Searching for fresh, artisanal ingredients

12/14/11 | 10:00:00 AM

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Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world, and some just put a smile on our face. This is the latest in a series of posts about people who have used Google to discover or do something extraordinary. Have a story? Share it.

For a chef, a great dish starts with a solid foundation of fresh and unique ingredients. As part of Google’s Food Team, we’re tasked with serving about 50,000 healthy, creative and flavorful meals every day at nearly 100 cafes around the world. Our team thrives on the challenge of creating innovative new dishes, expanding our knowledge of what ingredients go well together, and satisfying our curiosity of where ingredients come from and the difference it makes in the quality of our food. We try to find ingredients that are as local, seasonal and organic as possible because when it’s fresh, it just tastes better.

Brett Ottolenghi, supplier of specialty ingredients to elite chefs in Las Vegas, has a similar philosophy. He is passionate about food, and he prides himself on finding the highest quality ingredients and being knowledgeable about what he supplies. I’m always thrilled to hear about people who share our passion for fresh ingredients, who’d go the extra mile to make sure what they get is the real thing.

One of Brett’s most recent discoveries was a wasabi farm in Japan. Realizing that the majority of wasabi in the United States is just horseradish that has been dyed green, Brett wanted to learn more about the real stuff. He searched on Google to find out more about fresh wasabi, and with the help of Translate, was able to read a site in Japanese about a local wasabi farm. He then contacted the family in Shizuoka, Japan who has been producing wasabi for 11 generations. During his trip to the wasabi farm in Japan, Brett learned the background of the condiment and how it’s fed oxygen and minerals from man-made waterfalls and got a taste of fresh wasabi -- and was able to bring it back to his chefs.



“It’s not as harsh as horseradish. It’s much sweeter,” said Brett. “That’s the reason it’s so important to travel and visit the producers because you can learn about the details in what they’re doing that makes their product so much better.”

With this knowledge, not only is Brett is able to provide his chefs with a unique ingredient, he provides a new experience with wasabi. “I don’t think my chefs would expect their supplier to know that much. Yuma’s family, their story adds to the flavor, it adds to the experience. You get into food because you’re passionate about it. As much as you learn, there’s still more to know.”