Illustration by Jessica Gómez.
How to apply creativity in the food and beverage industry without losing your head?
The kitchen as a spectacle and current trends:
Vanguard is a word that exists to describe the group of people that goes first in the army, those who have the first contact with the enemy and who are in greater risk of dying. Vanguard is also a word that is strong within the culinary vocabulary.
As a gastronomic movement, Vanguardia is a phenomenon that developed in the first years of the new millennium and the first to join the troop was Ferrán Adriá with El Bulli: spheres, foams and the word experience gave a restaurants a new “wow” factor.
El Bulli was a watershed, but Ferrán himself says that he would never open a restaurant again because he broke the barriers of gastronomy to such a degree that the concept of a laboratory in the end turned into a mere artistic abstraction. Is this profitable?
The counter response of this movement today is going ”back to basics”: simple and abundant gastronomy where the ingredients are the stars. This concept is better explained by Drew Deckman of Deckman’s in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico: I am not a chef, I am an ingredient facilitator.
We live in an era with many trends and apparent contradictions, for example: concepts such as plant based and keto diet are emerging simultaneously in the restaurant industry. Plant based responds to the use of vegetable inputs that replace dishes originally made with animal protein, and Keto diet (ketogenic diet) bases its structure on animal proteins and fats. Which trend wins? There is a public for everything.
The gastronomic avant-garde had the vision to create “experiential” food: a sensory performance for the spectator – diner. Within this trend’s world leaders you can find Grant Achatz from Alinea in Chicago with his molecular dishes and Andoni Luis Aduriz from the legendary restaurant Mugaritz in Spain – a reinventor of Adriá’s legacy, with a commitment: let’s keep innovating.
For Andoni, the original avant-garde has been left behind, but what persists is the creativity that goes hand in hand with the business side of a restaurant.
In the words of Dabiz Muñoz, chef of DiverXO in Madrid: there are empty Michelin restaurants, it’s time to think and understand that being in a guide isn’t important if your restaurant doesn’t have a clear purpose and business concept.
In the meantime, Albert Adriá, brother of Ferrán, and legendary restaurateur with projects such as Tickets in Barcelona, proposes: to keep going, you have to ask yourself every day, can this be improved or not? In a competitive industry, being comfortable is being dead.
Let’s talk about creativity: Andoni’s dictionary to escape the status quo
Andoni is synonymous with disruption and an ambassador of creativity, more than a chef, he is a philosopher of culture and the cuisine, his vision is to break through paradigms and the culinary order. In the last edition of Madrid Fusión he gave this example:
What happens if you date someone in a restaurant and the person you go with asks for a latte before eating? Strange, right? Do not drink coffee with milk first if you are going to eat, but ordering a coffee after eating is natural. All our precepts are implicit cultural agreements and we can play with them.
1. It starts with curiosity
Andoni says: creativity is a technique, you learn to be creative and to exercise your mental muscles the same way you do with your legs when you play soccer.
The first thing to do? BE CURIOUS, to question all the existing rules, all the rules and accepted protocols which also includes the traditional service cycle in a restaurant. There is no single discourse for your thoughts, there are endless ways of understanding gastronomic culture. Wealth means diversity.
2. Cross disciplines
Inspiration can come from less thoughtful places. The kitchen does not only live inside the kitchen, to be a cook you have to be a historian, anthropologist, poet, storyteller and theater director. Fill yourself with other cultures: try everything.
A taste of Mugaritz literature
“Punto de fuga” is a book that just came out from Andoni’s head in 2019, here are some of our favourite quotations found in the glossary named: “Non culinary terms to face culinary challenges” that aims to detonate creative inspirations and desire to expand the conventional borders of thought :
Hit: the consequence of doing better.
Kiss: type of sip.
Diners: people who actively participate in what they eat. Anything is important for them, except indifference.
Communion: pact between accomplices.
Cutlery: crutches to move around a table without using your fingers.
Curiosity: type of hunger.
Convention: door that craves to be torn down.
Discomfort: eternal youth elixir. In its right dose, it can be an important cre- ative catalyst. In excess: it kills.
Defeat: the prelude to a triumph.
Dissonance: contrast between flavors, textures or contexts from which new ideas may arise.
Error: starting point for a new possibility.
Habit: gesture acquired and repeated by fearful palates.
Innocence: believing in Santa Claus or in culinary rankings.
Taste: point of view.
After diner: action of using food as an excuse to share conversations and experiences that nourish each other.
*Our specialty is the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry.