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Culinary Artistry

Culinary Artistry

Ir' to u,e mgredlents In the way they are most naturally suit-

ed J .1 lum ~rlachal point~ out th,lt there are more than forty different types

f porat e . "Mt ~t cu,wmer are only familtar with Idaho and Red Bliss," he

,3Y- "I u e Yukon Golds exclusively for mashed potatoe" for example,
f:,ecau,e of their texture an~ golden color. And I'll use fingerlings [tiny pota-

toe the 'I:e of a fingertip] tor·alads."

Utilizing Kitchen Tools Even the particular kitchen equipment
used can affect the flavor of the fin-

bhed product. Gray Kun: uses only the freshest herbs, and wants the same
fre~hne~~ from hiS pices. "That's why we grind all our spices at the restaurant,

u:mg a ,mall coffee grinder." says Kun:.

~dark Peel believe" that using simple tools often results In better food
than b po~ible from high-tech gadgets. "If you take exactly the same recipe

and }OU make pesta or an aiolt with a CUI<inart, and then 'ou make it with

a mOrl:ar and pe,tle. they're completely different," explains Peel. "You can

,ee-and ta.'te-the difference.

"In a CUlsinart. when garltc come 10 contact With the air, YllU get bit-

teme '. The air 1 reactm~ \\ ith [he JUIce of the g, ritc, whIch re,ults m a

_harpnc . With a mortar and pc tIc, you're not gcttm!! the heat [fwm the

motor of the CUI mart]. The ~arlic.. tm continual!} C Mred WIth olive oil.

and you're not incorporaWH! • Ir tnto It. In a CUI mart, you're II1Cotl'orating

so much au into It, y u're maklOP a mou .!" For th t rcru n. Illortdr;, and

pestle are t Ie tn Campantle' kit hen. The re tc urant tnrlke till it'> (lwn

mayonnai e, for example, u m' a m rwr nd e tie.

"A lot of tim' pl: pi Will u e burr miXer lu "llendcr-on-a- [J k"l for
pureem thm~ ," y Peel. hit' r II) • t, ,",ut }ou're better oft u ing a luad

mill. It takes lon_cr, and It' I (me ler, but u end up with .1 better pro I-

uet. The food mill \\111 take fiber ut, \\hll the r.urr tnllcer JU l c.hop It up.

When makln!?, for in rance, m.! h d potalOC • cl ~ mill I e erma\. With a

burr mixer, the) . The < nule of t< reh, wlHeh

have been puffed up In the

watcr, re till mra t. If you burr-

mix It, ) ou bre k them 0 en,

• nd it rum (he texture.

"We u e to m Ike a fl h

Up that \\ Imo t L lilli-

.lbal ,c nd \\C \\ould burr-miX

I , then p3 It {hr HI .h ~,oo

mill, b It e'd Ie 1\' > m t

ur behtn The burr-IOI In

released a lot of the flavor from the lobster sh ells, and then the food mill
meant that we could extract the juice and th e larger fibers, yet leave enou~h
behind to give the soup density."

Travel prov ides opportunities to learn and be

Global Techniques inspired by new techniques, even for seasoned

chefs. George German experiments with A sian techniques within the realm
of the Italian-inspired cuisine served at Al Forno. "If something has a \ine-
gar and oil base, generally the process would be to cook it in oil first, and then
add vinegar afterward . But I'll do a flip-flop of that---cooking in vinegar fiN
keeps a real sprightly texture, and then I'll just dress it with oil at the very
end. It gives a whole different spirit to the dish .

"I think that what appeals to me most about A sian technique is lock-
ing in the flavor, and their methods for doing that," says German. "That's
what got me to start thinking, If they can do it in th eir cooking-which I feel
i5 so close to Italtan-then why sh ouldn't we be applying the same principles?
Why does something have to be cooked for h ours and h ours and hours, when
it can be cooked for a much ~horte r time and h ave more flavor to it? We just
try to take different approaches to our food. "

Rick Bayless on Combining Mexican Flavors

BaSically, Mexican flavor fall intll. ourle of Careg me : tho tho t .H\.' ha~ed on dried chile" and tho~e
that are ba ed on fresh chile.

Dried Chile Flavors: Because of the natu[\:: of the drYIng proce .lOd \Ihat it inremifies, a cert.lin kind
of fruitiness is drawn out, thi dned-fruit frultine . TI1en thtlt' balclOccd .Igalmt a lot of other t1a\'()f~ that
range from bitter, like unsweetened chocolate or an almost rohdcco-Itke hirterne.,s, to a rea l fru itl!1e like
the kind you'd get in a dried tomato. When 'ou mix all of that klOd of ,tuff together, you've (!ot really
deep. rich flavor. That's the ba I f.l "hole categol) of MeXican dishe . Almust .l lway' , e\'el)·thll1!.! in
thi categol)' is toasted before tt' used, which add another dimen lon, ,mother level uf compleXity to the
flavor. Clearly, when you're working with dried chile, there are some pretty untamed t1av,m JI1 there I
\\ell, ) you have to work with those and figure out how to balance them or play them down nr JI1 orne
ca ~ eliminate them by, for example, soaking the chile and then thnm ing away the soak ing water.

Becau e thi is uch a major category of Mexican flavor, it's where I pur a lot ot my ,lttentlon,

he au e I want to draw out a much of the flavor as I can from the chile and e1ab< fate on th,H \I Ithout

tf) 109 to und It in any .... ay. I really capture the very pint of the flavor the chile ha to offer \\Ith ut
mpr ml 109 It In an} way. A lot of chef might tl) to elimmate a lot of it flavor th t It bee me

I) untl • hut then J thmk }ou\e reall} mi ed the point of the chile. We try to really let th m he


Jc,hanne Killeen points out that "In Asia, when poaching a chicken,
,omenme' It will be left: out to air-dry, ~o that the skin becomes really crisp.
SOJllerill1e~ thev'll deep-fry it, but we'll do something like poaching it, drying
If bnet1y, dnd then roastmg it-and that produces a really crispy, crispy skin
anci a <UI:culent interim that is really juicy."

Jean -Louis PallaJin says he was inspired by the best duck of his life at
the Empress Room when traveling through Asia. "I ate there five times in a
tl)W," he says. "Unfortunately, I don't have the ovens that they have there,
where they can leave the duck for hours to cook, painting it with sauce until
it turns golden. Then they served only the skin of the duck!"

Living and working in Asia is also what Jean-Georges Vongerichten
credits with "waking up" different flavors for him. While flavored oils have
been around for hundreds of years, Vongerichten says he enjoyed experi-
menting with oils and different spices: "It was new to see parsley oil." When
hL cusromers started watching their waistlines and cholesterol levels more
closely, Vongerichten took the beurre blanc with parsley puree off the grilled
scallops he served, replacing it With a lighter parsley oil.

Gray Kun: credits his multiracial staff at Lespinasse with influencing
his experimentation with flavors and ingredients fmm around the world. "My

what they are but yet, at the same time, put their he t foot forward. And that sometimes comes in the
way that we prepare them-the initial tep~ of preparation are in the toasting and the soaking--or it
might come in the way that we cook them. There' a very tandard method for cooking dried chiles
where a puree i' made out of them, and then that' cooked in a very hot pan with just a little bit of oil
in it 0 you're searing it and reducing it. When it' reduced to a really thick paste, at that point you can
add tock and bring it up to a brothy or auce-like consi tency. That's one of the way we work with that
(category ot] flavor. There' a kind of triumvirate that run through a lot of tho e di he : black pepper,

clove, and cinnamon, although sometime the cinnamon will be replaced with a little bit of cumin.

And then alway garlic.

Fre h Chile Flavors: On the flip ide, the fre h chile flavor are typically associated with things like
lime and cilantro, and they're much ea ier to work with. When they're the really mall chile, frequent-
ly they're not cooked, so you get a lot of gras ine out of them. You're thinking more in terms of heat
and harpne ; obviou ly, if you're balancing them with cilantro and lime, you're ju t underscoring even
more the brashne they can offer. When you get into the larger chile , like poblanos, u ually they're
roasted, which turns the flavor from grassy to more like a deep, rich herb like rosemary or even a hint of
the flavor you get in very green olive oil. It' more a vegetal flavor than it IS a fruit flavor. When you're

dealang with fre h chiles, garlic i usually replaced by raw onion-and it' alway white onion, never yel-
l ,because It has a much cleaner, bnghter flavor than the yellow one do.


sous chef is from India and brings in ideas from traditional Indian cookm!(."

he says.
Terrance Brennan credits his stint at Gualtiero Marchesi, a MIChelm

three-star restaurant in Italy, with teaching him the importance of prepanng

pasta from scratch. "It was there that I learned that if you add more egg yolk

to the pasta dough, it results in a richer-tasting pasta," says Brennan. "Now

we make our own pasta at Picholine, to ensure a fresher taste." Picholine

serves no flavored pastas, except an occasional black pasta made from squid

ink: "All the other flavors cook out in the pasta-making process, and all

you're left with is the color," he explains.

Brennan was also inspired to bring the same perfectionism to his prepa-

ration of risotto, which some consider to be among the best in the city. The

secret to risotto? "When risotto sits around, whether it's half-cooked or not, it

starts to break down. So it's only done to order. And the rice I use IS very

important-it's a semi-fino, as opposed to arborio, which is a fino. So it's a larg-

er grain, with a harder core to it. It's what the Venetians use, although they

make a more soupy risotto and I keep it tighter. I like it because it's very hard

to overcook, ince it has a yery hard center. It's creamy, and I like the way it

stays together in your mouth when you eat It. There's even a larger grain,

called camaroli, which when It cook up ha . the grains stay very separate, but
I Just didn't like the feel on the palate. ~ orne chefs may think it's uperior to

the semi-fino I u~e, but I don't think o. I think tt'~ a matter of taste."
It I important for chef~ to hone their knowledge and judgment of tech-

nique~o that they can he effectlve 10 ..levI ing new approaches to wiving

cui mary dilemma. One clever • \~W York City cafe, trYlOg to devise a low-fat

way to cook eggs, stuck a bowl )f raw, beaten eggs under the node of their

cappucino m, chlOe\ mdk ~teamer. The steamed crambled eggs have since

become one \If the retaurant' ;,rectalty hreakfa~t Item.

Dieter chorner 3Y, "Chef~ need to thmk ahout what It I, neces~ary

to do ro get the effect that rhe} want, or to make thlOg, better. For example,

I make tarte Tatin [carmeltzed apple tarr]. In France, the apple Bre cooked

with rhe cammel, with a cru~t on top. But the drple needs to ~team, wlllch
uually make~ the cru,t oggy. 0 I learned to cook the Cfu"t ,epa ratel}, wirh

aluminum fot! on top, which re.,ult tn a CTiSP cnlst. An old French chef onLe
a ked me, 'Wh~' do you cook the cru r like that? oix)Jy J Ot'5 It Itkc that In

France!' And I aid, 'That's right. But If I c lpy e"erything I ce ex Icrlr. chen

I don't have a hrain!'"

[Ill. in Jean-George:; Vongen hten' piniOn, flavor I p r mount O\ er

"pr per" rechntque. "If my cooks make < Inl t.lke on memtn tel-hOi I. I

clo e m\ }e ," he a} . "But If the} make a Int take ~Ith mn ,I ~ 11 11



Cooking Technique and Altenlati e

\Vhen usmg culinary techni4ue~, chef~ ~hould ca mider alternative to the
usual methods that might result m more intere~tin~ flaq)rs or texture:

Breading Instead of ordinary bread crumbs. consider using:

pecans, crushed
plantains. crushed

Dredging Instead of flour. consider using:

Cream of \</heat
rice flake:
water chestnut t10ur

Skewering Instead of ,imrie wooden ~kewers, c\.)n~ider usmg:
rosemary branches
ugar cane

Thickening In-te. d f t1our, cormtarch. ( r amlwrlxlt. elm,iLler Llsing:
. l--re. d

.. butter
(,mot . pureed


c ml, hellf. h

e g yolks
garlic, roa ted and pureed

In tant m hed potato flake

nut, ground
pecans, ground
potatoe , pureed

toes with un-dried tomatoe In order to give a different pm ro (he (Om.ltO

flavor In a di h. The ame pnnciple applie when a iding corn kernel r" corn

bread. or featuring chocolate Jesscn with multiple ch colate .sinKe .

. In the ame vein. Gary Danko illu trate how the tlwOf oi apple (; 10 f,e

Inten. ifled to enhance a duck JI h. "You want to get the , pple , I .:t frUit, [ )

be a little more avo!). That would be accompli hed by Itght1~... ,king [hem

until they tan to caramelize. You want to dc\clop that fl avor ,I \\ ell I ""I.:

the aprle dUring thb -rage," he ~a .~. "When they're done caramdi:mg, you

mIe"ht wire all the fat out of the .pan-horefully, it's a nonstick pan-and

then deda:e It WIth a little bit ot Calvados and some apple cider in small
quantltie', bnngmg it down to a gla:e. Again, you're gomg to get that next
-reI' of carameli:atlon. With every step of caramelization, you're going to get

more I1a\'or."

~bry Sue Milliken recalls the process of experimenting with the ingre-
,hent~ tnvolved in making "the world's best £lan," as Susan Feniger describes
it. and achie\'ing exactly the right milky taste. "First we used sweetened con-
den,ed milk. Then we used whole milk. Then we eventually used nonfat milk
reduced 50 percent to which we added sugar," Milliken says. "When we make
the £lan with It, it has the most incredible rich, milky flavor. But we've spent
nine year~ working on it."

Bradley Ogden finds that too many cooks

Enhancing Flavors overreach their abilities when It comes to

combining ingredients. "If most cooks would just try to enhance the natural

flavor that are already there, they'd be a lot better off," he ays. "Some of

them don't have the education or the palate to pull thing, off. Imtead of

keeping thing, implified, they create a mi,hma h of fla\'or~ and tastes and
texture, and countries, and you don't know what you're eating by the time it's

all done."
"Sea oning should not kill the ra~te; it hould enhance the fla\'or of the

mgredient:' ay Dieter Schomer. "If you're eating fi,h, it hould ,mell and

ta te ltke the fish-not, for example, like you're eat109 Ju,taffron. I found
that in ~ome French kitchen~ there would be .0 much ltqueur u,ed in desserts

that it wa almo,t all you could ta te."
It is often the role of sea. on109 and herb~, uch a ~alt and lemon, to

enhance the essential flavor of ingredienb. " alt's potency In heIghtening

the ta te of food i. unmatched," wnte Edward Behr in hI book The Artful

EateT " alt deepen' flavor anJ to an extent unite, them, and It balance

aCl(.lity and weetness, helping to re_tore equilibrium when they nre in

exce '."

It b important to u e proper techntque when ea.,onmg WIth alt, which

will affect the flavor. "Different food., call for different method of air109,"

points out Gary Danko. "For example, with thmg ltke meat and fillet that

have been trimmed down to the bare muscle, I cook them, let them re t, and
w~lle they're re ting [ salt them. [n a I:rraisee, you would ea on your liqUId

ltghtly because thtre I an exchange between the juice of the meat and the

uce, and they eventually become one. [f you're cookmg ay, trout, you're

gomg to salt it fir t, then flour it." '

I!]IO ot parad, e muo;t.lrd r< \"\t' ~tar anise
carJ.1 1110 111 caper, cassia
(ll..~\ es fennel garlic cmnamon
honey oregano
h(lr,cr'ld,~h turmeric parsley "zechuan rCpplr
sage cassia
capers ni"...ella thyme gmger
lel110n allspice saftron tam<lrind
mu,rarJ coriander basil curry
savory chives
Juniper bcrnes thyme cmnamon tarragon
albplce cloves chervil
garlic nutmeg coriander garlic
mafjoram allspice cumm oregano
pepper. black cmnamon fennel parsley
ro,emary cloves garlic thyme
cumm glnger
h\t;nder gmger mint thyme
narlic par,ley hasil
~ cumm ~lge hay leaf

lemonura s oregano anchovy chervil
ch tie, ba~d -oarhc marjoram
cdantro cmnamon par,ley oregano
conanJer cumm r cmar) parsley
garlic rhyme sage
peprer, g<lrlic
,hallDt, as afra turmeric
par,lt:y mu,tarJ
marjoram ,a\"0f) .I11'plce
thyme anre \ .10ilia
par In chde~ caramel
cilantro chocol.lte
cinnamon ha,il pepper, hlack
dill hay leaf cmn,lm n
nutmeg cht:rnl C iii n
par.,lc\ chive, c()Conur
chyme hme
Jill n>ffee
mmt garlic hallut
ba'll wme rum
(.hocolate nregano
Cilantro thyme orrel
conander chl\lCS
,ulte parsley
p r Ie)

lots in it, so that It' aim t
sh allot sauce that'., macera ed In
vmegar With some oltve 011
added and black pepper, and ['1\
spoon that over it. 0 you're
constantly making thoe kinc6 of
considerations and evaluations.
Every day, these thing~ change."

Chns Schlesinger believes
that when experimenting with
spices, A mericans are at a disadvantage. H e says, "We don't have a lot of
experience working with spices. If you go to Mexico, Central America, the
Middle East, India, they use a tremendous amount of pices, and there are
developed ways to use spices, developed combinations of spices, all orts of
precedent. In India, the skill and attention and detail that go into the buy-
ing, handlmg, toring, combining, and cooking of plces IS on a par With a

"Flavor Cliques"

There are ome gr up of "fla\'OT pal" that are . 0 fond of one another that
they hang out w_emer in cltquc, nd the eli IUC have become so popular as
ro ment their O\\!TI nam :

Bagna cauda: It !tan for "hot bath"-a aucc of olive otl, hutter, salt, pep-

per, anchovi I and lemon :e [, t} picully erved with vegetahle

Bouquet gami: hay leaf, par Icy, thyme

Chinese fit'e-spice J>o«,'der: <:'1 1<1 or cmnamon: clove , fagara,
fennel, tar ani e

Fines herbes: chervil, chive, par ley, aod tarra!! n

Gremolata: garlic, par ley, lemon :c t, anchovie
Herbes a Tortue: ha d, chervil, fennel, marjoram, vary

Mirepoix: carrot, celery, Onton
Spanish picada: garlic, par ley, and (fr n ~round Volth almond or plOenu

Quatre-Epices: cloves, mger, nutmeg, p pp r
Tunisian fi..'c- pice mix: cmnamon, d v, m f p:: r d ,nurm ,pepper


Experimenting with Flavors When leading chef experunCnt
with flavor, ttl hnng Out th

ones that will tantali:e us most, how do they approach the challenge?

Hubert Keller starts with a recipe on paper. "If you think ahout it, }ou

can combine the flavors in your mind and envision how someth ing \\111 ta.:;te,"

he says, refernng to an ability that comes easier to more experienced chet".,.

Given the direction toward lighter food that Keller sees as having influenced

cooking over the last decade, he also likes to demonstrate that food, even old

combinations, can be updated. "Lamb has traditionally been served With a rich

red wine sauce," he points out. "Now I do it with a Med ot. Today when you

say Medot, everybody jumps! The Merlot has a hint of vanilla flavor in it, and
instead of using butter to add richness and flavor to the sauce, 1add ~ome fresh

vanilla, which empha I:es the \'3Oilla flavor In the Medot."

The next step for Keller is trying out his ideas on the line of hi restau-

rant kitchen. ''I'll prepare the dish and taste it to find out if it works. Then

the eye come~ In-I'll made a drawing, tllutrating how to display the gar-

nishes for the dl,h on the plate. ThL might take four or five , even six, tries.

Finally, I'll tl) it out on orne good cu,Wmer, and see what they think. I've

got cutomer who are open enough w ,l)' to me, 'Well, It'S not my favome.. .'

That\ when It' IInporWnt for a chl.J en be fle.·ible enough to either change a

dl,h or take It off the menu complerel~ if it\ not ri!.!ht."

Jo~ce G 1 tem ay, "I nl~ know methmg\ right when I eat it and

It' complete m m m uth-an i \\ hen other people eat It, they get It. I'm

coming out \nth k c, lie Kitchen Cont'crsatlOn thar will ask read-

"Flavor Enemies"

While fl:.l\or p:.I1 (.an't e t'nou hoc ch other, f1JWlr enernit.: are (lnc that \ Oll

pr b bI} don't want to mVI e m 0 rhe me dl h, unit: YOIl do 0 \\ tth gn.'4l t Lirt'!

bd iI \\ mc

.:hll ,lC1JI C to"J,
tarra on
d p,lra 'U'
chocolate chO<..ol.m~
t:ort mdcr
Cltru frUi
h [, I'lcy food
larrag( n
ICC ere m
m t other her
M (,
[( matot:



one the '" e cooked a Are ou there )et? Did

you get what )OU were aiming

for. What were the element you

were playmg with? If you like

bitterne •how do you play it up?

How do you keep the plate in

balance without going over the

edge and getting too bitter? If

you like harpness, or acidity,

how do you keep that in the forefront too tart and

killIng everything else? It help to think about why you like certain dishes.

Why are you playing in this ballpark? Why are you interested in that? Certain

things are texture, certain things are taste-when you play with them, the

whole becomes more than the urn of the parts. That's when you've hit it."

According to Jean-louis Palladin, a chef works exactly like a painter.

"You start with the basics, and build the painting you want," he say. "After

thiry-seven years in the kitchen, I can make matches pretty well." Palladin

adds, too modestly. "I can see in my mind the matching without even ta ting

it. Of course, I alway try it and taste it fIrst. and I may change it a little bit.

But 95 percent of the time. it' a wInner."

Gary Danko on Cooking with Wine

Because we're a restaurant of the caliber that serves expensive wmes, all

the food here has to be more delacate. we'll never do, for example, a

Moroccan dISh In Its authentically hot-bot-hot seuorung, but I'll use the

same flavor principles and balance the dish more delacately so that It can

actually work here.

Wane and artichoka lft very difficult to match. 1be way you would

deal WIth that to use the artichoka as a gamiIh an a dish, but you would

have a J2 ore that would make the bridte betAUn the dish and the wtne.

AIparaaus and wine aren't the best of frienda. although you can use the

Ii , character of a Sauvignon Blanc to match that il fIt character of the

IPpDI'W Ifl had to march a wme WIth a.1 would put .mcbee CODlpOOetlt

Into the dish. maybe IOQte crumbled p t d r eM', and work &OID chat poult
of III!II1Cb. and thea put a ~ OIl It which would 10ft of lubckatr or

. . 'Itt that diRct ' - '• •iae t It', And, ClUIIe ....aId,t via p o ' "
wilw doOt m 7 h. But tIwa lie R Jrr Jila
Iw csie Wi).

which... • lor of.-...U •- with .....iawALut.elHI ,

gUtdeImeso The students wouldn't know where to begm or how to have
reaCt.ion, " says G eorge Germon . "Similarly, cooks say they want freedom In

th e kL· tChen, and L't makes me chuckle. 1 know they'd fall apar"t wLthout the
truth L·S " thev need reference po ints to build on .
structure. The Killeen agrees. "In the worlds ~f art or a rchite ct u~e, yo~ alwil)'

have a reference point for whatever it is you re creatmg. If you re bULldlng a

house, for example, and you want it square, there will be one wall that LS your

reference point and you'll take all your measurements from that one wall,"

she says. "Likewise, Italy is our reference point in our cooking."

"And within that structure, we make our own rules," adds German.

"But it's good to have that reference point. It keeps us in foc us. It's extreme_

ly important to have a philosophy in cooking; it even helps build tru t among

your employees, who begin to see that there is a rationale beh ind your cri-

tique of their food, that there's something specific you're goin g after."

Where does a dish originate? It starting point, or reference point, can

be anything! It might stem from the request of a customer to satisfy a partic-

ular craving. Or from the arrival of the ea on's first bounty--of produce, of

wine-which demands a dish that celebrates it. Or from a chef who may wish

to expenment With a particular technique, in a dish that employs it. A dish

can be created to achieve any of the~e ends, and at its best may ach ieve many

ends at once. One created pnmanly for nourishment. for example, wilt ideal-

ly also please the ta te bud~--even charm the Iopirit!

Classic Dishes hen -c<llIed cia ic di he fir.,t came into being

through a tartlng point. As Chris c hlesinger

points out, "Cia Ie dl he. uch a boutllah<ll e and Caesar salad, were not

indi\'idual dL he creared OLlt of people' mind; they were hased on thing,

that were already there, that ther h,ld to work with. The creativit y wa In the

interpretation of the ingredient, not ncce emly in choosing and interpreting

them. Often, creating a dL h L n t a trietly creative process-one hegmnlnf,:

with a blank late-but ne where you've got these ingredLents that you're

H' moving around, and you're re earchlng what work:; together."

IStOry represents the roots of my CUtS Cl-" .
a LC dl h tYPically con i t of combtna-

-Dar> el Sou ud tions--of flavor, texture even aroma and c 1 r -

that hi tory ha been h·ard -pre ed to orller Irmpn'vernents upon . The ir h.Lvr,n

stood the te t of time spealUL>_ to theeIegance of theLf form, tn eomhtntng tfIel-
vors no.t o. nly harmoniouslY but, I.n many case, ynergi ttcally, uch (hi t

whole I Indeed greater than the urn f the Ind LVIduaI p res.

Other cia Le di he range from cas oulet to paella, fr In coq au un t
steak au poll'l"e . "I n each t hem,
f all the IngredLent that are tht: re r th r


for a reason-because they work," pomt out Terran e Br nnan Tht t


~,ohlli)ud l, d[~bo~ugthhteta_uilmmwarhreiangceoomfpionsgirneg~inenetws dishes-in Brennan's wmds, "A reaI
resulting in high-quality cooking."

RICk Bayless tends to agree. Too many people always worry about cre-

attng something new," he believes. "I'm more interested in perfecting some-

thing for myself, and knowing it's perfect. Only then would I consider tweak-

ing it. 'Mastering the classics' doesn't mean doing the same things the same

way they've always been done-it means making them exactly right for you

today. There's genius in those classic dishes that isn't always appreciated."

Researching classic dishes can inform chefs of those food matches that

history tells us are the most successful of all time and prevent them from hav-

ing to start from scratch. Chris Schlesinger, like other leading chefs, looks to

the past when creating food for the present. "I was reading a book on pick-

ling from the 1950s. These people pickled everything-even grapes! That's

what's so mind-blowing. You could name a decade and I could make a menu

from old cookbooks from that decade, using only those recipes, and customers

today would go, 'Wow-that's so creative! How did you think that up?' When

we first served plantains at the East Coast Grill, not a lot of people had seen

them and customers would say, 'Wow-these are unbelievable!' But plantains

are so common that they're eaten like French fries in a lot of other cultures.

"I was researching Brazilian cuisine and found that the northern part of

Brazd has a lot of diverse influences with the slaves from Africa. For exam-

ple, there's a classic combmatlon of mgredlent.!>-tomatoes, peanuts, and

coconut milk-that's served in a relish, and I served it on some grilled lamb

in the restaurant. Customers went wild over it and asked me, 'How did you

ever think of combining those ingredIents?' I had to tell them that it' a clas-

sic dish of this region that' been prepared for hundred of year -."

Wayne N Ish recalls expenmenting with pasta blankets embedded with

herbs when he cooked at The QUIlted Giraffe. "ImmedIately afterward I came

across a reference of the same exact technique in one of [Giuliano] Bugialli's

books, which was referenced back to fourteenth century iena-l think that

was the first time the technique shows up in any cookbooks or records," says

N Ish. "So here I was, thinking I was domg thIS really neat new thing, only to

fmd out that there had been people rolling the same thing out by hand six

hundred yeac ago."

Borrowing from the Classics Where is the lme between
copying and findmg inspira-
tlon m a cUisine? And how far can that line be pu hed? Chris Sch lesmger
points out, "My food, while not exact dupltcatLOn, is true to the flavors and
mgredient of the culture that inspired It. If a dish i inspired by a dish that

I had m Th Iland, for example, It won't ha\"t:! any mgredients that can't he

c 9o

L nder tandim: a~ much as possible about a particular ingredient can

heir 111(, rill \\'h"t ro do with it and which other ingredients to combine it

with. m a kmd of culmary free -association. "If you're working with duck, and
\ou know that ducks eat grains, like corn, then you can serve a corn cake
wnh[Ole gras. because it's part of their environment. Serving grain with duck
goes back ro duck' and wheatfields," says Brennan. "It's game, it's fall, there's
mushrooms. The gaminess of game goes well with squash, because there's a
nice sweetness to it. I lmoe purees in the wintertime; they go really well with
game. So Just working with the seasons, you're half way there."

After startmg with the seasons, "Good taste leads you to combinations
that work," says Lydia Shire. She believes chefs can develop taste through
eat1l1g out in restaurants and experiencing firsthand which combinations are
pleaSlOg and which miss their mark.

}"llchael Romano agrees that "a chef has ro have taste in terms of know-
ing how ro put things together. As in every human endeavor, you can
improve to a certain extent through training and practice," he says. "But
beyond a certain level, you either have it or you don't. You can give two peo-
ple the same budget and send them into a clothing store, and one will come
out looking like a frump and the other will look like a million dollars. The

difference is taste."
Classic dishes raise the questlon of recipe. Do It IS not Just a haphazard affair, a new dIsh. It is a

professlOnal chefs ever follow them? "I think they can pondenng on a new combination of tastes and
be likened to traming wheels," say ' Romano. "If you then a reconcJ/tatlOn with a techntcal base.
follow a good recipe carefully, you ~hould be able to -The Trolsgros Brothers
come up with something good. But as you gain more experience, you can

take off the trainmg wheels. Then you look at recipe~ to get a sense of inter-

esting combmations of ingredients, rather than a teaspoon of this or a cup of


"Most of my

Deconstructionism/Reconstructionism experimenta-

tion is rooted in the past," admits Charles Palmer. "It's involved taking what
I knew--dassic French cuisine-and applying it to great ideas in a modern
American approach. And a lot of the products you find here, from beef to
lamb, are even better than what you'll find m France, 0 it makes the exper-
imentation that much more enjoyable."

Simtlarly, Rick Bayless describes the CUisine he serves at his Chicago
restaurants a~ "classic Mexican food with contemporary twists in a contem-
porary context." Bur, in hiS opmion, "the most Important thmg we do is
und~r rand the soul of what's being done m the CUisine and capture that in
our tOod. Flavor., -hould take you ro the heart of a cuisine." Bayle believes


.. Norman Van Aken on Inspiration

In fir tl n Cdn Ll me \\ hen you're ,tuck at a red light. The crea[[ve pwce:,s
I l meth\l1!:' that I' n~r). \'er) difficult to de5cnbe. In some way" it'; kind

t 'Ike 1 I \ er" quarrel that happen in your mind. I thmk some of the
mt1,t I..reatlye moment~ I've eyer experienced made me a little ick like a

k'ver' qu,lITel-and then suddenh, mcredibly happy, once there was a res-

"lutlon to It.

It" the marnage between thought and the ingredients-and what a

child ot that marnage \\"Ould produce. I've trained myself to know my

ml!redlent' really well, so that I canhuftle them in my mind. Certain

m2reJlent' or combinatiom might trigger a memory, or trigger a hunger-

the p::l't or the future. I gue s-that wl11 _et me into motion, and then Cfe-

atlve thll1~ c::ln occur.
I thmk it wa" Pa_teur who aid that "Chance fan)f5 the prepared

mmd." There l~ a tremenJou . amount of preparatlon YOU have to ha\'e in

order for thl' creativity to ,pawn, It'- not jut like wmning the lottery,
Jean-Franc;:oi Revel did. "To a gre,H.1 degree a~ ~exuahty. fnod i,

m'l'parahle fwm Imagination." Im.1!!lIution tor me I Ju~t ,mother \\'llrd for

...rean\ Ity. '\' hen \ ou take the freed m to u > )our mngll1atl n. then the

)rtal of cream'it h.we no lode.
It' one of the true t hm ,m term f che . e ha e to h \ e .m

extraorJlI1ary e1f-e hung pn e need t be IHe t( \\alk 111[0 till n t-

ural ~arden th t CXI t ~ r It )ut ther 111 the \ rlJ- mJ. t e. JUr e, I ht-

Icall) \\C ha\e to hdp prot t that n tuml arden. be au ,chef If \\e

Jdn't, then \\c won't ha\e It-md e( p t ur own pc 11 lhtlc It tlll""

and get \litO tht: <lr 111<1.' anJ the t tur . \X t: h \\ e to hut our mll1 I ott t )

all the Imll' [hm;! . hke the f t that the Hr" nJlti nm umt' hr ken or

whdte\ er, nd I r. moment. the J) f per epn n c. n \\ moen nd
\\ e can mt: up \\ Ith orne \\ J\ pre ntlng xi and maktO th It m m·

Or) of food be omcthmg that p pi n 1m \\ lth them rCHr-Of t

teel t ~ r \ eI) Ie ng time.

111llkcn 110 remember \\hen her partner u to Fem er rerume I

fft m "I all n In India. ~ he w ned and lid, "\c 'It [ I m k

th ffltter for ~ou-the) 're re Ilh unbeh \ bIe·.... he m J th "

t Ibl fritters \\ nh htckp b I t[ 'r, en cJ \\ Ith mlllt- II ntr n to 1

n ue. • md I er \\e pur th m n th m nu m l"'.....u' JI
[If nl but th \\ nt \Cr rc II bl' n h

ence at Le Perroquet [the Chicag.o re~taurant the mho fi r t metl t ugh

us was that \\,e cou Id take any kmJ of food, mcludmg .t ese co' untry_ vie
fn.tters from Ind la, and we could kind of ele, vat.e the dish by u tng orne of

the fm. est tech ntques of handling food, which IS what the French. re bnl-

!iant at," "yo. ngerichten recalls , hh a b from
pagmg t roug
Jean-G eorges cook ook

the 1800s by Urbain Dubois and running across a recipe call ing for the unuu-

aI combm' att.on a f raisins and capers. ,"1 knew the combina,tlOn would need a
Sp,ice, F'Irst I trl'ed clove~,whi"ch didn t work, b,ut "then I tned nutmeg, , which
is kind of 'pals' with ralsms, recalls Vongenchten. I m ade a puree of the

raisins and capers, which was delicious, even if the color was n o t very appeal-

ing. In trying to decide what to use the sauce with, I knew th at capers and
skate were 'pals,' so I tned it." The unusually delicious dish that re ' ulted was

added to hiS restaurant menu.

How do chef-couple' like Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton collaborate

on de\'elopmg di.he? "I did the original menu," says Peel. "And N ancy IS the

one who goes to the farmers' market and get a lot of ingredients, and those

end up 10 dLhe , Tina [\ViLon, Campantle" chdl also comes up with a lot of

di hes, wlthm parameter-,"

The Idea J n't ah\ar~ tan \\ ith the main mgreJient. "N ancy found

some wonderful romed legume • t the farmer!>' market," recalls PeeL

"When the) pr ut, chcml.1 h n ur m,klt: the bean, cau,mg them

to become \\e ter." Peel and Ilv rton de I led t u t: a heJ of the sprouted
legume to ho\\c e a perfectl~ c k d pIC e 01 almon.

JFor JC r e Jermon clnd hanne "Iii en, \\ hO'l: rramlng as a rt b ts pre-

dat~ their emf) IOta rofe I n I cookll1g, th tnrting lint is vi Ll,d . "I
think It' ~I tOur trainmg," ay ermon. "We u e (Jur hr<lIn~ a .m empry

cam ." Th } fecclll h nno the cnp Ion f thin 10 agna, fI layered pa ta

creation I th n ne lOch thick,

la agna I filled \\ Ith mu h P,"} Killeen. "\X/e t Irted expert lllcnttn
wHh thm la dgna that wa till two or three I }cr high, but onl} three-quar-
ter of dn lOch thick. From the mltlal VI uallde ,our mmd cre tcd the dl h

and br ught It to reaht) on the plate--one \\ Ith hechamel lice glazed \\ Ith
Parme an he· e, which \\e n \\ cook to order."

The Jay' weather often di t te the klOd off, pe pi \\ant to CJt-
Cuu/l;mg and mus care alke n that a fmlshed or chef: want to cook. ObVlOU ex mpl mclud

d a p rformance depend on an e ement LfavlOg hot food m coIl we ther, md " 1l.C V r I 'I
at on wh ch are never part of the thmk the weath r I ne f th m t d mm lun t

SCI'Jfe V. nth 5 goes r.ght t re u ts tor 10 term thc m I'm m nd wh u I I I

c th t mat cookmg," V rm n Y. n Ak n "8 t

p here [10 MI mil n rI tw m £1\ (

pchl.a1nntg<tr,do.mYet~hteerCJ.haircil\l\.'!ao~ area], our perception of what is 'cold' h as def'mi,te1y
53 degrees and rainy, and we were thinking 'lamb

_re\\ 'l' "
\\'eather co~ditiO~S can also, directly affect the availability or quality

of certalO mgredlents. We certainly get rained out in terms of tuna or
shrimp bemg available," says Van A~en. "When the moon is full, the shrimp

go down, and the shnmpers Just don t go out." And across the country in Los

Angeles, Nancy Silverton pays attention to the weather in planning her

desserts. "After a recent rainy spell, I took strawberries off the menu because

I knew the strawberries weren't going to be good enough after having soaked

up all that water," she says.

M I t"The As Chris Schlesinger previously
0 er 0 nven Ionth f pointed out, it's rare that chefs have

the luxury--or challenge!--of creating out of thin air. "Getting back to the

idea of a chef as a profes ional, my job as a chef-re taurateur is to run a prof-

itable kitchen," says chlesinger. "One of the major realities facing cooks

throughout time is that it's a rare thing that a cook gee to create m a vacuum.

I go into the walk-in [refrigerator] In the mommg and I look at what I have
and what I need to u, e. Then I'll call up my pur\'eyor~, who'll tell me that

leeks are looktng great, for example, or thac striped b:h, ,e<lson jmt started.

o I'm ne\'er starting from a bbnk heet of paper-I'm ah\-ay:, tartlng from

omething. I have all the e thing to which I need to apply my experience

and knowledge tn order to [Ie them ogether."
Mary ue Milliken and ~U5 0 Fen! 'er once fouod them,elve with an

abundance of chicken in thelT walk-tn, and u d that Ituauon as an Impetus

to create a way to u e 1[, The re-lIl[ \\'a one of the m t pular di hes ever
on [heir menu: ~[Uffed Rigatoni with hi ken end Fennel. "We had rJered

_ me pasta, and the ri\!3toni had come In really lono . And I thought, Well,

maybe I can do "omethmg with the p ta and th t chicken. I wa thinking
about Italian ,ausage and pa.-.ta, which we both l ve. But people don't like

pork, and they don't like all that

fat tn U DC. Then we were

talkmo about it, and we deCided

to Qfmd the chicken up and

mea mou , like we u ed to

rna e t Le Perroquet. We deCid-

ed t ta e a P [I)' ba and tuff

the m ltl.Slde the blanched

01. hzed .... e h d to

It methm , nd .... e

A Chef's Palette of Flavors

Jean-LouIs Palladin

'This list ret1ects exactly what I've got in the refrigerator, or exactly what I'm going to receive," says Jean-

LL1uI Palladin, of those ingredients indicated in boldface. * Palladin would go into his office at 1 P.M. every

afternoon w compose the restaurant's daily specials based on such a list.


Af,al,mes Crawfish FISH RllCkfbh Skate
Anchones Eel Rouget oft Shell
Ba"s, Sea Fk,under Lamprey Salmon
Clams-Ra:c,r, Frogs' Legs Lobster Spotted Ttle
G>educk Monk ardInes Syu\l.l
Countneck Grouper ~l,mk Llyer Scallops Sturgel,n
Cod Hake Mussels Sea Urchins SW<1rdf"h
G,d Chccb Hallhut Onaga Seaweed Tuna
Crab Herring Oysters Shad R<1e Turbot
SpIder Crah Pef\\nnkl6 Shrimps
PIt-alb Rabbit Saw,age
Caul Fat Bulfal"
Capon Legs C(min MEATS quab BufLtlu Testicles
Chicken WIn_' 01::3rJ Lamb Leg' limgennes
Duck: Ugly Fnnt (T1\Lerr,)
Heart • tarrow Sweetbread~ S"pore,
Mo,wvlte Kldn 'I-Black. Whit
M<lcrets PI,F et Veal ~rar Frutt
Foie Gras Veni on
Strawberrie, Guinea Hen PI' Em Yuc\. I R,.. 1
Rasphrnes Ham F,II an Rdm(
Rabbit Bo\.: 111
D.lte Con fit Gizzard
Le<;: hK.ld
Banana Loin Bnecet tnut
GIX hem BlooJ OrIn FRUITS Per. Hnllum Pu r 10
Cranberrie Pineapples rh
ManJann Prun L.. mnn ..
Melom Lime
RilllJlS Pome 'r. rule
Grapes Orange, Plum
KUmyUdt r I n Fruit Rhurlfb

FI Pc he>

~tangoe Arne t
Papa,a, Appl


Corn P rln R t R d, hc

Cucumber r rsn.~ rRut 'I

E~lanl p Sal Ih
qua h
fennel 'n uP
G.rli, Pepper
Jcru I! m Art h h
Ginger Red
Taro Root
Hr I£m
Lemon ra Yello"
Leek P taloe 'r I
Onn f nn
Pearl OnIOn R TurnlJK

p.,tI Le"f Dill HERBS Sorrel Ti Leaf
Bad Epa:ote Tarragon Juniper Berr,es
Lavender Oregano Thyme
Chernl IdafJoram Parsley Lemon Leaf Tarragon
Chi,'e' Mint Shiso (Oba) Leaf Chive
Cd"nrre Rosenlary Chervil
Coral Sea Urchin
:'-nchLw \, Coriander Sage Smelt Roe Quince
Black C'he CUITY Savory Watercress
C1per Dill Basil Mustard
Caviar BUTTERS Watercress
Hucklebemes Heart of Palm
Garlic lime Enokis
Shallot Ginger Seaweed Salad
Green Romaine Lemongrass OctopUS Sabd
:\rugula Red Romaine Parmesan
Coll0fL1S' Mixed Lettuces OnIOns
Green Oak EndIves SAUCES Meat Juice Shallot
Red Oak Rhubarb Sahify
Basqu ·1'" Lemon Crab
Ban~ouce Red Wine
:::..Ilm n Foie Gras
[e' :-c"ilops SALADS Mache
Mesdun Quail Egg,
Mussel, ;:,bte BIbb Mlsuna
RockfiSh Chard Trevlse lobster
Eggplaf't Dandelion
Corn Mal ut Ike
Pem, P 1> Frbee
M'hrocm Fe\ &ttmM hr
Loc.lflut Cepe ~i"oi,e

.Mushroom Duck SMOKED FISH Trout
,I-le Tuna
Be.J "turgeon
Alllencan Hal but
O$etra SOUPS CiUltfl"wer
H J_ Broccolt
( Totr..lto Carrot
Cepe Cde ry R.x.t
Am hoke
Fun VeniSlln


Fre<;h '.lImon
, 11~


::melt Roe CoJRoe

AV1l1,z Fl<h

Yellow Foot
Trumpet Morel


came up II.I't"1l flenneI, which is a trad\t1pnal season 109, for au age. We
assembied the dI~'h and put it on the menu-and that dish w,,~ on the menu

for thirteen years!" ,.
Someu'mes I't's a lack that creates the need to ftnd a 'ultable ub tl-
rute. "When w. opened eAl Forn'o we started out without a wood-hurnino"
oven," recaIIs George Germon. "It was a constant source of frustration that

we didn't have the space for one in the original Al Forno, But it was some-

thing that forced us to experiment with different cooking techniques that

would allow us to give a similar flavor to certatO foods, and that experi-

mentation led us to develop grilled pizza. It's our own technique in that it

didn't exist in Italy when we experimented with it, but it was certainly

Italian in spirit." The technique, whereby pi::a dough is cooked on a grtll

to impart a unique flavor and crispy texture to the pizza, has ince been

widely copied.

Composing Dishes How does the creative proces of developing a
new dish unfold?

In coming up with a dish, the ~ tarting point for Anne Ro 'en:weig is the

ingredient' essence. "Then I go into taste memory to see what the ingredient

evokes," he a) . "And I'll either hnng it back-..{)r bring it back in an even

better incaman n." :he cite: a n example the meatinaf offered on her

menu at her econd r t. urant, The Lob,ter luh. "We interviewed cus-

tomer, and talked am ng our eh e , and found that the thmg e\'eryone
remember about tin meatlt 1f ro.... 109 up wa the tomato au e. ~ () we'll

u e different meats, and different c nin, but we alway incnrpl)rate a

tomato au e .... Im It. And mctllne .... e get vel) pldyful!" "Playful" certain-

ly de cribe "Jult I Ie 13' Mother' Me tI at," a fl tional creation incorpo-

rating ro ted pepper and ancho chtle !

Ja per White never h Itat m aym , "The tartmg point i the !Ogre-

dient . What I the focu of the dl h. ] gue I'm tr<1dltional to the extent that

it' u uall) the protem-what I the fl h or meat or caViar? Whotever It i ,

there' memmg that' the re n why I'm c kmg the dl h. And I tT) not

to let the dl h go too far away from that re n.

" 0 the fIT t thmg I do I Identify the product, and that' the theme l,f

the dl h. And I Identi~ the characten ttcs of that particular produ t-\\
the fl h fre hly caught and bled, for example? Then It Will have Itghth dtf

ferenr properti than a fl h that' not. then I go IOto the memory b nk

I already know what thi fl h taste ltlee. And I already lenow whl h t n

ingredIent go best WIth It. And then I would what th t

ent are, and what the se n f, r them. nd th n t rt d d
out of them.

'I'm tnto k\l1d l t the TV dinner arrroach-the three comrartments:

rrot 10. \ egetable, ,tarch. A lot of tlInes they can all be mixed together or
oulj be handled In different ways. But I still kind of stay with that

bec.lll,e, (or me, a r late needs to have those three elements," says White.

"So It st,l[ts with the season. And you also have to take into account

rhe occaSion. !-; It for a restaurant menu, or is it for a special dinner) Is it for

fnend~ at h'1me? Is It caual, or am I trying to be fancy? Or it might have to

d() with the ret of the menu, too," he says.

Jimmy Schmtdt is one of a number of chefs who point out the impor-

tance of deslgnmg food to complement the wine with which it is to be served.

"But in the case when you're not accounting for any kind of beverage mar-


Contrasts Between Ingredients

providing contrasts withm a dish offer rowerful opportunities for heIghten-
ing interest as well as expressmg one's point of \'Iew. Most importantly, it is a
way to achieve an all-important sen.e of balance in a dish:

Characrerutlc Spectrum Example
Aromas Famt/ [Tong Vanilla CU,[, rtl with Ctnn<lmlln
VarieJ TroPILdl trun .ll.d
Coml renC): Fany/A,mngent
Cookt:J ~tare" ~alm n wnh hOf'cr.IJI,h
Del15t{~ : POtatoc, \\Ith caviar
Famtltant'( [nexren IVC/E. pen tile
Lemon meringue rtC
Flavors: He,IVy/Llght 1 1a,heJ pOra[l)e
FlavOf "trength:
Common/Exotic \1 Ith hwdacoche
MOl tne p,td That
Sweet/Sour/~. hy/Bltter Lemon ,ole
f1cme /horne harr/Blancl
, teak with hngerltng pOtdtoe,
Temper,l ure ~ Wet/D~' Wd'<lht on lUnd u,hl
Hot dPple pie \\ Ith
't xtur Big/Little
SPILl -Hot/ \ .mtlla IU~ Lream
GfilleJ chee e .md\\ Ich

Cnspyl It

. ,e you start \\.Ith the ing. redients them elve~ . The direIction f th
nage per. , ds to 'Ho\\ do you tdke these natur In 'fedl nt
thought process then procee ,'"

nd enhance their natural beauty. .' I

a "It you take 'a f·ISh , for instance, and apply. heat to It_, y. ou II end up \\Ith

a pi.ece 0 f f'ISh . 1t'-s going to taste like fish, and It may. be tr.e~h, hut n )t much
other exc.itement I'S. a, dded to,it from a gustatory po lOt ot Vlew. T. here' not
much \'l.suaI. There'snot much.from a textural, contrast109 pOint of \'Iew.

And the flavor is kind of one-dimensIOnal. ,

"If you were to add a sauce to the dish, and either vegerahle or ,tarch.

es t h at wouId 0 (fer color" flavor contrasting, texrure-all of rho<.e dement
would preferably nor cover up the flavor of rhe fish, but would enhance it. For

exampIe, combinmg. the crunchines' of snow peas with salmon woulJ make

the flesh of the fish eern ilkier 10 contrast. LtkewI:>e, a more aciJlc;]uce
with the salmon would balance out ,ome of the natural sweetne,~ and f;]tty

characteritic~ of the -almon.
"Then, you might grill the ,almon, or pan-roa r it, \)r dust it With ~rlce)

and sear It. With each one of th()e different techniques, you're qUite able to

bnng out more fla\'of., or potentlall) even c,lr,nneli:e some of the natural

sugar 10 the pre cnce of acid and oudd cll1 ,1d,jltl<lOai flavor profile,"

Lind ey -here belie\ e the me klO f Cl ntrats m,lke fnr ,1 glX>J

de ert. "Our focu I- a\\\, on th f1, \or , teo run.' , and temperatures In ,

de~ ert," he } ...~. e want t let pc pie know \\ hat really good stuft t,l te
lIke, IOLe ~ e\\Cl) [th r ef) t f ch In! eem ro he the tlavor tanJarJ

Ir [In re In.! < de err, a or :lin~ to :here, I tLl [Ill!.! the

(rUiL ")' u hl\e to knO\\ ho\\ It b~h \c ," he y. "What hdrpen when It'

cooked or pureed? Does It tum bro\\n? The fruit ta te different (film year to

\earandfr mfanner to (armer. E\ef) }e r\\henapple c on t rt ,wclmn

hack one of ev f) tvpc ot apple. nd then cO{ k and t;I [ th 'm. (lOod c.ltmO

apple. are not ah, a\ eood cookmg applc . Rcd Ddici u < pple , for eXclmple,
don't ha\e a lot oftlavor "hen cooked. We ee whi h on \\e like the tex-
ture of, and which combme well \\ Ith other ,"

'ext come "thmkmg about all the po Ihtlltle for wh It that fruit
could be'" '7 here, ,, omethmg will come out ( f thc hlu, nd
other time H 'II \\ork alat tI.tC. Do
puff~'. vou \\ant to make a tart? What bout ere m
.)U hez PanI e) becau e we don't ha\ c .t hood 0\ cr
We c.a n ' t f. here


the pastf), ection, and we don't have a brOiler \\c c n't do thtn' !Ike

gratin. It IImlttng not having thu e p< Inlhue."

b'en though Chez Pani se Joe n't ha\ e a hqu( r h en
IS a110\\ cd to use hard liquor 10 the kitchen, and here wIll t

that freed m b, sen 109 pear herbet with grappa, r rr

[lnn her1- t \ 'Ith fr IInbol'C. "AnJ I ilkI.' Kir'>ch un pe,lch ,pe,,.u, ,trawlI.'erry
( r rl pl>ern ,herhet," ~ ht're ,IY'. '

\\ hlt about Lhoull.lte 1 "Chocolate i, a real standhy 111 the Winter here
\\hen the IIPllle' ot tnllt ,ue 1(1\\'," ':ly,> here. "In coming up with ne\~
d~, crt', we run experiment.. In the kitchen a lot, te~ting recipe . T here's a lot
of prc"ure to COI11t' up with ne\\' Jessens, both pressure from our cllstomer~

and ,df-Ilnpo t.'d."

Wht'n compO'In!; a Jbh, Gary Danko starts hy a,king himse lf, "What

I' the mam tn(!redit'nt here? What b the center of the plate? b it a roast egg-

plant \\,Ith lamh Ie tn, or I~ it mast lamb loin With eggp lant? Ideally, I wi ll

Lhoo e h the ,ea on.

"When I cook with lamh, because I take all the fat and connective tis-

,ue ott the meat, I have to omehow in,ulate that meat. In the 'prang, I'll take

dried morel mu,hnxlms and powder them, and use that with bread crumbs
and aromatic" omons , ~arlic, parle), thyme, and make a very delicate crust.

I'll 'ear the lamh in a lIttle bit of hot oil. cool It dO\m quickly, hrush It With

e!!!! white, and then roll it in this cru t. From that, I'll decide. 'What am I

!!OLn!,! to put thi on?' I'll thtnk, 'Well. lamb like to !!ra:e on fennel. and fen-

nel\ jut coming tnto ea on, <;0 I'll make a really Imple ft.'nne! compute...·
Danko -ay . "Then I'll thll1k, 'Do I want till to ~o more ;"1ellitcrranean, ur

what ,t ,Ie do I want to take thl m?' In 10) mmd. I'll thmk Ea ter, Ea ter bun-

nie , ham, a para!!u , eggs-the e are cert. In thmg from m) chlllh d th,lt

I remember. Thl I the indl\'ldu I t} Ie 0 the chef omm out here-ba 1-

cally, where you were born, what }our Ii e °penen e .He, et ceter 0 If I tr;w-

eI • nd I ee. dl h that' 4ulte 1I1tere tin , .1I1d I lake the phd ph} an I It

blend with mane, then I ml ht In l r rate tho e flavor 0 ( r I'll take a pe-

(lflC CUI me-I love;"1 and Indl n f and I \\111 u e the I ve of

tho e pICe In a much m re deb ate manner In the food th, I prep.!re at The

RIt:-Cariton I mm) Room."

What' [h~ eoal \\ hen bUll Ian!:! a n \\ dl h~ Some of the best dIshes m the world have no
":lmpliclt'y," a~ RICk B,,} Ie ," nd \\ holene of tla- more than three major components

\or and textur~. Recent! , I kept en l)Ura 109 a u -Lyd S re

chef [) pull r. ck n n appcmer of !:!nlled all p , and t t.!ke e\ I) thm!:!

aw I} e cept \\ hat \\oull naturan~ meld re ll} \\ell \\ Ith the I a It \\

W1m Thl \ a}, \\ hen the daner tarted at It, there \\ould reall be

( mpleten bout l.allop, nd a counterpoint 0 thl Ib lutel} delaClou

I , nd then me ther element th It \\ ul ta) In the bac !!TOund the

el m m u need d to lie It all to eth r. m napa c.lbb ~e and l:Uttlll It
h t \ e end d up \\ Ith \\, t Iktng qUite h )t, putun JU t a tin lit

r II thm, h ling a Illet unlliit \\

m ' In that h t klllet, nd then putting th nap (. "b I" m .10.1 JU t

tO~'ln,C It ~t- I ht 1 it j'u,t barely wIlted the l1ap.l It went on th pi It
ed '- ,.,
(lI: t 1t'" ...t

1nd then th e r e ""t t the cllnlponent, were bUilt on tl 'P 01 that, .1'1' Rwlc
)'llU could eat It and it telt ,l~ It
II every thll1g \,<1 111 perf

, \,Y'\-lhe n i' t " ne\\'a~ uJO ,


Ll,a Iance, lL'U t '~ll U dl :In't reall v even know what thdt W,1,,; It Wd" the kmd f
L ,

baekground at.:aI'n•'t which all these other t1a\'ors and texture, worked th m-
se Ives"ou t' That's. ,'1 .good ex' ample of how we are able tu build dl'. he" here, and

\\'hat our goal is, basically,"

Undersrandmg and always respecting the e,senee of the in[!rediem I

key, Mark Peel says, "Let's say you start with a quaiL A quail is a little thing.

So I would always put something substantial with quail, to kll1d of buiklit up,

It needs more support than, say, a pnme rib. I might put some parsnIp P lta-

toes or mashed potatoes With it, as kind of a ba~e,

"A lot of di,he~ have a ba,e-lIterally, a phy,ieal b,be, "omethinl:! th,lt'

oomo to kind of holJ the di.h up. It'" ~omething that' going to accept the t1a-

<0- '" pull everything together. For example, we ser\'t~ sweet Pllt,HI'e, With

\'or and

babr chIcken, whIch come. with a garlIc cllnnt ,md (",cawle, The sweet pota-

to puree accept the ,harp, hitter t1avOf Ilf the t.: c,lrole and the !;drilC (onflt

and the JUice that. re c mll1g out 1)1 rhe chicken, And the ~weetncss con-
rra~t' WIth the bltteme ~, and the ~. rll rl.'.dh fl)llnJ~ out the tld\,llr of the

,weer t.lto." "And .111 th e ft te tur .1re tCXIlife thelt peopltc re.dly

lo\'e," dd n Ih crt n f the !:!drIlC ,In"l the (lltne

of the tx ItO 11 Iml melt t eth r,"

Juggling Flavors noTh _rt: t r the mple.'lt) t lil he ,th m rc
fIa\ or c mh 'r propertle that IOU t he Jll ' ,led

In ther, J rm Idm • II nt) ch tllen 'e tor a eh t.

10 (ur h' u," y Jllnm\ c.hmlJt. c. nd \\!th

m..:r dlent , I Ie thtn .' 1 II, I n ' .ood, mo' hetter. threc' gre It,

~ ur' tern I , nd I I nt tt" n I d m't nc e HlI).I 'rec. I thlllk th It

,<the fILl\ hem n th 10 reJlcnt h< \e to tl t ether. I don't thtnk UT

palate t te them II mdt\ Idu II \X h n ou Jrtn . gb of \\ me, )< u'rc

mg all th \\ me. Y u'n: m on n \ r, e\ 'n though It' m de ur

n n LI \\1: , Ith I lil h, the fld\' r hI uld c me t cth-

Tto ere t e 1m I e, th It h\ !:ond 1m g . u need to u e upp Irttn t1-

t rna e that \\ rk.

H \\ to mIke ure u are ahl to I {, lrnplt h thdt! "I remember h tr

mg a lilt ktnd man Ie theoT), \\ hercb I }OU \\ 'r c m!:omm \\010 rt:

olen th t Jldn't re II) , t I ether, u hid t h<l\ e I thlrJ m r d. nt th t

related t , th 111 rJ r t tie the dl h tether, \ lu hI 111 r

Put n th r \\ ,If u I k t 10 r d. or ttk h

mer re tim that m re re tw or n

lJ_t'llr<_'e (ierm,)n recou"nts an experience that he says he'll never forget,

arIIrILh(''UIeI·nnhl1,hE'abnujgtdlaIpnowJwawserh1"f1ou1 l mt1uence o n him as a cook. "I was viSl't'109 some peo-
had a four- .
the kttchen
or flve-year-old daughter They weren't
, '

and the little girl pulled a chai'r over to

the ,W\'e and started heating up a pan, say109 she was going to make toma-

to ''vALlr'" he remembers. After getting" the girl's assurance that her parents

allo,\'ed her to do so, German says he watched her heat some butter in the

ran, then take out a knife and cutting board and chop some tomatoes. She

cooked the wmatoes m the butter about three minutes, and then added a

httle salt and a little cream. "Would you like some?" she asked German,

\\'ho roltte!y rephed, "Sure!" Once he tasted it, German says he was

abolutely Hoored. "It was unbelievable," he says. "I couldn't believe that

something tasted as good as it did with so few mgredients."

AI Forno's menu features a potato ,oup that's equally simple. "It has

just four ingredients: potatue~, oniom, butter, and water, That's it," says
Germon. "And when our cook ' fir~t made it, they kert asking, 'What's the
next ~ter?'" Johanne Killeen rememher~, "They found it lmrnssible to

beIteve that anythinu wonJerful CQulJ re ult (wm four mgreJient·!"

there are ju,t two. ~o what \ au pair an mgrl.'dlem-.ay, ~inger-\\'ith
derend~ on how many ch raeter are on the t l!!e," t.'xpillm I 'orm.1n Van

Aken. "In the latter ca,e, )oU 101 ht adJ m T to a 'Imple vmm;rette of (lil

and an aCldie component. An Ithe three are quite dlf~ rent from one anoth-

er. If there were many ch.uacter on the L1-e, It m12ht be iI mger-,oy vmai-

gTen~ With ~nlle I chicken an i m drame!t: d pbntam , The n!,unance
betw~en th~ carameh:ed, _rn ky planwm nd the 0 ' dnd [he pungenq' ( f
(he gln~er workmo ,2am ( the meat) Implen of tht: chIcken-I'm thtnk-

In':! of them all ( I '10 _ t _ ther, and \\ hat the} 're , bit: to ay to e ch other.

"I fmd the number 01 10 red lent n pbte to 1e a common II Cll -
Ion In tht da} ilnd ge, The Cah~ mla cod movement really ,celll' to .ay

to It elf, 'Well, Impitclty I reall where (h punt) lte-.' The nu!!ht 10 k

at me 0 m~ re Ipe and ,a), 'Oh, (hi' I' toO omph ated.' But then I'll

100 at a CUI me that I much older than m t of the cui,me, of the world,

It 'C China' or orne Thai Ubme, nd a), Look who t (he) '\'e done after
m n mOTl: Ccntune 0 1\ liI:dtlOn, m tcrlll' of the e JI parate

In edlco You'll I k at melr recipe nJ ou'l! ee twelve mgredlent m

And er a pen (tim, )U might thm - that) uu'J get It do\\ n

r three mgrcdlcm no i-c(. me qUite m\l1lm lit tiC, But the

rt:\er e I' truc III the e 111"re ,U1Llcnt lUI me . And It' n t b ~ 1I It

hodgep()JL!e ...
Br,ILlle) Lll;Jen agrees. "S(lIllCwne )'<1u'l1 h<1\ e ,1 dl h th,1£' too he V}

a nS(ltto th,lt'.; tno nch, or a ~auce that's <1vCrrcduLeJ-and you feel re, 11\ tcr-

nble ,Ifter \'llu\'e eaten Lt. It'.; U'.uaJly l'>ec,lu e It\ one-dllnen Lon, I," he LY.
"If there II'ere two or three dimensions, It would be ~parkll1g up jour t te

buds imtedd. That', why you need the blendmg of flavors that wtll t'lke ,\\1.1)

some of that richness and stir up the taste buds and cleanse the ralate .J latle

bit. That's where a cook can put hLs or her creativity mto rlay. You know
when you ha\'e a had l'>ottle of wine, where the fir~t sir might make you. ,I),

'Wow!' but then it's son of flat after that? It\ llne-dlmensional. And It\ nl)

difference from a meal that'~ one-dimensional. I like to go tor two llr three

dimemiol1S, but yet without getting ton cnmrlex.

"For examrle. I did a fOlt' gYm dl ..h the other night With FUJi apple"

which I'J [(la'ted and marinated \\ Ith a little l'>,llsdmlc vinegar. They Were

,till cn,p, With a bite to them. ,md 1H.!hth c,u.1meit:ed," says OgJen. "The
richness at the [Ole gra~ \ .1' h,II.II1LeLl by the £,Irtncss of the ,Iprle, '0 you

walked ,m'd) fr III the dl,h thmkmg, 'Th,ll \\'.1 re,llly gre,It' instl:.ld l)( 'Th~lt

W<1 really hea\}.' Bctlancm!! t te ,Illd tl.' (UrI:' purb your palate mstcacllJt

Icavln!! It coated nd Hah."

Achle\ 11\ 1 hal n e, \\hatc\cr th p lrtl IIlar Lh,HdCtl'fl tiL ui ,I dl,h,

I the val for RI B. Ie "If I el'\ fn i Ii h, I ill", Y !Ike tl) p,ur It w1th

an aCldK c m nent," he pI lin . "An \\ h n I crvc olllethll1!! CXlltlC, I
ltke t pur It \\lth m thm' \ ell kn wn,"

"I'm lbl t thr \\ III an ,I nt," J} ,tnq Ih I:rtOl1, "hut I c,m'l

al\\d} (m up \\!th the \\h I I h L rk /Peell ,mel Tm,1 /Wtl'on,
Campmd' heO \\111 take It t I <.:ert lin 1'0111£, IIld OlTlCtlllle I'll .ty, 'Wh~
d n't }OU al d thl ' lOd that' m\, l( ntnbutl 11," Pe I char, tt:tlZt:' hi

WIfe' c ntnhutl n "t pacall} tf)'1n to add IIUI crunch (( thmg ." lIo.... !

"Fa\ bean," a\ Pe I' r bre d rumb ," the) }, 11m t Imult, neOl! h,

.. om tim for me, cre lin dl hIS WIt) W m thlll that I rc I-
I, low," 1 Ihenon "Wh n I cillO Ime \\lth the c mblOHlon 0(\\ rm

apple au e and old re m. I Id I \\1 hed that I could el'\c that It the

re taur, nt, but n bod} \\ould bu} It If th } a\\ It next t a pi cc 01 t\\ nn-

(1\ e-la er ch IC late cake. But it' proh hI} one of the most xqui ttl' mht-

natl In 10 the \\orld. a I came up With a de crt that \\ent \\ Ith It, t mbell

I h thl perfect c mbmatt n, nd th t \\a vinegar pie. m bod had m

me \\h t th c II a che pie, \\hl h h \m' r In It, and I hked I[ bit

\\ n't \ In I) en ugh (( r me-but that \\ rtIn ' POInt

I nl' l'r lake J n , c rtalnl n t frUit de rt r n tI

d I 1\\ hk th m t be m \\ h r hetw n sav'Orv I

IO\'e acidIc thing with apples. Cold cream provides a contrast in tempera-
[Ure _)ou don't want ice cream with everything-and is also neutral, in a
sense. it . rt of gives your palate a place to rest."

Visual Presentation "The first way you encounter a dish is
through seeing it with your eyes," points

l)ut Dieter Schomer. "And over the last thirty years, we've seen chefs making

mountain and monuments on a plate-and they're so impractical. I always

hate it when people cover the whole plate with cocoa. Even a little bit of a

I>ree=e when you have a white shirt on, and .. .forget it!

"With nout'elle cuisine, it would take half an hour to decorate the plate,

and by the time you got the food, it was cold," says Schomer. "A lot of pre-

sentation was done just to show off, and I have always been against just show-

ing off."
Nancy Silverton believes that most diners are very heavily influenced

by the elaborate presentation of a dish. "Ninety-eight percent of the popu-
lation probably sits down and ays, 'Whoa! That's incredible! That chef is
o talented!' Tho e are a lot of the chef who get the attention from the
pre and are making the wave the e day aero the country. But because
of that, we're getting a lot of muddled food. People who don't know how to
do a lot of tho e very technical thing correctly are trying, and they're just
falling on their face . It make it difficult for me to find place to eat the e

"The more whim ical or the more complicated you get with your food,

the more you have to do ahead of time, and the more you sacrifice the flavor.

No matter what anybody ay, you can't do it all. All you can do Ii la

minute..." (" have to be able to do in a minute," quip Mark Peel.)
Silverton continue, "The more complicated a di h, the more spectacular a
dish, the more tale it' going to taste. There' no way anyone can prepare all

the element the arne day."
"I think we've really achieved a great presentation when a dish looks as

though that' they way it ought to be-and hould alway be," says Mark Peel.

ilvenon agrees. "When we do it right, and we've done what we set out to

do, you see the dish and you think, 'Yes, that' how that dish hould always
be and why would anyone ever do it any different?' That's when we've hit the


George Germon agrees. "I think that food should look as natural as ~

ble. And 1 hke food to look fresh, like it was born on the plate," he says. "I
don't hke tall food, squeeze bottles, drizzles, or sprinkles." In terms cJ the pre.
IentatlOll of food, he says, "Our an backgrounds are the best thinp that ever

hawened to us. Presental:aon coma naturally to us. It' part cJour vocahuLary. •

Compo. nfl _ D

E\'en If you know what look you'regomg after, It's ~ot alway ea y to
communlL'ate It to those who will have to execute .it. "I tind that the mo t
difficult dung to do IS to impart the concept of 'tree form .'" s a y~ Patuck
O'Connell. "If you draw something on graph paper, cooks are very comfort_
able and say, 'I can follow this-this goes here and this goes there .' But to
me, that's what we call 'tense' food. So I ,aid to this young man the other
day, 'What we're trying to do here with this plate is to make it look like you
picked the asparagus and you waltzed through the garden, and a little breeze
blew the stuff across the plate.'

"We have dishes where sauces are thrown, and some cooks think that
means splat! No, no, no, no, no. It's a very delicate balance. If you're gOing
to make It look wild and cra:y, you're going to have to have the element of
total and complete control and precision there with it to balance it out. Some
cooks don't understand It yet, what a dish is saying-[that it's] saying a whole
bunch of things," O'Connell says.

"l\.fichel Guerard has a very ltght touch, and since working with him in
France, I've always carried that with me," says Michael Romano. "He taught

me that If, plate loob ruo full, it's unappealing. The presentation of his food

has a ccrtdin airine', and lightness to it, and I try to remain inspired by the
same deltcarene ."

[\'en , mon!.! leaJtn!.! eh ·f" there IS ,1 Wide array of optnion as to what
con mure gre t pn: em tl n. "There ,1\\\ ay~ has ro be height in a dish,"

argue J lLhlm. pll h, l. "There h 1 to be a fllCLl~ In the way It\ placed on the

plate. A dl h hould be a VI ual eXI eflence for the customer. It was with

{Frenh chef Jdcyue J laxlmlO that I Ie rned pre,entation, how to get some-
thing t I - perfect."

n the [her h nd, JO}CC G Id rem ,y, "I don't helieve in tall fooJ.

There arc me cil he th t \OU have to cr.l h In order to eat. I don't helleve

In quce:c hi: nle , an 1 I d n't belteve 111 Imlc lOb of alice dfOunJ the run of
a plate. And I J n't \loam m} cu turner to Ic.lvC With par ley or cocoa on
their leeve be a e omeone In the kitchen' g ne cr<l:Y .rnnklml1 It all

O\er the rIm of a plate.
"I d n't thmk ou houlJ put an) thin~ un a plate that doe,n't rel,ne to

the dl h," he a} . "Wh, would an)one want a r emary branch tantilOg ur

in the middle of their plate? Are you uppo ed to edt It? Pick yuur teeth With
it! If not, then \\, hat on earth I I t dOing there?"

- orne chef feel that the n tural heauty of their ingredient pro\,ld

them \\ ith a leg ur, In tenn of attract!, e pre cnt,ltlon. "I J n't bUild r hi-

tecrural C • but I do look veT} much at dram tl pre enwttun " I)
• onnan \an Aken. "It' kmd of ea h m certam re peet , bell . Wt: W rk

\\ nh uch be utlful olm with the tr >plcaht} ot where I'm It [MI md [

"t Ifl' r btc- \\ Ith technicnlnr-ltke opportunltie,. IIave edIble garnIshes. I want every little p,ece of
10' < ]

Ir·' (It autumn,lI-lt, r lot nu' , In many resp ect', and it greenery on a piate t be there for a purpose
nl{1dc tIl re,more .A n can work With three
CIn 11 S{l j I - Alice WatHrs 0

llr fllur c,1I{1rs , rut they re .,uc~ strong pnmary c.olors that the plates Will seem

nearI,' electriC In tcrms ot their presentation.
"One {,f my key dishes IS my rum and pepper painted fish, with a mango

m(1h(l, \\hlch b nearly rlack from thiS rum paint that I make, on the fish, in

"rark reltef to the brilliant mango puree-pure, simple color. Then I have this

bright green rorlano that's stuffed, with the stem still coming off of it. So
the~re are reall\' only three colors with a little bit of hme and a little bit of

riPped t1owers, but they're all so different that it allows for an extraordinari-

II dramatic rresentation.

"I can do that becau,e of my raw materials here, which are not affect-

ed by me as the chef. but are affected by Mother Nature and her extraordi-

nary ralette of color,. I can select these thmgs and put them together In very

natural ways that will look very bright to people who are coming from areas

thilt rerhar don't have these thmgs so much Within their larder.

"One of the mo t important thmgs m food is texture," ,ays Van Aken.
"I think that one of the rea~om we regan tacking thmg, m a naroleon-Iike

way wasn't really ro pre the phalltc o pp rtUl11ty but to offer a chance for the

fork, as It deltvers an mtru,ion to .1 pre entan n, to get it 'tratum of textures

that )\1U'1l rush through, a that when }OU get your fmc, you'll have your lit-

tle btt of mashed rota toe and yo ur little bit f crunchy I' taW or plantain

chip and your den e meat)' pr tem (r III \ our (I h o r pork or whatever in one

nice bite, so that when It\ m your m uth, It' like, '\'l/o\\'!' It\ all kind of

bouncll1g around in there and offering thl ch fdal o pportunity, as opposed to

)U5t a note."

"Pre entation h a on Ileran n," admit Altce \X' ter , "I d n't like for

everything to be tlat on a plate-and 1d n't like, oviou ly, for everyth1l1g to

be tall. But, aga1l1, I ltke to rely o n the cl Ie. I hke the look of lime-green

fa\'a beans with a little pl11k pr luna or alami, 1 love those color" And 1

love all the maroon color of (ood, like the radicchIO that look like pnrrot

tuhp ,all tuped, It' iu t fanta t1 . I love all the color' of tllmatoe, together,

mcludmg the unlikely one -the art of brown one and yellow one. There',

a \\ hole palette to be can Idered, and I'm very 1I1fluenced by that, by color.

But, 0 VIOU ly, ta te I number one; I would never use the color if It didn't

tel te ood,"

Mary ue Mllhken agree that her iir,r priomy 111 a di h i ttl teo

thmg I more 1m ftant to me than h w that (ood' g01l1g to ta te," he

"For me, 1 hke my alad to have every ingle leaf covered with exactly

h n 'ht m unt f dre mg. Th leave ren't g01l1g to tand up,"

cp ng 8 o

"We do lots of great sauces that are very thin," adds Susan Fent~er.
"And they don't look that great on a plate; they don't look nearly a, good a
something that's reduced and sort of demi-glace-like, because they don't coat

the plate as well."
The problem, it seems, comes when taste is sacrificed to appearance.

"Now there are some people, like [Charles] Palmer, who do vertical food
beautifully. But people will always go to see the latest madness," says Jeremiah
Tower. "When 1see an army of peas around a plate, 1know that they've been
handled and are probably cold. In terms of the appearance of a dish, I find few
things more beautiful than a bowl of sliced white peaches, maybe with some

raspberry cream on top."
Lindsey Shere admits that when it comes to desserts, "I'm a minimalist

at heart. I'd rather see a really beautiful combination of colors, flowers, and
leaves on a plate, rather than fireworks. I find it often detracts from the taste
of desserts. When you put too many things together, not everything can be
perfect. The caramel can get tacky sitting on the plate while the dessert is

constructed, or the cookies can get soft. Another thing I don't like is seeing
an even number of things on the plate; I prefer seeing, for example, three sor-
bets, which 1think appear, more halanced."

"One of the mo't important things in any dessert is texture," add~
Franr;oi Payard. "There i nothing more bonng than a dish with no texture.

aEven in ,\ JI,h like oeufs III nCI!!C [floating Islands], which emphaSIZes the

softne" of the fluffy egg white, there i" carame!t:ed sugar to add CrISpiness."

Pa\'arJ rec.lll proudly that j leu York Times food writer Florence
Fabncant had p,ud him cl compliment at a recent food event. "She pomted
out that 111 my de erts I wllrk more on tla\,()[ than on structure," says Payard.

"\Xlhen )"llU think aOOm It, you rc,JIi:e that when your grandmother made a
good dl,h, what made it ~OOJ \\,a,n't how It looked but what It tasted ltke. Fllr

example, a floating Island de,~ert ha, no structure. But when your grand-

mother made it, ho\\ wa, it? Perfect!"

A Final Word No matter how many gUldel1l1e, are offered on h"w to

compo. e a Ji,h, In the end m heauty he' ( nil' in the

eye of It beholder--or taster! Knowing this, Rick Bayle, say", "I get re,lll~
fru,trclted with a numher of my cnob rhe,e lay., who want me tlo explain to
them, why? 'Why?' 'Why Jo YOli J( l rhl~?' 'Why Jo you do that?' Wh<1[ I uStl-
Personally, I have ceased countmg the nights ally amwer b, 'Well, just taste it.' And I let them ee If
spent m the attempt to dIscover new combma- they can internalize H. Sometllne chef.., need tort (If

l s when completely broken WIth the fatIgue of commune with the lI1gredlent HnJ then t~ te th tll1 al

vy day my body ought to have been at rest di h to kno\\ whether they've gotten It n 'ht or n t I

-Augu e Escoffer teel very trongly th, t }Oll Jll t ha\e to til t It mJ


n"Cdll'~ he lo\"e, the \'ery, \'ery deltcate taste of turbot,e] reml'ah T,ower can't en•
. .
l!" CI)

lin,l"-lI1e ramn!! It , with anything" m'ore complicated than a h IIanda'lse sauce .uc
an\.I ,,)me httle hoIled potatoes. With the hollandaise, t here's an enn,ch ment cI a,

at' the thH)r wIthout adding lots of distracting flavors," he sAays, dn T,ower :E

thmb that pl)rk doesn't need more than a sprinkling of black pepper: HI

re!te\'~ strllngly in the marriages of flavors!"

When we asked leading chefs how they knew that certain flavors or

foods would complement each other, the usual response was something along

the 11l1es of, "You just know, After tasting so many different foods and food

combinations, you store the ones that work in your head. When you've accu-

mulated enough, you can even get pretty good at predicting which combina-

tions you haven't yet tasted will work, based on the ones you know that
work'. "

Wondering how we mIght shortcut the process of gaining decades of
fir~thand experience led to our research and development of the following

charts. Based on our conversatIons with chefs as well as our researching some

of the best respected culinary books (including those written by leading

American chef, and recommended by them as critical to an aspiring chef's

education), we compiled a treasure of food combinations that are known to


How to use them? 'X'hen your wrong pOint for composing a dish is a

particular ingredIent, you may wl,h to can the It [ for inspiration for a pos-

Sible mmrlement or complement', \\'hlle man\' In!:redICnt, are available
vear-round, ~ea onal peab dre noted for cert,lIn Item~. In aJJition, in some
instance~, rreferreLI cookmg technique ,m: mdlcated. You might also he

inspired hy the example , ofhow our chef, ha\ e combined the ingreuients anu

complements on their own menus.

How not to u,e them? Y()U haukl remember that your own palate is

paramount. There may be orne combmati n ll,ted that are not to your per-
onal likmg, anu there are certamly combm:1nom not ll~ted that work as

welJ-or even bener-than tho,e mc1udeu. Your goal should be to cook to

ple<ue your elf and th e for \\ hom \OU co k-and not in conformance with

an) chart m any book!

Jean-L UI Pallaum claim thar fnou ratring j,n't difficult, given the

vellr he\ penr cookmg. "Many combmartom eventually hecome scconu
nature," he clllm~. ~o how Joe ,I le~yexrerienced chef uevelop the same

n e of wh t wor - ! B~ refernn!.! [() the exten~i\'e flavor combintng charb on

the foll \\ mg pa re , whICh brin!.! Into one C(Jnvenient place, for the fir,t time,

he mtulUH' knmdedge \!ained over centune h ~ome of the worlu', greate,t

1m r mm ,J culleu from tntcrVIC\\ ,mu menu,> of contemporan chef,

nJ r hi t neal rc e rch.


ALMONDS coconut raISin...
cream nce
apples plums ...trdwbernes
apncot, prunes

ANCHOVIES ()nlon...
par... ley
eggs, hard-h(,iled
odriic (Fall)

~ CIder ll.ltmcal

APPLES cinnamon r.ll1!.:i."
cl \"t"
almmd pCdr,
IpplCjol k ( pepper, black
bacon pl!:!noit
r mhern
bld\..khcrn rcam I ItchIII
l-lue che unmt , hi prunc
bro"n ugar u tard ..ju.m. e
l-utter utch J I t:: ral ...n!>
caramel nll r n ema!)
ca la rum
'IT h au'rkraut
eelcn au I 'e
lemon hell")
chee e ldetr I
hc lOut ur en: 1m
mil'l ru
m )Ia U'H
nut, t: IX'Clall\ aim nd vanilla
or pecan
\In' 'aT

"IOC, red


Many 0 these combinatIOns are considered clasSIC and are espeoaHy wide prac
bced These are ndtcated by boIdtaw type

ARTICHOKES hollandaise sauce (Sprmg)
aloiI mayonnaIse sausage
anchovies Mornay sauce thyme
bacon mousseline sauce tomatoes
bast! mushrooms truffle" white
bay leaves olive oil vinaigrette
bread crumbs onIons wine, white
butter Parmesan cheese
cheese, goat bake
chervil parsley braise
cream perrer, e-pecially black marinate
fennel and red TOast
garlic remolLiade auce
hazelnut' <ait steam

ArtIchokes, Carrots and ZucchinI WIth Lemon and Dill-Joyce Goldstein

Baby Artichokes Fned WIth Lemon, Roast GarlIC and Shaved Parmesan

-JIMmy 5chrr dt

ArtIchokes Stuffed th Bread Crumbs AnchOVies Garltc and Parsley
-AI ce Waters

ARUGULA (Summer)

avOCil 1 lemon pel:dfu

hurter h\c(11 P1Cn(l1t
carp, eel P( l(,Utle,
P nne n ehe r,lvlu!t
chee • blu walnut
r ta

Arugu a and Rad cch 0 w th Gorgonzola Pear. and Walnut

--5 sa Fe 9 S"

App e and Arugu a Sa ad With Lemon and Capezzana Olive OJ!

-Geo ge Ger on 0 e

Arugula Salad With Smoked Pears Sp ced Pecans and Sftlton Cheese
-C Sc I'Ig

Avocado Papaya and Arugu a Salad- Jer a Tow r

Meyer Lemon and Arugula SOup-A Wa! r

BANANAS cream (Win r)
cream cheese
alcohol custard pa~ll n tnllt
almonds eggs pecans
apricots fruits, especially tropical pmeapple,
bacon (e.g., mango, papaya. pralme~
brandy pineapple) raspberne'
brown sugar rum
butter gm SOllr cream
Calvados ginger strawberries
caramel honey sugar, brown or whitt:
cardamom ice cream vanilla
chicken Kirsch yogurt
chocolate lemon
cinnamon lime bake
coconut malt broil
Cognac maple , yrup poach
nut" Tat('

"Rum can bnng up the flavor of bananas "-Fran~ols Payard
Banana- Toffee French Toasl-Susan Fenlger & Mary Sue MillIken

Honey-F(led Bananas WIth Caramelized Gmger Sauce-Susanra Foo

Banana-Rum Ice-chns Sc~ es ng6'

Grilled Sausage Skewers WIth Fresh Apncots, Jalapenos, and Chlpotie

Vmalgrette and Whole Gn/l-Roasted Banana-Ghns Scr'eSJnger
Roasted Banana Kugelhopf Double Dark Chocolate SemI Freddo

-Lydia Shire

Cuban Banana-Rum Custard Tart-Norman V n Aken

almonJ, rea~
cabhage Citrus
ham girlie
cOriander glllger
BASS fennel leek



mint potatoes bake
mu~hrooms thyme braise
tomatoes fry
,llive oil wine, red


basil eggplant roast
cream mustard
dill olives


avocados creme fraiche oranges
bacon peppers
cheese, especially goat epazore nee
chiles, e pecially serrano salt pork
garlic sour cream
chives ham hocks tequila
cilantro jalapeno tomatoe
cumin Madeira


Frijoles Refntos: Black Beans Fned with Garlic. Omon and Epazote. Topped
WIth Queso Fresco-Rick Bayless

Habaiiero Black Bean Soup With Avocado-Shnmp Salsa-Mark Miller

BEANS,FAVA mushrooms (Sprlng-Summer)

bacon olive oil savory
butter parsley pinach
Peconno cheese
CIlantro thyme
roeemary vinaigrette
garbc salt


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