How does Patrick O'Connell create his menus at The Inn at Little Washington?
First, you create a dish that’s your building block and then you work from there. There has to be cohesion, it has to have one voice, no different than a story or a book. These days that’s the failing of so many restaurant menus — it’s a kind of cacophony. It’s one of these, one of these, and you don’t know whose house you’re in. It’s a point of view. It’s identical to writing a novel or a story. Each dish is a narrative and each dish is telling you something, but each dish is relating to all of the other dishes. In most cases you have to be aware that someone is going to “willy-nilly” and take one of these, one of these, one of these and put them together. It has to work in that respect. At home, I always start with one dish that you really want to feature and then allow the menu to work its way around that. It doesn’t have to be the main course, it could be a dessert that is just killer. Usually it has a personality or ethnicity that will allow you to stay in harmony with it and with the rest of the dishes.