One of THE great books of 2017, and sure to endure: Karen Page and photographer Andrew Dornenburg’s Kitchen Creativity: Unlocking Culinary Genius—with Wisdom, Inspiration, and Ideas from the World’s Most Creative Chefs.
That’s a tall order! And in this, their 11th book, they deliver. A couple of delightful quotes from the mountains of dazzling praise for Kitchen Creativity:
“Utter genius…If Leonardo da Vinci wrote a book on culinary creativity in 2017, this would be it.” — Michael Gelb, NY Times bestselling author of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci
“A delectable mix of sensuality, intellect, insight and surprise that reveals not only the secrets of creative chefs, but of creativity itself.” —MacArthur Fellow Robert Root-Bernstein and Michele Root-Bernstein, Authors, Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People.
She lays out creativity in 3 stages:
Kitchen Creativity pulls back the curtain on “a world of infinite culinary possibilities.” For the chef, it truly comes down to the basics: the quality of your ingredients, how you’re going to make your ingredients shine, and how you’re going to tell the story of your dish.
This is where I always feel that her books are so masterful and useful for a cook whether a beginner or expert. She piques our curiosity: Have you thought about this ingredient with that? But here she goes beyond heightening our knowledge and skills to cultivating our creativity— increasing our confidence, autonomy and leadership in our own kitchens. Did you know that “chef” means “chief” in French? Dear reader, you can be the chef/chief of your domain!
Lots of people think, I’m just not the creative type. But EVERYBODY has creativity. Whether you’re right- or left-brained, there’s an intuitive part of yourself that knows. You can be an accountant or coder and be incredibly creative. When you’re familiar with your world, there’s a way in which you can use your instincts to confidently move forward.
Karen says, It’s all been done before—you are not creating tomato sauce from scratch. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You’re just building and adding your mark to it.
Are you a zester? I have a friend who puts lemon zest in everything. Her middle name is Lemon Zest. What’s your middle name?
Karen talks about the culinary alchemy. There’s always a little bit of that je ne c’est quois, that somethin’ somethin.’ You allow alchemy to come in when you are confident enough in the kitchen to stray from the recipe. By all means, stray away!
A good way to go: you’ve got 2-3 recipes you’ve got nailed. You don’t have to look at the recipe anymore. You stray. You get away from the book. You ask, What if….? You start to rely on instinct, trusting your taste buds, not worrying about whether you are going to flub the dish. One day you just automatically reach for the orange or the rosemary… Or you don’t have this in the house so you use that. No cinnamon? What would it taste like with… cardamom? You make room for something new. Inspiration strikes! Wow. I would never have thought of that before. Something new comes out.
You get away from the day-to-day grind of getting food on the table. I know SO many home cooks who say I have nothing left. I’ve had to cook for my family for years and years, and just get it out on the table... I get it! But don’t underestimate the power of inspiration. It can lead to new creativity, success and joy in your kitchen. And inspiration is available with the change of every season. In the dead of winter, you walk into the store… the colors are green, orange, tan and red. The pomegranates catch your eye… you see their gleaming red seeds as a garnish. Or maybe the creativity is in your spices...or you toast some nuts and add them for crunch. Or maybe it is that citrus zest you add to your broccoli that brings it to life.
Consult Kitchen Creativity for autumn and winter and you’ll find:
Nutmeg and nuts and radishes.
Yams, vinegar, walnuts. Turmeric!
Don’t you just start tasting, smelling, savoring?
Here are my ingredients...what can I do with them?
Whatever page you turn to, you will find something wonderful. You don’t have to read methodically, cover to cover; though for the serious cookbook lover, this is a fabulous book to keep on your bedside table, read and savor!
This is a brilliant book.