It is not often that Plan Q is needed. It is even less often that a Plan Q exists in a pe-conceived form. In our world, there are many variables involved in creating a meal. Realizing these variables exist and planning for them are two separate things. In developing dishes the underlying theme is always delicious. In planning out a dish there is always the underlying assumption that we can execute our vision. Some days this works out better than others.
In planning a dinner we start with what is available and beautiful. Procuring the ingredients and planning the menu are intertwined actions. You may start with one or the other, but the project is all just supposition until you have the ingredients in hand. Once they make there way back to the kitchen we evaluate the bounty. The elements before us are often quite different from what was on the shopping list. Here is where it gets interesting. Here is also where a willingness to drink the Kool-Aid is essential. We are often asked why we do not send out menus for dinners ahead of time? The easy answer is because ingredients change. If you commit to x,y and z and then go shopping and see l,m,n,o and p are much better the diner and cook both get short changed. The tougher part of that answer is that sometimes user error occurs and things change on the fly. The trick is for the diner to be completely unaware that these last minute changes were a hat trick of epic proportions.
Working in someone else's kitchen, no matter how well stocked, can be challenging. The container that you thought was Gellan may turn out to be xanthan gum. The water may be different, causing your standard hydrocolloid ratios to have unusual results. Extrapolating recipes may not work if you forget that the egg yolks in the original were there for a reason. Some cheeses may be more ripe than others causing a sponge to become a burrata. Things happen for a reason. A good chef will be able to produce no matter how many curveballs come their way. Plan Q is based on quick reflexes and the ability to change focus in an instant. As important as good knife skills and a well seasoned palate, flexibility is a culinary skill to be cultivated as it will save your butt more times than a handy deep fryer.