Originally Posted by tweakz
I can understand this. I was exceptionally gifted at art, but I knew I lacked creativity in it. I could take the beauty I saw in something and focus on it and draw it out, but couldn't create beauty like others could.
Creativity goes so far. I wish I'd enjoyed art because it's one of the most profitable things I've done. I'd rather frequent a restaurant that has some consistency and quality standard vs one that's creative (maybe because I can re-create).
Jon from JKI used to be a Chef and found his niche in knife imports, making great videos, and consulting. There's a lot of flexibility in this industry.
Interesting that you say that. I always felt the same as far as art goes. I grew up always being gifted at drawing, and people always said I was so creative because of it. In actuality, I wasn't a good "artist", I was a good illustrator. I never felt artistically creative the way people expected me to be. I guess it's the same thing in the kitchen - I can recreate things, and make versions of things that already exist, but I won't be the one coming up with new and creative amuse bouche for the French Laundry.
Originally Posted by Recky
You're never going to believe it, but I became a chef and restaurant owner not by formal training, but by travelling the world and reading much of the cooking literature written in the past century.
So, my advice to you is: READ!!!! You've worked in the industry for some time, make sure you read up on the basics, the classics, the seminal works. All you need to know to get creative is in there!
Well, that is good advice. Honestly, almost all that I've learned has either been from making food for friends and family at home, or watching other cooks make food for themselves. Which is why the one type of food I can honestly say I can get a little creative with and always make things off the top of my head is Mexican food - after working with hispanic cooks for so many years, I've built up a good knowledge of salsas and preparations (enchiladas, flautas, chalupas, tortas, tacos, etc.) to make. It's just the whole coming up with an entree on the fly that doesn't come so easily to me. I guess I just don't think much about food in my free time, or even at work when I'm doing other things. I'm starting to document all the specials I have used in an effort to not forget.
To the OP being creative is hard, because it's work. Just like with cutting onions it's a lot harder till you've cut 10000 pounds of them then it seems a lot easier. Persevere.
Thanks for all your earnest responses, everyone. It's not that I don't have cooking talent or I'm completely useless, I just feel like it probably comes a lot easier to other chefs. But then I remember that I never had a mentor and have never really worked in a great kitchen with excellent food, so it's pretty much all up to me and what I decide to read and learn in my spare time. It's easy to forget that we have to put extra work into work to get better.