When I tell people that I've been cooking since childhood, they invariable ask how I remain interested and enthusiastic about the preparation of food. I could go on citing reasons for days--don't even get me started--but at the very top of the list is what lures me out of bed each morning:
It is the power of transformation.
Transformation is what hooked me on baking. It taught me the effect of fire and water and the role that science plays in the kitchen. Even now, I am still amazed at what butter, flour, sugar and eggs can become.
Outside of the kitchen, the theme of transformation is the common thread that unites my other interests. When I look at a raw carrot, it is no different than how I view a blank canvas, a length of fabric, or the lens of a camera. My eyes see what it is, my imagination tells me what it can be, my hands make it be.
The journey from abstract idea to concrete product is fueled by constant dialog about possibilities and limitations. The road is not always straight or direct, and I often take detours, get lost, and crash along the way. But the joy is in the journey-- the manipulation of infinite variables, the witnessing of and participation in the transformation.
A clear, steaming hot consomme of fresh peas made by gelatin filtration is poured into a bowl of carefully arranged elements: a perfect raw oyster, a lacy mantle of roasted peanut oil and cocoa butter, mango pearls, and the flower, stems and leaves of pea shoots.
The initial effect, and most dramatic, is the melting of the roasted peanut-cocoa butter lace. Peas and peanuts are both legumes and share many aroma compounds. The emulsification reverts back to a fragrant oil that forms droplets on the surface and lends the soup an enticing aroma and flavor. As the consomme level rises, the pea shoots soften and float, the leaves open and unfurl. These add texture to the soup and reinforce the flavor of the consomme. The pearls dislodge and swirl to the bottom of the bowl, waiting to be scooped up and burst their bright mango juice in the mouth. The oyster coddles in the heat of the consomme and is intended to be the last voluptuous bite.