Monday, October 19, 2009

Variety vs. Consistency?

As I strive to perfect a method in the kitchen, the concept of seasonal variety has become a cornerstone of my burgeoning style. Outside obvious draws to seasonality - foods at the peak of freshness and all that - changing dishes frequently has become a clever remedy to one of my little quirks. I get bored easily. I've found that when the newness of a dish no longer excites me is when I start to see all of it's flaws and move to change it. This could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps I'm simply imagining these flaws or maybe complacency causes me to slip in the execution department. Whatever the case, seasonality has provided the perfect excuse to constantly change my menu in order to stay current with abundant ingredients, but also to cycle through myriad ideas I have floating through my head. At the same time, the importance of consistency and perfecting a particular method is not lost on me. It certainly becomes more difficult to truly perfect something when it's always changing.

I've defended the changing nature of my menu to others as well as myself by explaining that the freshness of ideas keeps me and the cooks excited and therefore focused on nailing the execution of something ever time it is ordered. I believe in this point very strongly, but have wondered about how to reconcile it with consistency and perfection. The proliferation of food carts in Portland has brought to my attention some extraordinary people who's businesses thrive - quite well - on the reputation of one thing. Day in and day out they make and sell the exact same dish. Superficially, this seems like my worst cooking nightmare, but there are some nuances to think about. While variety keeps me moving along, I have an undying desire to perfect each and every thing I make. I've realized the importance of repetition in regards to this goal and must admit that there is no better way to approach perfection than to cast aside all distractions and make that one dish over and over again until you know it inside out. How to combine these two seemingly disparate motivations I have then? I'm not sure there is a perfect answer for that. I try to refine all recipes and procedures to the point of perfection while a dish is on the menu, but can that measure up to the level of refinement in a dish that is always there, with nothing else to draw away my attention? Most likely not. I'm not sure I have what it takes to do the same thing over and over again with no variety to keep things fresh. That's why I got into the cooking game in the first place and why I seem to move around every few years. My love of variety vs. the desire to achieve perfect consistency is undoubtedly the greatest dilemma I'll ever face...with no end in sight...

No comments:

Post a Comment