Organization Encourages Creativity
BY CARLA RIEDEL
When I have twenty minutes to relax and don’t want to start a new binge, I have two Netflix go-to shows. One is The West Wing – undeniably the greatest TV show ever produced in the ninety-seven-year history of television. I’ve watched the whole series so many times that I can just drop in anywhere and be swept away. My second go-to is Chef’s Table. Chef’s Table is beautifully shot and transports you into worlds unknown where food is everything and recipes are for light-weights.
Admittedly, I have often spent my free few minutes watching the Chef’s Table opening sequence over and over. It’s set to my favorite piece of music and it takes you to dozens of exotic locations in a frenzy of split-second video cuts. Flour whips across an ancient bread board, enormous tuna hurl themselves from rugged seas across a ship’s bow, tables are set, wine is sloshed, herbs are chopped in a flurry of sharp blades and nimble fingers. But the most remarkable thing about the introduction of Chef’s Table is the way it sparks your creativity. It reminds you there is a big wide world still waiting to be discovered. It reminds you that travel opens up your brain to new ways to use old things, that a fresh outlook will feed your soul.
For a kitchen designer, there’s almost nothing better than watching cooks and bakers in their bliss. Many of the personalities featured on the show have literally made something out of nothing. They’ve found ways to harvest vegetables from the sea or answered an unrecognized but instantly popular need for gourmet bread. Or they’ve turned their downtrodden generations-old family restaurant on its ear with a sprightly new way to look at traditional beef Bourguignon.
The typical setting for the show is a commercial kitchen, all stainless steel and gleaming. Large commercial kitchens are designed in a series of lines, so sous chefs and cooks and bakers and platers all stay out of each other’s way. Every person in a commercial kitchen practices ‘mise e place’ (a French term roughly translated into ‘everything in its place’) so all ingredients are prepared and organized ahead of time to maximize the efficiency of putting a dish together. My son, a TV producer, has learned lots of cooking techniques by watching famous chefs work on the TV shows he produces. He contends that mise en place frees the chef from the rigidity of a recipe and allows his or her mind to explore creative possibilities as they work.
We can use this technique in many creative endeavors including the design of your new kitchen. Educate yourself regarding all the possible ‘ingredients’ of your dream project. Spend some time gathering every fabulous idea you can glean from magazines, productions like Chef’s Table, web sources and the wondrous world. Once you’ve gathered all ye roses, organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Only then should you begin to cull your treasure trove of possibilities for the ideas that really send your heart soaring. Finally, get yourself a top-notch kitchen designer and put them to work as your sous chef. And don’t forget to invite me to dinner when your creative stew finally emerges from the oven.
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