Seeing Things Eye To Eye
My Kitchen Escapades With The Culinary Mad Scientist
This may hit a note for some of you food enthusiasts out there. For anyone who doesn’t possess a passion for creating food, here is an FYI. When you create food, it is like reaching deep inside and grabbing a handful of your inner-self and putting it on a plate for all to critique. But what if your number one critic has an impeccable palate, plenty of rudimentary and five star experience to more than back that palate, and enough culinary knowledge to fill a good sized edition of La Gastronomic?
You put your big girl panties on and start cooking.
My current culinary mentor is a swirling dervish with extreme soup making abilities. It begins in the walk in. He starts to fill his hotel pan with carefully selected “mis en plac.” Then the “rondo” becomes the center of his gravitational pull. He begins throwing and dumping ingredients at a mad man’s pace.
Next thing you know it’s a bubbling pot of something smelling delicious.
My critique is, I am more often than not, surprised at the mix of harmony and complexity. He makes GOOD food. He also has a piercingly clear opinion on how all food should look, taste, and smell. So when he and I discuss a recipe and concept, we bring differing contributions to the table. Off I go to begin constructing my version of our vision.
I am solid. I am by no means perfect, but my skills are solid. So I offer my first round for review. He never rushes his assessment, but also not a man to waste time. I usually am not surprised by what he might throw out there. I am braced and committed to the best dish I can possibly produce so I pay heed to my culinary mad scientist.
Part of my job is simply to produce. People will be coming to eat and I am here to produce. When I am left to finish a dish, I put out what I feel is a desirable menu choice. Then I wait. The bonus to working side by side with a “culinary mad scientist” is a constant state of learning. His approach is whimsical, practical, and multi-faceted all wrapped up in one punch. But the topic for this blog is curried carrot soup.
My version was a velvety, savory creation. A mild hint of curry and coconut milk with lemon grass lingering faintly in the background. The second day it ran at MELTZ the swirling dervish hit the soup and it became a seriously complex and intense character. I had the opportunity to sit and enjoy both soups and was treated to two entirely different gastronomical experiences.
One concept, one conversation, one set of ingredients, two chefs, and hopefully a whole lot satisfied customers. So I guess in the end, it’s not always about seeing things eye to eye.