How does David Chang come up with new dishes?
Creativity in the kitchen, more often than not, happens from trial and error and accidents. That’s probably the majority of recipe development — just screwing up or burning something, and then taking that burned product into a beautiful dish. A lot of eureka-like moments come from a total disaster, trying to save the situation.
Second, it comes from a collaboration of ideas, because a restaurant isn’t a singular effort. You have an entire crew of people, and if you can edit each other’s ideas, theoretically at least… Let’s just say we do a dinner service tonight and we get these rutabagas coming in, and it’s a beautiful rutabaga. No one else is excited about rutabaga, but we’re really excited about rutabaga. And we start riffing on about what we might want to serve with that tomorrow or what dish we want to cook around that tomorrow. So you get a lot of people that are excited about a product, and that excitement sort of creates this creative spark. You’re sort of throwing ideas out there, and then the next day we’re going to work on those ideas, and edit and whittle away. There’s no improvising. Not our restaurants. I don’t really believe in improvising, in cooking. I just don’t. I think you can do it — I think you can improvise and be good, once in a while. But to be good consistently, you can’t improvise. It takes lots of practice.