People ask me all the time how I come up with my dishes. I wish I could provide you with a simple formula. Like meat +starch +vegetable + complimentary sauce = fabulous dish. I can’t speak for other chefs, but for me, it simply does not work that way. In my case, it is a strange and wonderful thing that is continually happening in my mind. EVERYTHING I see, I wonder, “How would I cook you?”
It happens, of course, when I am at the grocery store (I drive my wife crazy!), I can’t walk by a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato without thinking, “I could grill this with olive oil and garlic. Deep fry it in a cornmeal batter and make a sandwich with garlic aioli and fresh mozzarella. Dice it with avocado, a little vinegar and sugar and serve it as a simple salad. And…” I think you get the picture. It simply doesn’t stop. It not only happens at the grocery store, it also happens at other places. For example, if after the grocery store I go to a car wash and see a hot sports car with great rims, that will trigger an idea about a new dish. The rims will remind me of the aforementioned heirloom tomatoes and I will think of a plating or a new way to serve them. Later in the kitchen, as I am creating this new dish, I will think, “Those beautiful rims… How would I cook them?” And then, well, a new dish is born.
Inspiration comes from everywhere. One simply needs to be open to it and ready to jump in and say, ” I am going to let this take me where it will…” Sometimes that is a magical place, where everything in the dish works beautifully and people are raving. And sometimes, well, it just falls flat and you need to go back think about the dish some more. That is also a key component in growing as a cook. One must be ready to fail. It is through our failures that we achieve our greatest triumphs. Trust in the food and your passion and you can’t go wrong.
So, go out. Walk through a Farmer’s Market and listen. The food WILL speak to you. One just needs to be ready to hear it.
Now, I must go. There are Lobster Mushrooms in the walk-in that are SCREAMING to me.