Culinary Musings on Achieving Excellence
May 6, 2009 by admin
Cooking by definition is what happens when you apply a temperature change and/or chemical change to an edible object (ingredient). The relationships between ingredients and a controlled environment, as well as exposure to other ingredients, are the building blocks to knowledge. Its the understanding of these relationships that inspire innovation. From the simplest forms of manipulation such as butchering a piece of meat to accent its appeal in flavor, texture, and visual attributes; to raising the experience of elements through altering their structure on a molecular level through all forms of technique. This library of knowledge and experience of these relationships are what forms and shapes style. Where creativity meets methodology innovation is born, but it’s not enough to achieve excellence.
These are the building blocks of greatness, but these attributes alone are still not enough to achieve excellence. It’s through the harmony of all these elements in unison that even approach excellence, like the building of a dish. Each flavor layering and accenting another, each technique bringing out the most relative flavor, texture, and color of an ingredient to create balance and union, and at the same time evoke awe and satisfaction. Thomas Keller (tkrg.org) once said to me “It’s just food Chef” as we were in the middle of service on a busy Saturday night. The defining moment of my culinary career is having my mentor tirelessly drive my dishes and cooking to perfection…and in the same breath utter the words “It’s just food.”
Those words shook my core at a time in my life where I was focused entirely on training and perfecting my technique and pallet. It was then I was reminded of the primal necessity of what created the existence of my field, and defined what I do as a chef. At the core food is a cornerstone of survival and demands the reverence of sustenance before all else. It is that experience in which we all must participate in order to survive that my goal in l
ife is to bring pleasure to. At the end of the day it’s these ideals that drive me to achieve excellence. But its not just about getting from A to B and doing it well, a big part of it all is enjoying the journey.
Bryce Balluff, Chef de Cuisine