New Bedford Chef Henry Bousquet Answers the Question: "What's Fusion?"
When we were running our popular Chef Henry’s Fusion Night promotions monthly at Cobblestone I was often asked, “What is Fusion?”.
Fusion really is a reference to any blending of world cuisines. Different parts of the world have different styles and local influences that make up the way people eat and cook. The whole food experience is truly regional.
For instance, in Asia the major cash crop is rice due to the climate and what was a natural resource in the early part of the civilization’s birth. As a result rice is a staple of the diet there and along with it came, soy beans and fish from its rivers, and shorelines. These make up what we know as the Asian diet still even today.
Likewise in the Mediterranean, olive trees flourished, plants like tomatoes, citrus, beans and wheat were easily cultivated and therefore developed into the diet we recognize today consisting of pastas, olives, and olive oils, seafood on the coast and the infusion of simple sauces made from available seasonal produce.
France, birth place of the culinary movement, had domesticated animals it would utilize for food and often had to discover techniques to make that meal more palatable since work animals had a tendency to be tough and poorly flavored. The practice of raising animals solely for the purpose of consumption is fairly new in terms of human history and civilization. So as a result, sauce and flavor building became some of the trademarks of French cooking. Layering flavors through different cooking methods like braising, sautéing, stewing, and roasting became the standard in time used in wealthy households and later the restaurants. Stocks were also created to utilize the left over bones and undesirable trimmings. This flavorful liquid was and is used to create soups, sauces and consommés.
Fusion cooking is a natural evolution in the culinary field. It’s an offspring of the media explosion in our culture and the culinary development of the world economy. Chefs are often inspired by what they see and feel about a food at a particular time. Access to information has made it possible to explore different food cultures in your own kitchen/den with out getting on a plane and traveling around half the world. Most chefs can order just about anything they see on the internet through some kind of specialty distributor. This has resulted in the increase in experimentation with food and drink. Fusion happens when a cook makes a dish consisting of varied regional ingredients and uses techniques or off shoots of techniques to create new and unique dishes. Thus, Fusion Cuisine is born.
The south coast region of Massachusetts has been lucky to be home to the world’s premier distributor of specialty foods and ingredients. New Bedford’s own Sid Wainer and Son’s Specialty Produce and Specialty Foods has revolutionized the availability of fusion ingredients for both the home chef and industry professional. They support what I believe is the largest distribution network anywhere for these diverse ingredients. So if fusion cooking interests you, stop by their market on Purchase Street in New Bedford and get some wild ingredients to experiment with.
If you need help with technique or want to try your hand at learning more about food come visit me and take my night class at Greater New Bedford Voc Tech High School. Classes are Tuesdays from 6:30-9pm for a 9 week session. It’s only $165.00. Contact Rob Pimentel at 508-998-3321 and ask for night school registration.
Remember, your parents were wrong, it’s absolutely right to play with your food. I encourage it!
Henry is a New Bedford, Massachusetts native. He comes from a long line of city employees. He graduated from, St. Anthony Elementary, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School and then from Bristol Community College with an Associates Degree in Communications.
Henry is thirty-one years old and has two children. He and his wife Theresa (Tee) have been married for 6 years. They own a home in New Bedford. He has been working in restaurants most of his life. He’s owned Four Corners Breakfast on Nauset Street for two years and Cobblestone Restaurant in Downtown for the last four years. In addition to his Associates Degree Henry holds a Culinary Educator Certification and is a Culinary Instructor at GNB Voc Tech. He is also a student at Fitchburg State College earning his Baccalaureate Degree in Occupational Education.
Henry has always had a passion for public service. As a business owner Henry jumped right into the non-profit volunteerism scene donating time, gift certificates, and services. He was a Board member at Downtown New Bedford Incorporated, is a SMILES mentor and an active alumni at BCC. His passion for the city of New Bedford and its future is evident in the pieces he writes for publications like http://NewBedford360.com, the Weekly Compass and his occasional editorials in the Standard Times. He decision to leave the entrepreneurial world and enter education supports his commitment to family and the future of this city.
Henry Bousquet can be reached at: Hoek7@aol.com
Henry is a candidate for New Bedford Councilor at Large in the upcoming 2007 election. Henry's Camapign website is located at: http://www.henrybousquet.com.