Ok, so here’s the thing. Development, like I have mentioned before, is my absolute best thing. I love taking a raw ingredient and making it something amazing (or not) and being able to see peoples reaction to what I put down in front of them.
My biggest project in my new job, so far, was developing a menu inspired by the tastes of the Mediterranean. Think, oregano, lemon, mint, olive oil. Up the anti, to make sure it’s contemporary without being too modern, that it’s packed with flavor and that half the team I work with are actually Cyprian…eeeeeeek! Also, the entire process. I have a menu team/committee, that does research on the theme or feel we are going for, they give me the research and then I do MORE research. I then come up with dishes, not 3 or 6, but like 80….again, eeeeeeeeeeek!!!!! Then we sit, and run through the dishes I have in mind, we talk about plating, I try to paint the picture, so that they can see my vision. I have photo references of certain things, or print outs of recipes. Ok. We figure out what works, tweek some ideas, cut some dishes. Right. So we have 40 know. (Still Eek!)
Now for the fun.
Each dish, with each component, with each garnish, with each flavor, with each issue, with each struggle, with each thing. Ha!
Then, I present. To our little panel. Tasha then tastes, and dissects, and critiques, and adds her flare. Then again, we sit, make changes, cut items, add items, get recipes, do more research, look at photos, sit with recipe books…and AGAIN, I cook and we go through this process until we are all happy.
The final tasting, I cooked about 38 dishes. Over the period of 5 hours. About 8 people tasted.
When I know something is good, I find myself really excited when I put that plate down. Sometimes though, I have doubt and I think, what the actual hell did i just make? Other times, I’m just like “Ok, no, back to the drawing board”
When I am doing these tastings, I don’t sleep, I hardly eat and I run off pure adrenaline, until I collapse into a chair, next to Tasha, she then hugs me and kisses my forehead. “Well done” she says, and I get emotional and almost start crying. Almost like a parent telling you how proud they might be. Because goodness grief, I basically just put myself on that table and made myself vulnerable to everyone that just tasted my food. Props go out to my menu team, Alex and Melpo, because sometimes, guidance, patience and understanding is also needed in a menu process!
You see. As chefs, we put ourselves on a plate. We want to create a memory for you. We want you to walk away with a feeling, a sensation. That sensation is one that stays with you. The memory lasts. Remember the first time you ate something that blew your mind? Can you associate the smell, the taste, the texture. Can you take yourself back to how you felt? Was it happiness? Were you content? Did it forever change the way you looked at that certain food? On the flip, can you remember tasting some that you didn’t like, and how that made you feel?
Food forever remains such a THING. We are always going to need it, we are always going to crave it. This makes my job easier, because it will always be in demand. BUT, we want it fresh, flavorsome, inventive. We want to be able to recall that first bite, that first taste, that first goose bump moment. We want to try to recreate it, to capture it in a bubble, to make it last.
That is the heart of it. That’s what gets me pumped and excited and enthusiastic. That’s what makes me love what I do