We are the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress in New York CIty and thee is a lot going on. We are excited to see old friends, meet new ones, get the brain cells crackling and learn some new things, find new ideas, inspirations and motivation in an environment surrounded by our peers. When we say peers we mean people who are passionate about creating great food and drink and sharing it with everyone else. One of the nice things about a congress like this is that people come here to learn and to improve. We all want the same thing and are willing to invest time and money to make it happen. There's no resting on our laurels of complacency. People come because they know that the culinary world is an ever-changing landscape and it pays to pay attention to what's going on in the world around us.
We are excited to be presenting a workshop on sous vide cooking on Tuesday morning. While sharing on the last day means we have to stay focused throughout the program on what we are there to do, it also gives us a unique opportunity to learn as we go. Anyone who's ever worked with us knows we like to tinker, never fully commiting to the exact details of a presentation until the last possible moment. This threshold changes from venue to venue but believe me when I say that if there's some wiggle room Alex will find it. This is not because we are unorganized, rather it is because we are so full of enthusiasm that it is hard to condense everything we want to communicate into the time period allotted.
Last year in November we were fired up for a different lecture we were giving at another venue and wrote about 5 Factors Shaping Creativity in the Kitchen. Today we're going to talk about three ways to help to keep your creative edge sharp.
1. Be curious. Our favorite question in the kitchen is "why?" Finding out why things work or why they interact the way they do or simply why something tastes so good often leads to those inspirational "a-ha" moments. Never assume that you know the answer to someone else's question. If you're curious about how someone did something then (respectfully) ask them. Their approach may surprise you. In this world of social media and shallow relationships, being able to reach out and make an actual connection with someone by sharing ideas is priceless. Creativity doesn't flourish in a vacuum. We all need stimulation to stay motivated.
2. Be a problem solver. Never be afraid to try something new. Failure is your biggest success in the kitchen. Sound counterintutive? Failures force us look at things from a new perspective and take some chances. Success breeds complacency. The long road uphill is a lot more rewarding than the quick tumble down a slippery slope. Never assume that something won't work until you try it yourself. Even if you don't get the results you want you will probably learn something valuable in the process. TIme is never wasted if you gain new insights that will help you towards your goal.
3. Relax and enjoy yourself. Try to have fun with whatever you're doing. Enjoy the hot breeze on your cheeks from the grill or the sizzle of the saute pan. Look around the kitchen and revel in knowing that you're part of a team sharing a common goal, to create a wonderful dining experience, be it at home or in a restaurant. Inhale and enjoy the scent of food cooking. Relax at the table with friends and family and take the time to really enjoy your meal. The memories you create will make you a better cook. The times when we get stuck creatively are the times when we think too much, put too much pressure on the idea of success and try to carry the load by ourselves. Smile, roll your shoulders and enjoy the process. Once you conquer this challenge there will be another. Might as well have fun with it.