Cooking with the seasons: chef’s creativity insights
Back from a great two days of conferences at La cité de la réussite 2010 event in Paris, on the theme “Re-inventing everything?”. At one of the conferences, Michelin-starred chefs Alain Passard and Ferran Adria shared insights about their creativity.
Passard uses cooking with the seasons as a way to frame the creative challenge in a natural and meaningful way. In a world where globalisation means we can get pretty much anything any time of year, Passard stays true to cooking with the seasons by picking fruits and vegetables from his own garden.
Sometimes Passard raises the challenge by imposing on himself to cook only vegetables that have a common colour theme. He says: ‘Creativity comes from taking the time to observe a carrot with one’s five senses, and letting it happen.’ While one would think that taste and smell are the senses that really matter for a chef, Passard’s colour challenge is a form of sparking creativity through lateral thinking. Building on the idea of letting it happen, fellow chef Adria remarks that ‘seeking to be creative is a sure way to fail.’
Running a top restaurant is an exhausting business, physically and mentally. The level of creativity that is required to stay at the top cannot be sustained without some form of creative rest. To recharge, Adria closes down his restaurant 6 months a year. Passard works all year round but finds that cooking with the seasons is a way to rest the mind: ‘I think tomato only four months a year, then the idea of tomato takes a rest in my mind as it shifts to something else’. A method reminiscent of the ancestral practice of crop rotation and green manure that peasants in the Middle Ages used to let the soil regenerate itself. As it founds its way in modern top-class cuisine, it offers yet another illustration of the innovation concept of making new with old.