Thomas Keller's Cullinary Smarts

People often ask me what I do with Verjus. They are familiar with Maggie Beer's Verjuice but still don't quite know where or how to use it.

I always tell them I use it over a roast chicken or vegetables, just to give a little zest to the pan juices, or as a simple salad dressing with a splash of olive oil.

But recently I saw an article in The Age by the noted American Chef, Thomas Keller, where he mentions verjus (and vinegar) as some of the most important seasonings a chef can draw on in the kitchen.

Recipes often tell you to season with salt or salt and pepper, but almost never see the instruction "season with vinegar", yet vinegar (or citrus or any acidic liquid, such as verjus) can be an important way to markedly enhance the impact of a dish.

It's always worth considering whether a few drops of vinegar could be added to a soup, sauce or braising liquid to make the flavours really jump out. You don't want to taste the vinegar, only to feel it's effects. It's an important seasoning tool.

Thomas Keller has a number of noted American restaurants, the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, and Per Se in New York . These are high end restaurants celebrating produce, regionality and season. The food flavours are refined and the work to prepare each dish considerable.

He also has a chain of more casual French style bistros, called Bouchon where the flavours are more robust and hearty. Across his empire, he employs a staff of 1000.

He was recently in Australia to cook a series of dinners to raise money for charity with Melbourne’s fabulous Ben Shewry from Attica and Neil Perry from Rockpool.