January 14, 2019

Food for Thought

Osakana sells sushi-grade fish caught locally. Apparently, most sushi restaurants in New York source their fish from Japan. Osakana wants to change that. Reading their website, it’s interesting to see how much personal philosophy can be expressed through a store that just sells ingredients.

A few days ago, I was watching a competitive cooking show with a bunch of Michelin star chefs and found myself feeling bored with the whole format. I feel these top chefs are missing the whole point of art (i.e. if they consider what they do as a form of art). Ultimately, art isn’t about skills or knowledge; it’s about finding yourself and expressing it honestly. To do that, you don’t need to master a wide range of cooking techniques or use expensive, exotic ingredients. You just have to master the skills needed to express yourself.

This is the key difference between commercial artists and fine artists; having a broad range of skills is useful for the former because they are lending their skills to express who their clients are. Fine artists have only themselves to express.

And, being yourself cannot be compared; it’s about being singular, not about superior. The original, Japanese Iron Chef with the ridiculously dressed host and his over-the-top Shakespearean acting, was meant to be tongue in cheek, like professional wrestling. Unfortunately, this dimension was lost in translation.

What I enjoy in food are the honest self-expressions of the chefs. Even innovation and creativity are irrelevant if they are not reflected in their food. The ultimate point isn’t to be different or unique either. If you can express yourself honestly, you would naturally be unique without trying.

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