Canned Cuisine...mayo, ketchup, Gravy Master at Jean-Georges, Bouley, etc...
I never understand why we show a lack of respect for things like jarred mayonnaise and ketchup, while cheerfully buying baskets full of jarred curry pastes, sri racha, kim chi, nuoc mam and -gasp!- prepared mustard.
Perhaps we think that the prepared items in our own cultures (whatever they might be) are less exotic and therefore less relevant to good food. Some are very good. Some are abysmal. Some are bad because of the way that they are used (ketchup bathing everything, for example). I think prepared foods, in the best sense, can be thought of in the same way that our grandmother's preserves can be - something someone else doesn't have the time to make (and a preparation that sometimes preserves otherwise ephemeral flavors, but that's not the case with mayo :)).
I think we can all be good consumers of prepared products. If we are good consumers of fresh products, we're already most of the way there.
(btw, fauchon - couldn't read the articles; hope I am responding to the correct gist!)
i've worked for several james beard award-winning chefs, and you better believe there are big gallon jugs of hellman's and heinz ketchup in-house. professional cooking is very compressed by time and things like mayo and ketchup are unnecessarily time-intensive to be constantly making them from scratch.
one sauce for meat involved coca-cola and ketchup (and about 10 other things) and was one of our best sellers.
This is a very long & detailed article but here are a few snippets: The sauce for Bouley's $21 Hawaiian yellowtail appetizer begins with a base of Heinz ketchup...Jean-Georges Vongerichten's fried shrimp has a sauce made from Hellmann's mayonnaise and condensed milk...In Seattle Tom Douglas makes crab cakes, with what he calls "cheap white bread"...
In part, the article says, the use of supermarket items is thought to be rebellion against the Alice Waters school....Also, chefs in France use many "ordinary" ingredients as well...
I thought a lot of these ideas sounded interesting & very applicable to home cooking...I love the idea of not being so snobbish (one of my own tendencies that could use some correction--LOL)