A great question that I find myself asking is, where and how do I get inspired by food? I think you can find inspiration from something as simple as just eating. I find myself asking questions about what I am eating and what and how I can re-make that, and in some cases, what would make it better, all the time. To me the best part of eating a meal is thinking about recreating the dish. Mentally breaking down a delicious meal gets the creative juices flowing and that leads to inspiration.
I think my love of cooking comes from my Mom and my Grandpa. Growing up eating great meals cooked by my Mom and her letting me help out in the kitchen when I was growing up. To this day one of my favorite things to do is cook up a big dinner with her. One of my favorite holiday’s is Thanksgiving just because of the fact that I know get to cook a nice meal with her. We always come up with some creative things to try and are always pushing recipes further to see what we can do with some of our favorites. My Grandpa is also a great inspiration for me, he is always tinkering with bread recipes and has one of the best spaghetti sauce recipes I have ever had. The best part is that it is a secret family recipe, but it is still fun to play around with it to see if there is anything you can do to make it a little better. Without these two people in my life I don’t think I would be the cook that I am today! And for that I am forever grateful.
There is something about eating a meal and enjoying it, but still thinking about how else you can use the ingredients and what else that ingredient would be good in.
I have found myself doing this a lot lately when teaching and helping in classes. I love how when working with food that you find yourself not just blindly following a recipe but actually breaking that recipe down and thinking about what the final dish is going to taste like in the end. And then when you start doing that the next step is to start thinking about how making some small changes to it make it even better. It could be something as simple as adding some roasted garlic or a splash of Worcestershire sauce. It is amazing when you start playing around with what you’re cooking how much your eye’s will be opened up to being more creative with you are cooking. Most of the chef’s and friends that I have that love to cook, look at a recipe as a starting point to a good dish and add to it to make it an extraordinary dish. But be prepared, it doesn’t always work out. In some cases the original one is already amazing or your first attempt at changing it will be a failure. This is part of the learning process and what makes it fun. Failure is part of the job.
There are even some unlikely sources to find inspiration such as a movie. How many of you, like me, watched and loved the Disney movie “Ratatouille” and wanted to recreate the ratatouille from it. Then there are some of the amazing dishes that are created in the movie “Chef”. So many of the recipes in that movie look so amazing and flavorful. It is said that we eat with our eyes first and just seeing someone cooking in a movie or a documentary can give you a spark or an idea to try that you never thought of.
This is why I love cooking! Almost anything or anybody can inspire you to try something a slightly different way that will make your life that much easier or make your dish that much better. It is fascinating to see a mind at work when hit with inspiration or an idea. Even when the results may not work or be what you were expecting. The most important part of this all is to learn from your mistakes and keep trying to reach the point of perfection.