Go ahead. Play with your food!
I may be the only chef that will tell you it’s okay to play with your food! In fact, I highly recommend it. So many of us get caught up in exacting recipes and what we’re ‘supposed to do’ that it limits us.
Playing with your food opens up all kinds of possibilities! Part of it is getting to know what you’re eating with all your senses. Learn where it comes from and appreciate the work that goes into getting it into your hands. Notice what it looks, feels and smells like. Cut it up into crazy shapes if you want. But for the love of all things delicious, taste it!
Fear of unknown food limited me.
There were many things that I hadn’t tasted early in my culinary career because I was afraid of it. Many times, I turned down trying something out of fear. I didn’t like the way it looked or smelled. Or, someone had told me that it wasn’t good so I believed them and wouldn’t try. I was missing out.
Since I have adopted the philosophy of “playing with food,” my cooking has become more creative and spontaneous. I’m continually excited about some new ingredient or technique that I want to try, and I’m no longer bored with the same old thing.
Why so serious?
I have also learned not to take myself so seriously. I am extremely passionate about food and cooking, but above all else I want to have fun and share that joy with others. Measuring can feel like a chore sometimes, so now when I cook it’s really more about putting ingredients together in new ways and not necessarily how much of this or that.
It’s a continual evolution of try a pinch, taste the dish, and add as needed depending on how I feel at that moment. When creating a new dish or perfecting a new technique, I am present in the moment with my heart and mind open. The result: a true expression of self.
I was wrong!
In the spirit of trying new things, I offer you my recipe for Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad below. Would you believe I never ate brussels sprouts until I was in my mid-twenties? They were on the list of things my mom would never eat, therefore she never cooked them and for two decades I assumed they were gross.
Was I wrong! Please enjoy and have fun!