What is your food philosophy?
Mine is rooted in the seasons, cooking real foods, no processed sugar, little meat, lots of fish. Those are the basics that my wife and I try to adhere to, but we are not strict about them all the time, because pleasure is also a big component of eating for us.We do spend a lot of time buying, preparing and cooking at home; we have made it a priority.
It’s nice to read about chefs who also have great philosophies and guidelines for their cooking. There are a lot of catchphrases like “farm to table” that have perhaps, started to lose some of their meaning because it is so hard to verify.
We recently from , the chef of Husk in Charleston, SC and Nashville, TN in the US. Along with the recipes, which give you a glimpse of a very specific regional type of cooking in the US, he has printed a manifesto near the front. A lot of cookbooks will give you a guide to what the chef is thinking, or where they gain their inspiration, but with Sean’s manifesto I thought it deserved its own space because it is full of wisdom. It is the type of wisdom that you can gain from listening to grandmothers, from observing traditions, from participating in a community; the type of wisdom that is not necessarily learned in a classroom, but gained through experience, observation and conversation.
So here is Sean Brock’s manifesto, from his cookbook Heritage. I hope that you find some inspiration from it as I did, and perhaps it will give you a new outlookand an inquisitive mind on what you eat.
Extracted fromHeritagebySeanBrock(Artisan, £27.99). Copyright©2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards
• Cook with soul—but first, get to know your soul.
• Be proud of your roots, be proud of your home, be proud of your family and its culture. That’s your inspiration.
• Cook as if every day you were cooking for your grandmother. If your grandmother is still alive, cook with her as much as possible, and write everything down.
• Respect ingredients and the people who produce them.
• Visit the farmers’ market at least once a week, and use most of your food budget at the market.
• Buy the best that you can afford.
• Grow your own—even if it’s just a rosemary bush. You’ll taste the difference and start planting more right away.
• Do as little as possible to an ingredient when it’s perfect and at its peak.
• You can never be too organized; a clean work space allows for a clean mind that can produce a clean plate of flavors.
• Cook in the moment. Cook the way you are feeling, cook to suit the weather, cook with your mood, or to change your mood.
• Let vegetables tell you what to do. Taste them raw before you start thinking about how to cook them. Are they sweet? tender? crunchy? starchy?
• Cook a vegetarian feast occasionally. Vegetables cooked with care can be just as rewarding as a piece of braised meat.
• If you are dead set on making a specific recipe but when you go to the market the ingredients don’t speak to you or feel and smell perfect, don’t make the recipe. Cook from the hip—you may surprise yourself. Perfect ingredients don’t require much; shop for flavor, not concept.
• Overseason something with salt and acid just so you know what is too much. Then ride the line, and you’ll find your balance.
• Listen to your tongue; it’s smart.
• Cook using your instincts. Cooking times are just guidelines.
• Try to make every dish better every time you make it. Keep a notebook to document successes and failures. And record your creative inspirations in it as well.
• Eat with your hands as much as possible.
• Be curious! Ask yourself questions: Why did the fish stick to the pan? Why did my sauce break?
• Never stop researching and seeking knowledge in the kitchen.
• Cooking should make you happy. If it starts making you angry, stop cooking and go eat at a nice restaurant. Come back the next night and think about what went wrong and give it another shot.
• He who dies with the biggest pantry wins.