canaan wrote:relevant: i ran into this "high-end cuisine" idea while watching el bulli the other day. they were trying to get the consistency of something right and they didnt care about the taste. paraphrasing "we'll worry about what it tastes like later". thought it was funny that this kitchen with like 6 or 7 trained chefs didnt care what the food tasted like at the time.
Ha! I just got that DVD last week and have been watching it with my foodie friends at the office.
Restaurants like elBulli represent a completely different world. They often invent entirely new ways of preparing and delivering food, and those methods need to be tested thoroughly. Before they invest time and effort into making something delicious, they need to know if the technique they have in mind will even yield results worth pursuing. Because it's surprisingly easy to make things delicious. The difficulty comes in making something unique. And that's where inspiration comes in.
Sometimes the new technique leads the way, sometimes it's a super rare ingredient that the kitchen has never seen before, sometimes (as with the ice vinaigrette Chef Castro created in that documentary) the inspiration comes from a cocktail enjoyed at a restaurant in Brazil months ago.
That's the great thing about inspiration; you never know if - or from where - it will emerge. But what really separates great cooks from merely very good ones is not skill or technique. It is an innate ability to draw inspiration from the mundane, to recognize possibilities. One of the all-time signature dishes at The French Laundry was born because Thomas Keller got an ice cream cone, and that particular day his mind was open to what that ice cream cone could deliver
other than frozen milk.
But the end point absolutely positively has to be delicious.... or, as Adrià says in the movie, 'magical'. Otherwise, you're a technician and not an artist. Technicians can work anywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to T.G.I. McFunster's down the way. But the best chefs, the visionaries, are most certainly artists.