Definition - Translation is a concept to quantify the creative process detailing the different ways a dish can be changed to correspond to a chef's vision.
The next subject of inspirational cooking I want to touch on is Methods. This important subset looks at taking advantage of new culinary techniques, changing a cooking method to take better advantage of an ingredient and finally exploring alternative dining methods to enhance the dining experience. I am constantly learning new techniques and refining how I cook to take better advantage of these new techniques. Great cuisine brings together a chef’s skills and with knowledge of the ingredients to create something special. New ideas drive new dishes. Many times I will envision a new dish and have to come up with a new technique or modify an existing one to make it possible. I will introduce a meat pie and quiche where the two layers are distinct and separate. Also I will give an example on taking two techniques and combining them to create a stuffed waffle. The creative use of techniques I have learned will allow me to manipulate an ingredient into something that fits my vision. My bacon cannoli is another great example using a mold to create a new dish.
Using an alternate cooking method sometimes dramatically changes a dish. For example, in keeping with the theme of breakfast, I think how many different ways I can cook an egg. I can fry, poach, bake, boil, deep-fry, scramble, coddle, sous-vide, soufflé, stuff; make frittatas, quiches, omelets, custards, ice creams and so on. It is said that each of the hundred folds in a chef’s toque or hat represent a different way to cook an egg. I can change the cooking method in a dish to creatively alter how I want a dish to turn out. Oven "frying" French fries is a well-known method to create a healthier option then deep frying. We might choose to add a cooking method such as smoking to add a new flavor to the mix. We can sometimes take advantage of new equipment. I recently purchased an immersion circulator. Using it, I add a new cooking method to my culinary repertoire. Many of the dishes I traditionally braise, poach or roast are easily translated to this method , giving me consistently superior results and allows me to cook at a different level.
Changing the dining experience is another method used by many chefs and restaurants to create a new experience for the diner. In fine dining, an artfully prepared plate, starched white table cloths, good china combined with great service somehow just seems to make the food taste better and command a higher price. I personally prefer to coordinate the plating style, menu, service style and mood to dramatically enhance my diner’s culinary experience whether it be casual, elegant or something else. Tasting menus showcasing multiple small plates are an increasing trend in many of the world’s finest restaurants. Internationally, Spanards enjoy tapas, Chinese have Dim Sum, French visit Cafés, Italians has their Osterias and the Swedish the smorgasbord. Sometimes serving food family style, or using a more rustic or traditional plating style may be used to invoke "comfort" and bring the diner back to their childhood or important past culinary memories.