Unlike their counterparts in some countries–Austria, China, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand–folks who turned cooking into a profession in the U.S. didn’t grow up with a set of rules or traditions that are culturally defined nor rigid. Daniel Boulud, the best French born chef in the U.S., told me that he thought that one factor behind the molecular cooking movement was that chefs didn’t have a specificity that they needed to follow in their food.
Stateside, you have a lot of kids who don’t do well in high school, tend to be either athletic and/or socially awkward, and find that the idea of more education isn’t possible. They might be good at sales. They might be good at repetitive, physical activity. They like money for work that’s immediate. They aren’t good at delaying gratification. They like to eat.
So they work as cooks and a few lucky ones, less than 1%, open their own restaurants or move up the ranks in already established places.
Not having much business sense, unaware typically of how money works except that they like to get paid in an hour or two for cooking, they form ties with business people who run the business.
The result is high-fat, sugary, salty foods that provide an immediate sense of pleasure. These dishes don’t create memories, but they certainly are great fun for an evening out.
But wait and see: I’ll wager that we’ll see a revival of classics, more vegetable options, and depth of flavor based on umami. Of course, until that happens, it’s gonna be offal.