Sunday, January 24, 2010

Culinary Artistry

Hello my friends.
I was recently asked by a family friend how I came up with menu ideas. I told her, "Duh, I am a culinary genius! Ideas just pop into my mind!" Honest answer? No. Nope, I am not a genius chef, at best, a mediocre one, but nonetheless, fun right? Perhaps it is best I give thanks to The Culinary Institute of America and the many chefs I have had the honor and pleasure with whom to work . Without them I would not be the chef blogging before you. In addition to my education and work experience, I also must give, all the rest of the credit to my one go-to book: Culinary Artistry. (Available at I was first introduced to this book after I graduated from the CIA and was a teaching assistant for Certified Master Chef, Thomas Griffiths. This was a book he used as a resource. Now, I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I haven't read it all. The part of the book I use the most has information that will inspire both the most or least experienced chefs! On these pages are listed the complimentary flavors and ingredients of general foods. For example, ingredients that pair with chicken are: almonds, apples, Armagnac, asparagus, bacon and it continues to list 80 other food items. It also gives the ideal preparation and cooking methods and tells you when that food item is in season. Now come on, with all that info given to you, how could you not come up with a delicious, blow their socks off meal? Find a quiet corner, pick an ingredient and in no time....BISTRO MENU! All created by you with your creativity and taste. Now, as with anything, at first you may be underconfident, but remember to keep it simple and you will do fine. Yes, you will make mistakes. In fact, I hope you do because it is the perfect time to learn. After each meal I have cooked, especially if it is something new, I like to sit back and critique it. I take note of what I liked, disliked and what I would do differently next time. This step will help you improve as a chef and I encourage you to make it a habit.
So to sum it up, buy Culinary Artistry ( and explore it. There are tons of pages of sample menus from famous chefs' restaurants that will open you mind to new flavor combos and applications. Tune in later tonight for a recipe for Shrimp Scampi!

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