Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's All Been Done

Being original these days is next to impossible. Whether you're a Chef, a big Hollywood film maker, an aspiring author or you hold any other job where creativity is key your biggest challenge will be coming up with something that nobody's done before. These days it seems that Hollywood has given up on original movie ideas and instead it started a trend of book adaptations. The Golden Compass, Narnia, Twilight, Harry Potter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inkheart and hundreds of other recent, box office winners have all been book adaptations. I am sure the same goes for kitchens although somewhat harder to spot. A dessert on Moxie's list, the Xanga (Ch'anga), a fried tortilla filled with banana cheese cake drizzled with caramel sauce and dusted in cinnamon -- and my favourite dessert ever so far -- is showing up in other restaurants (like IHOP in Myrtle Beach for instance) under different, yet slightly similar names. A grilled cheese sandwich with aged cheddar, caramelized onions and pears that was on today's "The Main" (with Anthony Sedlak) and which looked pretty damn good was spotted by a friend of mine, 10 minutes later, in a recent Food and Wine magazine she found on my shelf. The only difference between the two sandwiches was that one used thinly sliced pears while the other used apple. Both had the same aged cheddar and both used caramelized onions in their sandwich. I am sure if I were to research both sandwiches I would find several variations on the theme.

So, I ask you, how original then am I in my latest corned beef sandwich creation? When I decided to caramelize onions and sautee mushrooms to add atop the melted swiss on my corned beef sandwich, was I creative? Absolutely. Original? Remains to be seen. I haven't had time to sit down and search for corned beef sandwich recipes but I would bet money that someone's already thought of the same toppings I have.

How does one win the Golden Plates competition, or the Bocus D'Or where lack of originality immediately dismisses a plate, no matter how well executed the technique, no matter how tasty the dish? You don't know what I'm talking about? Watch the last "Top Chef" episode where the contestants had to compete in the Top Chef version of the Bocus D'or. It made my head spin. There's much to learn, that's for sure, and much to research before knowing, without a doubt, that your recipe is yours, that nobody's published it before. Talk about thinking outside the box. If we all have mentors and we learn from them, how do you stop thinking like them and therefore mimicking something they've already done?

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