"Creativity means not copying."
"Creativity means changing your mind every day."
-Ferran and Albert Adria

"Producing new dish is not really creativity is it? Is it is the intangible thoughts leading up to that dish that is the pure definition?"
-Grant Achatz, via twitter

Oh creativity, you fickle bitch.

Remember when you first started cooking? Experiencing those little creative bursts? A constant stream of incoming knowledge and inspiration, tumbling around in your head, and somehow manifested through something that you just had to cook--for family meal, or at home, or when your chef wasn't looking. Chances are that your dish sucked, but that feeling...translating your inspiration into something that you could experience with all the senses...that was fucking magic. And sometimes it was that feeling that helped you get through a hard spot.

I remember seeing the Michel Bras Essential Cuisine cookbook for the first time. I had seen the French Laundry cookbook, and it was amazing. But there was something about the photography, and the plating, and the peculiar approach to cuisine that Bras took. He wasn't just cooking--he was trying to give his guests a connection to the land his restaurant was on, to place terroir on the plate. I had never seen anything like it...so I immediately bought the book and cooked my way all the way through it. In the following weeks I had my nose glued to Art Culinaire, the Into the Fire episode at Trio, and food blogs and message boards. Data streamed in, and jumbled around, and food was made, and studied, and dissected. It was culinary puberty.

The goal was to learn everything. I wanted to understand every technique. And in reading all these books and menus, I was forced to go back and look at the classics to have a complete understanding of all this material. Getting to talk about all this inspiration with like minded cooks that shared my same passions only furthered the whole experience. The food we were making was good. Everyone benefited. And then we all went our seperate ways.

It was this seperation that first made me really question where creativity came from. Was it enough to just read a recipe, re-cook it, and try to put your spin on it? Did there need to be an inherent contribution to cuisine in order for someone to be creative? How important was it to try to be out front, to be doing something that no one else had attempted? Was this even possible?

Now that i've been immersed in Nopa for a year, I think that my opinions on creativity have changed. In our kitchen, creativity comes from inspiration, and tradition, and conversation. The same like mindedness leads to a natural progression of ideas and inspirations and practicality. I still look at the cookbooks, and eat out, and check menus and web sites, but at the end of the day, your ideas belong to you. And your creations, no matter how much you contributed to them, belong to the team and to the restaurant. And if all goes to plan, the day will come when all my opinions on creativity and inspiration change.

  • that may have been the worst ferry plaza trip ever.
  • this article talks about whether or not fine dining is relevant anymore. daniel patterson is in it, and it's awesome
  • adesso will change your life. best prosciutto ever, and it's make locally, from local pigs
  • i like to gamble on how many stars bauer will give
  • there is no such thing as medium rare to medium
  • watchmen. hurm.
  • thankyouthankyouthankyou ryan farr for the cichearrone. they were amazing
  • if i ever wear a leather jacket or have a ponytail, please make me stop
  • luis comes in with hot ass all the time. wtf luis, where do you meet all these girls?
  • verge winery gave me a bottle of wine because they use "notes" on their blog!
  • forming voltron. come in on a thursday at 6 and you might see it
  • ponder thought he saw snoop dogg eating a bread bowl at fisherman's wharf
  • eastbound and down is awesome
  • my twitter account went fucking banana's this week
  • i've got eggs and vegetables on the mind. a lot
  • damn it feels good to be off myspace and facebook

quotes and conversations, a little more adult edition.

Goose: It's called a fee-fee. You take a toilet paper roll, then you put a bag in it. And put lotion in it. And squeeze it. It's called a fee-fee.
Me: That sounds like more work than I want to do to jerk off.

Me: Your breast milk has a very strange color to it.
Merrell: It's all the ketchup I eat.

"I've seen your clothes Chris, and they are not going to go out of fashion for at least 2 weeks"

Eddie: I guess it all depends on whether or not she had an awesome personality.
Me: Isn't that always the case?
Eddie: No. No it's not!

Me: So when you guys bone down, does he slap your ass, or do you slap his?
Al and Merrell: Both!

Me: Paulie and Ponder have to vote on it.
Goose: Paulie don't count. Paulie hasn't had sex for four years.

Me: Hey Eddie? If my dick were made of cracker jacks, would you take it to a ball game?
Eddie: Yes.
Merrell: You could put a foam finger on it.

Me: Where's Al?
Merrell: I dunno. I bet he comes out with his hair all fucked up. Oh, there he is.

Me: You know why I think i'm cool? Cuz i'm a fuckin dork.
Goose: You know why I think i'm cool. Cuz i'm a fuckin idiot.

from top: adesso, adesso counter, angie, hanger steak, amy, chicharrone, dick beans, raab flowers, heart, black cod, shaolin finger, meatball warning, asparagus, guanciale, goose


Matt said...

i remember the moment that set me in motion to become a cook. it was also the first dish i had ever created from inspiration with the help of my youngest brother. I was about 6 or7, him about 3 or 4, mom and dad were away and we were feeling in the mood for food. So we decided to take a chicken breast we had the night before, mix mustard, ketchup, mayo, relish, butter, salt pepper, and some random vegetables. Once the chicken breast we tossed it in the frying pan, much to my mother's horror. We were busted. But out of all this chaos, Chicken Shit was borne.

Michael Walsh said...

What's so funny about creativity is that it is something intangable. You can't put your finger on it, or hold it, or call it your own and label it and put it in the walk-in. I've found myself knee deep in books, and blogs, and menus, and pics, then i switch it all off, and regergitate something I consider creative, yet 6 months later, i'll be leafing through a cookbook and see the exact dish I thought I was creative with! I had no intention to re-create something of someone else. Funny how things work out.

FGF said...

If you cook something halfway between rare and medium, what do you call it?

kirchartfour said...
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Richie said...

@Matt - chicken shit sounds awesome

@Michael - yeah, i've done that. like, entire weeks long periods, only to realize everything I cooked during that time was from some cookbook I had seen weeks earlier.

@FGF - Um, that would be medium rare, right? I'm saying that for me, medium rare is medium rare, medium is medium, etc. Im not going to fuck with my cooks and ask them to guess what the guest wants.. I will tell them to cook it one way or another, usually erring on the more done side.

@kirchartfour: i'm not sure you understand what we do at nopa.

Michael Walsh said...

When i go to hell, and there is no doubt at this point, and i get a job working the broiler at the steakhouse in hell there are gonna be only two steak temps.

medium rare- no pink


well done-with a little pink

That's it, eternal damnation.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Loved this. It applies to writing as well, there is nothing like that burst of creativity that just makes the juices flow. It's like a wordgasm :).

Hate that Inspirational Dysfunction, though.

Your comments are wicked funny.

Peace -Rene

kirchartfour said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

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Sarah said...

You have to respect something that can't be bought and sold; creativity, that is...

Your blogs rock---and I appreciate them. So thanks!

Happy green beer day, dude.


DCjosh said...

I'm not a cook, but I love to eat. What I am good at is forming Voltron.

I'll rock that right arm formation like no other. You let me know if your green lion doesn't show up. I'll own that thing!

Love your stuff.

Scott Sebastian said...

It's often refered to as MR+ and if you can't figure that out get out from in front of the broiler.

Richie said...

@Michael Walsh - Last night was "I want it rare, oh shit, it's actually rare!" night.

@Kaylee, @Sarah, DC Josh - Thanks!

@Scott - That would be a medium, friend.

Ben said...

"Creativity means not copying."

I have to disagree with Ferran on this one. Nearly everything is derivative. Even his incredible cooking.

great blog!

kane said...

mid rare to mid...that shows about as much intelligence on the customers part as gluten free pasta with alfredo sauce! unless you cook in a combi oven or sous vide...good luck...


thanks for the inspiration

Scott Sebastian said...

You yungen's still can't figure out the intricacies of cooking steak. There is a gap between a true MR and a true Md. It's called MR+. I've been ordering it that way for years. Even the hacks around here comprende.

Scott Sebastian said...

P.S. We all know a sentence followed by "my friend" really means "ass hole".

You don't have to print that but it's true don't you think? Not that I'm an ass hole, but the "my friend" part. (Ok, maybe the ass hole part too)

Dani_jde said...

My husband advises that while it seems like a lot of work you would be wise to remember the fee-fee practice should you ever wind up in prison. :o)