What Came First?

IMG_6793On April 14, 2012, I launched this blog with a post titled, What Came First? The focus was eggs and egg cookery.  Today, in this post titled the same, I celebrate the third anniversary of this writing adventure by asking the question;  What came first the chef or the recipe?  Throughout my culinary journey, I have had many mentors and have viewed and developed thousands of recipes. I have often pondered the question, does the quality of the recipe really determine the outcome of the dish or are there other influencing factors?  In my fifteen years as a culinary instructor and through writing this blog, it has become apparent that most people want a written document with specific quantities and instructions.  There is a level of discomfort in cooking off the cuff.  How do I know what goes together and how much seasoning to use?  An inexperienced cook may be unfamiliar with various foods and flavor enhancers but as your culinary experience develops, trusting your instincts and using the best ingredients (fresh and seasonal) available are all the insurance you need for success in the kitchen.  Yes, a recipe can be helpful but it is only a guideline.IMG_7038

Tom Colicchio, chef and restaurateur, says,

“Creating recipes begin in the marketplace.  See what looks good.  What’s abundant?  What grows naturally together?  What herbs are peaking?  Above all, what are the seasons saying?  What I see starts me thinking about flavors and textures, combination and balance.  Then I  bring my purchases home and set to work.”  I recommend his book, Think Like A Chef ( link above).IMG_6964

Alice Waters, chef, restaurateur and founder of, The Edible Schoolyard, states it this way in her books, The Art of Simple Food.

“I’m convinced that the underlying principles of good cooking are the same everywhere.  These principles have less to do with recipes and techniques than they do with gathering good ingredients, which for me is the essence of cooking.”

The late Judy Rogers, chef, restaurateur and author of the cookbook, The Zuni Café Cookbook has this to say.

“Recipes do not make food taste good, people do.  Tasting, looking, smelling, and feeling as you cook is not difficult.  Adjusting for what you taste, or don’t taste, need not be intimidating.   Pay attention the entire way.  Do not be afraid to experiment, to push boundaries and explore options within the safety of a trusted process.  It is people we are talking about now, as much as recipes.”

IMG_6724Unbeknownst to them, they have all, along with many others, mentored me, advanced my knowledge of food and assisted me in developing skills and confidence in the kitchen.  I have taken their wisdom and incorporated it into my being.  Thanks to all of the mentors that have crossed my path for everything they have contributed to the development of my passion.  Their influence has made it possible for me to teach and share this blog with all of you.  I hope I have succeeded in paying it forward.

That said, I am not sharing a recipe today but urge you to create from what you find at your market.  Let those seasonal offerings speak to you.  Allow your culinary artistry to flow through those beautiful finds.  Make the best meal ever!  If you follow Queen Jeanne, you know my secret ingredient is always, LOVE.  I say, “To be a good cook you have to love to eat and spreading the love to others, one dish at a time.”  So bring it!  What inspired your creations recently?  Let us hear from you.  Until next time, I send my love out to you and extend my heartfelt gratitude for your readership and contributions over the past three years.  I think we all have to agree, what came first was the ingredients.  The chef and the recipe followed.  Jeanne IMG_7044

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4 responses to “What Came First?

  1. Elizabeth Palmer

    I picked up ramps at the Dane Co FM on Saturday. It was a beautiful opening day!

  2. I was thinking of you on Saturday and wondering if you made it to opening day. The weather was sure glorious! I had another commitment so I was unable to make it but hoping to go on Saturday. I have been watching the ramps in our woods and think they will be ready this week. Thank you so much for your loyal readership and comments. I appreciate them very much. Hope you have your rain gear on today. I am sure the farmers are smiling.

  3. Happy anniversary Jeanne! And thank you for the reminder of what makes a good cook – the words of wisdom are great. Keep up the wonderful writing and recipes. Sally

  4. Thanks, Sally. Seems we both wrote about ingredients this week. It is so important. I remember when I moved to WI from CA I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to cook. Took me a while to source out good ingredients. I am fortunate to be in farm country so I can often buy direct from the grower. I am currently reading, Animal, Vegetable , Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I am finding it a good read dealing with seasonal and local foods. Check it out if you haven’t read it. Thanks so much for your comments and good wishes. Jeanne

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