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Craig Giesecke Gets All Philosophical About Culinary Creativity

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Last Friday, occasional Uptown Messenger columnist/champion of the proletariat Craig Giesecke wrote a thoughtful article about how getting back to the basics in the kitchen, i.e. doing all that gritty work like frying chicken tenders or stocking the salad bar, can help reignite a complacent chef's creative fire. It's not necessarily a bad thing, Giesecke argues, for chefs to do all the "scut work" they thought they'd moved past once they became big-time hotshots, because, other than helping them rediscover how important all the unglamorous work is, it also helps them develop more empathy with their employees and more insight into the craft.

He explains:

The second reason it's a good thing is that doing this kind of work takes us back to our culinary roots and forces us to reacquaint ourselves with things we might not otherwise do much anymore. At a certain level, chefs leave the frying and other prep work to someone else and they disconnect, and this is detrimental to their own creativity and skill. Just as a race car driver needs to spend time helping rebuild an engine, so does a chef need to spend the same time frying, picking shell parts from crab or otherwise getting one-on-one with the food they're putting out. It's true in any industry.

It's just like in Rocky III when Rocky gets all soft because he's swaddled himself in wealth and luxury and then has to go back to the basics of running on the beach in short-shorts and learning how to hit a speed bag in order to rediscover how hardcore he is so he can defeat Clubber Lang. You see? It's basically the same thing, and I'm sure Giesecke would totally appreciate the Rocky analogy.

· Back to basics [Uptown Messenger]