How stay current or even cuttting edge on dishes?

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I've been given the opportunity to come up with a few specials during the summer. I am always amazed at the innovative, clean, and delicious dishes my chef puts out. I'm wondering where he comes up with these recipes. Since I will be doing the same I am wondering how to come up with my own. I know that I will put my own spin on my specials but can anyone give me a bit of advice on where to look for trendy dishes? I'm thinking that I should be looking at the magazines like gourmet and such, but by the time those come out people are already seeing these dishes. I want to be able to wow the customer and my chef alike. How do you stay current on dishes and where do you find your ideas?
 
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Instead of hunting for and choosing recipes how about hunting for fresh seasonal ingredients and then look for ideas on how to pull them together?

Summer is almost upon us so I am thinking cool and refreshing with lots of brite herbs and easy on the spices.

Have fun with it....

mimi
 
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flipflopgirl flipflopgirl said it well.

To be current though, or Cutting Edge!, look to learn new techniques (to you) because your not going to reinvent the wheel. What is the type of food your serving? Who's your clientele? What inspires you personally? Your Chef is just applying their own experience and techniques.

I personally have 3 herb gardens and am looking for innovative ways to grow and apply them. Microherbs is a fun trend.
 
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Thank you both for the input. I am thinking seasonally with fresh veggies and greans. We have microherbs on our cheese plate and some of the apps, they are a lot of fun and look great on the plate. Do you spend much time pouring over cookbooks or online sites for ideas? I understand looking for the seasonal ingredients and then basing a plate on this, but I'm wondering how much time is invested in looking for new ideas...or does it really all boil down to what is in season?
 
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Start slowly ...

Go to the farmers market and pick out a couple of ingredients that excite you.

Only criteria is that they be the perfect example of whatever.

When you get home choose one and read everything you can about it (recipes as well) until you KNOW how it will act when prepared different ways (doesn't always work this way so this is why you bring home 2 )

Doesn't have to be trendy in of itself...(think about how sunchokes made an appearance on Top Chef season 2, I think).

Someone used them as a potato puree sub and of course when one of the judges commented on prior useage the lowly choke was every wear (still hanging in there but not so much).

One rule to remember...if you chose to make a dish with few ingredients then those few you use must all be perfectly prepped and prepared.

Sometimes the path you are destined to follow can take a while to find...so don't get discouraged....

mimi
 
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Thanks. We have a farmer's market going on tomorrow and I happen to have the day off. I will make a point of doing just what you suggested.
 
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I will second everything the others said.

     In addition remember that simplicity is often the best but can also the toughest thing to do well.

By that I mean that you can't improve on a  perfectly ripe piece of fruit. All you need to do is highlight it.  An example of this I watched on a show spotlighting a famous french chef.  A perfectly poached ripe pear, cloaked completely in sabayon and decorated with toasted hazelnuts.

 Simple, elegant and hard to beat. 

Another chef was known for serving his vegetables three ways on the same plate. So a vegetable could be diced, the trimmings pureed and a bit of shavings deep fried. Impressive variety on the  plate from just one ingredient.

Another came up with the idea of serving soups with the ingredients stacked in the middle of a shallow bowl and the liquid poured around at table side, now common but innovative at the time . 

Another serves a high quality steak with onion rings but added a mustard custard to the plate. A simple custard flavored with dijon, served warm. 

     By all means read cookbooks create by professional chefs, magazines, web sites. I prefer those cookbooks with lots of color photos so you can see what the recipe is intended but by no means do you have to duplicate exactly. Observe the techniques used, substitute the ingredients you have available, put your own spin on things. 

     Often you can find "new" things in your own kitchen by seeing them in a new way. Take a tour of your kitchen. Can that ingredient be sliced, diced, pureed, shaved, made into a mousse, used as a sauce? Fried, baked, roasted, poached, pickled, salted? 

Cooking can offer endless ways to be creative. Use every means possible to expand your viewpoint and never stop looking for opportunities to learn new things. The ingredients don't have to be exotic or expensive. As mimi said, the most important factor is fresh and high quality, treated with great care and respect. 

Have fun. 
 
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Joined May 20, 2015
  Often you can find "new" things in your own kitchen by seeing them in a new way. Take a tour of your kitchen. Can that ingredient be sliced, diced, pureed, shaved, made into a mousse, used as a sauce? Fried, baked, roasted, poached, pickled, salted? 

Cooking can offer endless ways to be creative. Use every means possible to expand your viewpoint and never stop looking for opportunities to learn new things. The ingredients don't have to be exotic or expensive. As mimi said, the most important factor is fresh and high quality, treated with great care and respect. 

Have fun. 
To me Matt, this is probably the wisest thing said from anyone in here - what it boils down to is learning, understanding the fundamentals, and having that base knowledge to not just understand 'What' works together, but most importantly, 'Why'.

Never focus on what's trendy - in the scheme of things, sure, it may bring in an extra customer or two, and maybe warrant an instagram picture from a few diners behind the times, but what are you really getting from it? If this is something you're passionate about, if this is a career that interests you and makes you happy, a trick and a trend is only going to set you behind.

As an example, take the whole encapsulation technique - take your alginate and calcium, and for a gel around a liquid. It was all the craze once El Bulli started doing it. It was neat for a little bit - but why do it? Once someone had seen it once, it wasn't a novelty anymore, and on top of that, hydrocolloids (the gelling and emulsifying agents) mask and dull flavors - and as a chef, why on earth would I want to mask flavor just to get a wow out of someone once, and have it be done? Everyone eventually grew out of this phase when they finally understood, if you want an amazing flavor of tomato and mozzarella, you serve great tomatoes and fantastic mozzarella, not a mozzarella gel containing tomato water. Tricks and trends come and go all the time, but learning and understanding why things work, is infinitely more important, and at the end of the day, you make a solid dish that's interesting, and you understand WHY it's a solid combination, you'll impress a chef far more.

This is my .02 cents - like everyone said, take a look at cookbooks, blogs, articles - anything you can get your hands on about subjects that interest you. Play around, make a few dishes, etc etc - but not to just copy - try recipes from a few chefs, see what works, and maybe what doesn't. See why X works so well with Y. Later on, sure, start to put more of a spin on things, make them more your own, but what makes tweaking and finding your own culinary voice easier is understanding why things work.

I guess to sum up my obnoxiously long answer, I just say this: Don't get caught up just yet in doing cutting edge, trendy, or crazy things. There will be time for that later. Like chefwriter said, focus on learning as much as you can, and respecting your ingredients and techniques. Don't get caught up on what's 'better' or 'more popular', that's silly as well. Just cook what interests you and you enjoy, and experiment without worrying what's right or wrong - As Ferran Adria said, "A very good sardine is always preferable to a not so good lobster".
 
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Not to sound like a jerk, but if you get an answer to how to be cutting edge, you aren't. What is modern today is kitsch tomorrow. And after that,  its classic.  Focus on what you know is delicious, and make that fit into the style of where you are cooking.
 
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Not to sound like a jerk, but if you get an answer to how to be cutting edge, you aren't. What is modern today is kitsch tomorrow. And after that,  its classic.  Focus on what you know is delicious, and make that fit into the style of where you are cooking.
Good point here.

Your Chef has many years of knowledge of what foods marry well and which ones to stay away from.

These days, Chefs are taking simple ingredients and creating some pretty cool stuff.

It's those years of cooking, practicing, and research that produce these results.

THAT'S where the creativity comes from.

Also to be aware of is what the public in your area will respond to.

No matter what "cutting edge" dish you make, if the area in which you work has a different idea of food dishes, your idea could fail or pay off.

This comes from knowing your clientele, and only experience can help you there.
 
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Guy asks " how to be cutting edge"

Answered with " dont be"

Typical.

Trends at the moment are local, sustainable, fresh, seasonal and possibly rustic. Ignore the " trends" at your own peril. Gels, caviars, El Bulli techniques, " molecular" in general may be passe to some of you but they are all just techniques. Agar fluid gel.

Perspective, it is the theory of relativity. Eye of the beholder type thing. Grass is greener. Once you know a technique it is easy. The unknown is the magic.

Have fun dont let them keep you down.
 
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Joined May 20, 2015
Guy asks " how to be cutting edge"

Answered with " dont be"

Typical.

Trends at the moment are local, sustainable, fresh, seasonal and possibly rustic. Ignore the " trends" at your own peril. Gels, caviars, El Bulli techniques, " molecular" in general may be passe to some of you but they are all just techniques. Agar fluid gel.

Perspective, it is the theory of relativity. Eye of the beholder type thing. Grass is greener. Once you know a technique it is easy. The unknown is the magic.

Have fun dont let them keep you down.

Thinking locally,using fresh ingredients, as examples aren't 'trends', they're intelligent and informed ways of thinking. Getting caught up in putting vegetable ash on everything, as example, is.

Ignore trends and use your own brain, discern what is a core technique or way of thinking, and what isn't.

Coming back to molecular as you say - sure, there are bits and pieces that,in certain situations that can be useful, but that particular set of skills, is largely about glitz and glam. Why use a technique that from a scientific and flavor standpoint is pointless or detracts from flavor? There are useful techniques, and pointless ones. Just because it's there doesn't mean someone needs to use it.

What people are saying about food in general is be smart and intelligent-learn the building blocks, and it will be much easier to put your own spin on things later.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2013
Be smart and intelligent and learn building blocks, sure. Good advice on current, cutting edge techniques as asked.

Vegetable ash. How you come up with that? That is the point.

Caviars, wncapulation w.e. are over done and passe? Maybe to some but most people ( general population) havent heard of it.

The " trends " I mentioned ate in fact what many are calling them even though yes they are just common sense buzzwords.

Pick a few Chefs you like and emulate them there is nothing wrong with that. Keep learning and make it fun.
 
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But why does it matter what the general population has heard of? Coming back to caviars whatnot, my point I keep making is use what techniques actually make sense - who cares how many people know or don't know about them? Gels and hydrocolloids mask flavor -why use something like that, or worry about that, when someone is younger in their career, just for a second of wow factor ?

To what he originally said, he wants to impress his chef, and come up with some great specials. Pretty sure uderstanding Ingredients and cookING properly are going to impress his chef more than the flavor of the month, and will help more in the long run.
 
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Joined Apr 5, 2007
Guy asks " how to be cutting edge"

Answered with " dont be"

Typical.

Trends at the moment are local, sustainable, fresh, seasonal and possibly rustic. Ignore the " trends" at your own peril. Gels, caviars, El Bulli techniques, " molecular" in general may be passe to some of you but they are all just techniques. Agar fluid gel.

Perspective, it is the theory of relativity. Eye of the beholder type thing. Grass is greener. Once you know a technique it is easy. The unknown is the magic.

Have fun dont let them keep you down.
I really don't get your point here.  You are kind of making oblique statements (like "typical", of what?).  Being cutting edge isn't an issue of name checking a series of buzz words, as you say "they are all just techniques."   No technique will ever make somebody "cutting edge".  Technique only allows you express your ideas  of food in as open ended way as possible.  But at the end of it all you have to be able to use those techniques to express delicious to your customer.  You can have a huge vocabulary but have nothing to say.  Having a strong voice, that is the only thing that will make you different and unique.  
 
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I really don't get your point here. ....

No technique will ever make somebody "cutting edge".  Technique only allows you express your ideas  of food in as open ended way as possible.  But at the end of it all you have to be able to use those techniques to express delicious to your customer.  



Yes, only and all you have at the end is technique and ingredients. I am agreeing, thank you Alan.

So,where do you get your information lately Alan, Im sure you read some publication, have favourite Chefs you follow in some way. New books ( or old but new to you) etc etc, having a voice and using it helps yes.

Personally, I follow YOUR menus, it helps keep me current with what is TRENDY ( cutting edge Buzzzzzword of the decade is Popup) in Halifax, thank you once again. You are my direct competition ( I wish anyway lol)so it pays to keep tabs. Movie anyone or just soaps?

BYW OP Chefs will send their menus direct to your phone. I read Ruby Watchcos also and a few others.

I also have a lengthly wish-list on Amazon. I'll post it sometime maybe.

Read read read. Oh, by the way why you think Im here? That should answer the OPs question, to stay current. Haha on a forum ( OLD SCHOOL) to be current?

Instagram and Pinterest are newer technologies similar purpose.

Im just trying to be helpful go ahead rip me up I started it I guess.
 
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OG, sorry, I wasn't casting shade, I was really just unclear on your previous post.  I think we are coming at things in a similar fashion,just expressing things differently.  

I guess I view technique (and if you look at my history on the board since 07 you will see just who much I love technique) as a means to an end.  But that end comes from your own self, your own experience in life.  The more technique you have in your trick bag the better you can express your ideas about food.  

A common trap that writers fall into is writing about writing.  I really work hard at not cooking for the sake of cooking.  I honestly try to take inspiration from anything other than menus or trends.  And, yes, this is coming from the guy who is currently obsessed with  Japanese Cheesecake.   Go figure.

I am flattered, and somewhat concerned, that you would consider me competition (you are in NB, right?).  You might might consider pop-ups "buzzy" but believe me, that isn't why I am putting myself through this.  My margins are really small, my outfit is far from trendy ( I would get better exposure if we sold cow patties off of  a food truck). 

I guess, my thing is, being cutting edge isn't something you self declare.  It is totally in the eye of the beholder.  If you do the best the you can, and put as much of your self into what you do as you can, maybe somebody will notice.  Or not.  That's not a Chef problem.  Being good, being consistent with your business model is.
 
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I hate to be a poet or cliche but I think professional cooking especially that of a particular(ly high) order is a LOT more than technique and ingredients...! What about the artistry and intellect that goes into creating a dish?
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2013
I hate to be a poet or cliche but I think professional cooking especially that of a particular(ly high) order is a LOT more than technique and ingredients...! What about the artistry and intellect that goes into creating a dish?

Absolutely. And dont be concerned Alan, just saying an avenue to learning is to have info sent to you from the source.

The themed menus are cool. Your only competition in my head, and I'm only slightly joking, we have to constantly try to push ourselves by watching/ learning from our peers( better word maybe than comp haha), or we become stale.

SB your not being cliche at all. If a Chef is to study art in any form I consider it cross training and a very healthy activity. Studying business and science are perhaps equally as important. Architecture and design play a huge role as well.

Another way I like to stay current is to just go out and EAT at as many restaurants I can while travelling. May seem obvious, but doesnt all of this.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2013
[product="26686"][/product]Two resources that may help

Books

"At the high point of the project, 36 researchers, chefs, and editors were working simultaneously on the book."- wiki on this book

Trying out this content embed
 
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