Read Craig’s fascinating take on food and the evolution of his style.

Creativity

….without an audience, it’s meaningless

Creativity is what keeps my food evolving and the work involved in creating and inspiring a team of chefs, not only because it is central to the passion and commitment of everyday work in a kitchen but also because the creativity of the food is what makes people want to come back to the restaurant. The restaurant is like a workshop where new dishes, concepts and techniques are developed and shared with the guests. Without an audience, the creations would have no meaning. To be truly creative, a dish must be interesting and new. The aim is to create dishes and techniques that fully engage the guest’s sensory, emotional and intellectual faculties. To surprise and encourage them to experience food in new and unexpected ways.

A study in Rabbit

Understanding Nouvelle Cuisine

 When I became a chef, I was strongly influenced by nouvelle cuisine, a new cooking style from France that had shorter cooking times and a lighter cooking style. This challenged the rules of classic cuisine. Local cuisines as a source of inspiration is important when creative. Although this creative method had its roots in nouvelli cuisine, it has also helped me forge my independent style. Fusion cuisine combines ingredients, classic dishes, and cooking techniques from several parts of the world in one dish. As a creative method, it is the most successful when used in my own individual style, resulting in articulate and innovative dishes.

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Multi National Tastes

Absorbing influences from other countries is complex and can operate in many different ways. On travelling to the Mediterranean, I discovered that, unlike many ingredients, frit could fit into more than one basic taste group. It can be sweet, sour and bitter all at the same time. Japanese influenced me with a style of formal dining with many courses that are finely balanced in taste, texture, cooking technique and presentation, emphasising spirituality, ritual and sequence of eating, which values the total experience. Exploring, touching, tasting, and analysing all of this opens up different routes, which results in new dishes sooner or later.

“Creativity means changing your mind every day.”

Food for the Senses

Eating involves the use of all the senses. Each sense can be seen as a separate creative method, but in many cases, the interaction between different senses produces the most interesting results.

Sight- often, the first sense transmits information about the dish

Hearing- the least important sense for the act of eating, can still play an interesting role in biting into an apple or a thin sheet of caramel.

Touch- temperature is the guest’s first tactile sensation & then textures transmit many different sensations. A puree or liquid can become a mousse, foam, granite, sorbet or jelly, and altering ingredients’ natural texture can radically alter a diner’s perceptions.

Smell- is a vital component of flavour and the complex interaction between the sense of smell and taste.

Taste- taste is the heart of eating, taste buds identifies sweet, salt, bitter, sour.

  But the sensory judgement is made in the mind

        A Question of Balance

        “You have to find a balance between what you want to do, what is possible and what the guest would like.”

        The natural textures, colours, and culture of Saint Lucia provide a rich source of inspiration for me. Forcing ideas gets you nowhere, and patience is essential. There are different levels of creativity in cooking. You can follow a recipe and add a few touches of your own, or you can create a new recipe of your own, which is the highest level of creativity. I keep creative notebooks filled with ideas, concepts, and sketches for new dishes, which I am always adding to. I even write down ideas from dreams, take one of them, start developing it, and see it evolve on a plate. Exploring, touching, tasting and analysing the food and ideas resulting in a new dish.

        Extracting pulp from tamarind and using the peel to make a tamarind infusion for the foam to enhance a fish dish. Trying different methods of slicing a pumpkin is simple but the most fundamental way of experimenting with a vegetable, and it can lead to completely new ways of using it. After years spent working in restaurants, my mental plate, the flavours and textures of thousands of ingredients, and countless hours of cooking, tasting and experimenting with dishes all contribute to a chef’s mental recipe book. Using this provides shortcuts that help create a new dish that evolves quickly. It allows you to use this knowledge of the flavours and textures of ingredients to image how they might combine together, also good to make notes of these combinations to create with later.

        Ingredients are the chef’s raw materials, and the qualities of a dish greatly depend on the raw materials chosen.