What’s your food philosophy? Have you ever asked yourself that question? What does cooking mean to you? Does it evoke memories of childhood? Do you cook because of a special diet or is it simply one more thing you have to do at the end of the day? As for chefs food and cooking are a way of life. It’s a cultural connection that has placed countless numbers of chefs on a gastronomic journey for many years.
Now, I’ll share with you my food philosophy. It goes something like this– I want to taste the flavors, see the creativity, and feel the passion behind a prepared dish. It’s that simple. Cooking is done by nearly everyone but not everyone cooks with passion, precision, and a cultural connection to tradition. I don’t necessarily need or want to see a Picasso on the plate. There is a time and a place for artistic plating. Everyday food can benefit greatly from a little attention to plating before serving your friends and family. Some attention to detail can go a long way. It only takes a minute to situate a nice mound of pasta in a bowl or add a few croutons to top off your soup, etc. And you’ll begin to see some happy faces!
Some chefs spend too much time focused on eye appeal and not enough on the actual flavors. That’s where well-cooked food with a clean presentation takes the prize every time. When you cook try to drum up flavors and use cooking techniques that you can build upon and begin to create your own personal style. Even if it is a traditional dish such as pappardelle with a Bolognese sauce. This is a familiar dish. But, how can you make this well-known dish distinctively yours, even though it’s a classic Italian pasta dish?
Here’s a good place to start. Express yourself with the usage of herbs, wine, and browning of the meat in the cooking process. How much or how little you want to administer your delicate touch is entirely up to you. Maybe use sage in the sauce and forgo bay leaves and rosemary, Perhaps use a hearty red wine, and less tomato product. These are just a few quick examples that allow you to take hold of the steering wheel and carefully begin to express yourself in a recipe. Remember, it is easy to get carried away during the creative process. So, always remember that less is more! You will never reinvent the wheel but you will however invent your very own personal cooking style. And, that’s a good thing.
The more you stretch out from your cooking comfort zone the more recognizable your personal cooking style will become. Your “fingerprint” on a dish in this case is welcomed and something that will develop more and get better over time. When a chef can leave his well-experienced touch on everything that he/she cooks they have reached a high level of cooking. In order to reach this level, it takes talent, dedication, passion, and years of experience. So, trust the process and bring your skill level up to a boil slowly. Dedicating time to your cooking, trying different recipes (and not always the easy ones) will expand your pallet and your cooking horizons.
Food that is cooked by a chef who is at this “marquise level” can leave their personalized stamp on all dishes that come out of their kitchen. Even if they are cooking a classic coq au vin or a simple cherry tart. The undeniable style of the chef comes shining through with the use of classic techniques and personalized touches in preparing the dish.
Now let’s go back to the Bolognese sauce example. If a Bolognese sauce tastes pretty much like every other Bolognese sauce you ever had—you eat it, recognize that it’s good but nothing special and you’ll leave the restaurant content. Now, here is the flip side! If a Bolognese sauce that you ate has you saying months later “Oh my God, that was the best Bolognese sauce I ever had!” I don’t know how they did it! It was absolutely delicious, and it transcended me to the creative cooking process that must have taken place during the preparation. When you hear these kinds of remarks then you know you have tasted the visionary and creative genius side of a chef.
If cooking was a bullseye game then this chef nailed it dead center and takes home the winning prize!
I know many of you foodies can relate to what I’m saying here. If you enter the culinary arts profession from a passion-driven desire to learn how to cook and do it well, then the creation of your own artistic style is ultimately inevitable. In time, your own creative genius will come shining through. It will be considered your trademark. But remember, if you cook professionally or not developing your gastronomic prowess takes TIME.
Let your creativity and style incubate for as long as it takes for you to be able to reach the next cooking level. The incubation time for your artistry to mature has no set date and no set time as to when it will show up. Just keep cooking with your heart and keep challenging yourself. One day just as sure as you are reading this article it will show up. And, if you nurture it right it will show up in a big way!
Hear this, one thing that is certain for all of you going through a culinary enrichment process—rushing it will not make it happen!
Give it time and let it happen on its own organically. Your special cooking style will develop generically from your personal cooking experiences and from your daily devotion to always be willing to learn more. With passion and persistence pressing you forward, you’ll reach a delectable pinnacle in your cooking. And that’s a fact! Watching a pot come to a boil does not make the water boil any faster. Give yourself time and plenty of room to make mistakes. Eventually, you will begin to percolate with cooking knowledge, cook with a seasoned hand, and develop a style of your very own.