cheek and discover the other, more succulent bacon.

Henderson himself claims to have no interest in culinary adventure, insisting that he simply follows a personal ethos opposed to waste. Long haunted by visions of discarded animal “middles” — unwanted parts left lying in fields after the harvesting of the carcasses — Henderson says he’s come to feel that “it’s only polite, once you’ve knocked the animal on the head, to eat it all.” Beyond that, he’ll just say that his food draws inspiration from England’s rural past, and that he lets nature set the menu — oysters in January, game birds when the hunting begins. Henderson also sources most meat from sustainable, humanely operated family farms, but there, too, he disavows any revolutionary tendencies: “I just have this sort of hippie-dippie happy theory,” he tells me. “It starts with the animal, when it’s happy, and it skips into the slaughterhouse and knock! It goes, ‘Oh! I was happy,’ boof. And then we cook it happily and respectfully, and it comes to you, the diner, and you’re happy.”


Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

This is the one dish that does not change on
the menu at St. John. The marrowbone comes from a calf’s leg; ask
your butcher to keep some for you.


12 three-inch pieces of veal marrowbone

A healthy bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked from the stems

2 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 modest handful of capers
(extra-fine if possible)


Juice of 1 lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil

A pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A good supply of toast

Coarse sea salt

Put the marrowbone pieces in an ovenproof frying pan and place in a hot 450-degree oven. The roasting process should take about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bone. You are looking for the marrow to be loose and giving, but not melted away, which it will do if left too long.

Meanwhile, lightly chop your parsley, just enough to discipline it; mix it with the shallots and capers; and at the last moment, dress the salad.

Here is a dish that should not be completely seasoned before leaving the kitchen, rendering a last-minute seasoning unnecessary by the actual eater; this gives texture and uplift at the moment of eating. scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt. then a pinch of parsley salad on top of this and eat. Of course, once you have your pile of bones, salad, toast, an salt, it is diner’s choice.

Serves: 4

From The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, by Fergus Henderson


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