Figuring out your own cuisine.. who you are as a cook/chef?

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Joined Jun 24, 2017
Been out of the game for years, but ive been back at it for a minute now. I still have the same question i left with many moons ago. who am i as a cook? what is my cuisine... what inspires me... idk, i really dont. my culinary program i never finished was classical french. worked in bland seafood, italian, tex mex, southern american etc. but i wouldnt say im any of these. well they are part of me, but i wouldnt want to open a resturant based off any one of those.. 

Mother was an indigenous taiwanese woman. her tribe was conquered and enslaved by the japs and chinese, so their cuisine is a fusion of three. I never really ate a lot of it though, she raised us as americans, my parents divorced and she died when i was young. but asian flavors were a norm for me, be it her chinese/vietnamese/korean etc friends. 

before she died she remarried a country tennessee boy with german roots. who was also a 20 year cook in the navy. so we ate a lot of military service style foods. i joined the military for a short spell before getting booted for prior medicals.. anyway while i was in, ppl were like the mess hall food sucked.. i was like.. its home cooking.. 

Father was county kentucky boy. Liked meat and potatoes. Didnt really cook much other than meats on the grill.. he did make this killer sauerkraut ribs he learned while we lived in germany. he was a 30 yr military vet. he also married two other women after divorcing me mom. a korean lady and a mexican/murican. they brought their flavors in house from time to time, but the same story, raised their own kids to be murican.. whatever that means??

due to being a military brat, i grew up in cali, tx, carolinas, georgia, florida, west virginia, germany, south korea etc etc..  

ive experienced some different flavor profiles for sure... which is a blessing, but a curse..  

did you just say ill cook what i know is good and settle for that.. or did you reach for what you grew up on?? pushed unexplored territory??

I recently had a offer to lead a restaurant across town but i turned it down, because i dont feel ready to be honest. i need another 1-3 years imo and i need my cuisine - my true voice. i dont regret passing on the job, because if i stick around, the current kitchen will be mine eventually or im sure that spot will open up across town again. 

i cant even pull that if i had to cook one meal crap... what would it be.. idk..  if i could eat one thing before i died what would it be... a 3 cheese totinos party pizza with extra cheese.. seriously.. 

maybe what actually sells locally should be my focus.. cause if im ever in charge.. making money is the goal right... just feels soulless though.. idk.. its late im working on getting... drunk.. idk even know if what i wrote made any sense.. tl;dr material im sure..
 
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Joined Oct 29, 2016
Haha, welcome to the club. This has been on my mind as well. I recently stepped down from exect at a "nice" burger joint to work as a line cook at an innovative white table cloth place. It was the best move I ever made. In just a short time I have been influenced by so many foods that I didn't even know existed. Wtf is farro? I recently found out. I used to think it was salmon lol Anyways, back to the subject at hand. I'm currently on track to open a food truck that offers healthy yet delicous foods. Mainly based on the current trends in the market. I also love turkey sandwiches and grilled cheese. Point being, I don't really know my knich either. I just like making food for people, and eating it. Did I mention I love cupcakes?
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
When in doubt, stick with the basics:

Good quality ingredients

And

Most appropriate technique and cooking method for those ingredients

Don't worry about creativity, you will become naturally creative when you master all of the techniques and cooking methods.
 
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
Interesting topic!  I suppose after two and a half decades I have some ideas about who I am as a cook, and just as importantly who I'm not.  Everyone seems to come out the gate as a youngster thinking they're gonna change the world no matter what they want to do- rock star, artist, entrepreneur, chef, etc.  Honestly I think the thing that I want to define me is change; I don't want to ever reach the stage where I don't grow or accept anything new.  But some things are hallmarks of my food.  It has to be as fresh as I can get it, it has to be prepared with care and presented in an attractive way, and it has to reflect my personality in some way and to some extent.  But it won't ever be cute for cute's sake.  You'll never see me sticking prawns on the tines of an old rake I found in the garden!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
 
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Joined Sep 21, 2001
Figuring out your own food comes from having to solve real life food-related scenarios.

I just began a new job a few weeks ago.

Last week one of the staff comes up to me and says 'do you have a veggie burger we could put on the menu"?

My answer was 'of course I do!"

Then we had the discussion about what she likes and doesn't like and what restaurants in the area are doing;

and the name brand ones that I can buy.

I made a patty of of  pureed and chopped quartered artichoke hearts, pureed tofu and commercial cheap falafel mix.

Mix it up, let it set for an hour, portion them out and into the freezer they went. To serve I deep fry them. They turn out great.

I like them with a pile of grilled onions and melted cheese... Bailey -Hazen Blue...on a house-made potato roll.

Feel free to use this recipe!

Peachcreek
 
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Joined Sep 21, 2001
Another thing...

Do what your mom told you not to do.....

Play with your food! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif
 
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