Part 4 of 5
As a master spice blender, Lior Lev Sercarz works closely with chefs from around the world developing custom blends for restaurants including: Daniel, Le Bernardin, Zahav, Momofuko Ssam Bar, Kawi, Del Posto, Marc Forgione, Blackbird, Oleana, and Michael Mina.
Lior also works closely with food manufacturers creating specialty food products for consumers. For Le Bon Magot, Lior provides several custom spice blends that are used in our Spiced Raisin Marmalata, Sour Cherry Pomegranate Conserve and Lemon-Sultana Marmalata. [Link the three products.]
“Our professional chefs and business customers, like Le Bon Magot, understand that it’s pointless to buy low-cost spices that lack flavor or character and then use a lot of them. You might as well buy more expensive spices at a better quality; you will simply use less to create the flavors you desire. You’re basically paying the same thing,” explains Lior. “It might mean a little bit of an initial investment, but your return on that investment is a more flavorful finished product and customer satisfaction. You can deliver great flavor without excess and fuss.”
“I want everyone to think of spices as an ingredient that is as important as your protein and your produce. You cannot invest in those and then neglect the spice component. The same way you would not want to neglect your packaging. All components of your dish or finished product have to be thought of within a certain budget you have in mind,” adds Lior.
When businesses invest in quality spices, they generate quality results for customers and often discover they can simplify a lot of recipes and preparations with the right seasoning. Also, when they recognize that it pays to work with certain professionals for certain tasks, they can generate even better results.
“If you have a steakhouse, you are not raising your cows. There’s a farmer that raises them, there’s a butcher that butchers them. You focus on preparing the best possible steak. Even blending spices in house, which could be great if you know what you are doing, isn’t always the best solution because it requires very trained staff and that’s an added cost,” points out Lior. “So if you can find the best possible source for spices, spice blends and prepared foods, then you should use them. It doesn’t take anything away from your creativity or the end result. On the contrary, you’re probably getting something that’s superior.”
According to Lior, the simple act of blending, scaling, toasting and grinding spices is not too complicated. What is complicated is how you put the spices together. It is like creating a dish. Not everybody has that sensitivity or the time.
“I like to invite our professional customers to take part in the process - giving ideas, tasting and smelling. So they understand what goes into spice blending the same way they understand their winemaker or their cheese maker. When our customers go behind the scenes and see what we are doing, they understand we can deliver the products the best possible way because that’s what we do on a daily basis. We blend spice. We don’t do any other things, so we can be very focused.”
At the same time, Lior and his staff are always learning from their customers, how they can best support them. “When we provide products to Le Bon Magot, our role is to provide the best spices and most consistent blends in the most efficient way so that Naomi Mobed can make her beautiful products without having to be distracted from her craft,” says Lior.
“At the end of the day, it’s pointless if I just make my products and hope for the best,” says Lior. “I am making them, but someone else is using them. Whether it’s a home cook or a professional, they are equally respected.”