Cooking Creatively – Cook Without A Recipe

Apr 27, 2018 | Cooking Tips

Cooking has always been a creative outlet for me. Taking ingredients and combining them in new ways to create dishes that are greater than the sum of their parts. The ability to create and manipulate flavours simply by changing the way an ingredient is cooked is a profound experience. It is a uniquely human experience passed down through generations. It is an experience that is not exclusive to trained Chefs. Anyone with even the slightest inclination towards creativity can cook in a creative way. Can you taste, smell, and see? Then you can cook creatively.

There is a childlike curiosity in most great Chefs.

There is a childlike curiosity in most great Chefs. They view the majesty of the world with a sense of wonderment and excitement. They look at things they have seen a thousand times with new eyes because every viewing initiates a new response.

…these are the only ingredients I have, what can I cook with them?

Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. It is born out of necessity. As in, these are the only ingredients I have, what can I cook with them? It can come from a flick of inspiration known as an “Aha!” moment. It can be found in a new flavour or experience. Where ever it comes from the key is to recognize it. To harness it, and to use it to its full potential. It is not something that can be forced. It is more something that forces you.

There are things that you can only know through experience.

The real secret to being able to cook creatively is knowledge. This comes in the form of building a flavour library in your mind. You already have one. You have tasted millions of things over the course of your life and all those memories are there. It’s adding to and building upon that naturally engrained library. Knowledge comes in the form of experience with cooking. There are things that you can only know through experience, little cues that are picked up subconsciously. Knowledge comes in the form of learning as much as you can or desire too through books, videos, blogs, podcasts, whatever the case may be.

For me being able to build a dish in my mind has always been one of the paths to cooking creatively.

For me being able to build a dish in my mind has always been one of the paths to cooking creatively. Sometimes it starts with a whole dish, sometimes it starts with the ingredients. Either way, I imagine what I want the dish to taste like, look like, and smell like. I reverse engineer it. I think of everything I had to do to make that dish the way I wanted it. Based on the flavour I’m imagining I access my flavour library and start combining flavours in my mind to get that combination.

Generally speaking, Chefs don’t ever just throw things in a pan. Even if it looks that way…

Before I make a dish in the real world I have often made it 10-15 times in my mind. I know how flavours combine. How different cooking methods change the texture and flavour of ingredients. I imagine all of this before I ever turn on my stove. Generally speaking, Chefs don’t ever just throw things in a pan. Even if it looks that way, we have mapped some kind of plan in our minds. Plan your dish, no matter how simple or complex it may be.

Just enjoy the process just as much if not more than the dish itself. 

Being able to make something out of nothing is a valuable skill. It is a skill that can be learned and honed. I may have made it seem much more complex than it is based my own romantic view of cooking. Really, just use your imagination. Use the knowledge you have, and have fun. Taste everything you can, and taste constantly as you cook. Just enjoy the process just as much if not more than the dish itself.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!