Sometimes chefs may find themselves stuck in a culinary rut, especially if they’re too busy running their kitchens to take a step back and focus on brainstorming. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get into the habit of nurturing their creativity so they can come up with delicious new ideas. The following tips can help chefs who may have lost their creative mojo get their innovative thinking back.
Enjoy the process. Creativity is supposed to be enjoyable, so when trying to conjure up something new, chefs should enjoy the process as much as possible and avoid perfectionism. “Just have fun when you cook, mix random ingredients, combine different world cuisines in your flavors, think outside the box,” said Maryella Ortiz, Corporate Sous Chef at Breakfast Republic. “You may ruin some dishes here and there, but you might also strike gold!”
Try new things inside and outside of the kitchen. Sometimes busy chefs get into a food rut when cooking for themselves, which can hinder their creativity. By trying new things in their own kitchen, it can spark inspiration to create new dishes on the job. In addition, trying new things outside of the kitchen, like hobbies, can get chefs’ creative juices flowing because it helps them step outside of their daily routine.
See what’s out there. Since inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s important for chefs to constantly see what’s out there so they can get new ideas. “I like to eat out a lot to see what other chefs are doing. It’s nice to do some R&D to gain inspiration,” said Daniel England, Corporate Executive Chef at OMG Hospitality Group. “When you see something, you might instantly think of a different way of presenting a dish, not necessarily better, just different. I also recommend reading everything. Cookbooks, magazines, blogs, social media—the more you read, the more inspiration you will find.”
Get some exercise. Getting regular exercise not only builds physical muscles, it also helps to build mental muscles, which goes a long way toward sparking creative ideas. In fact, those who work out frequently find it easier to be creative than those who don’t, thanks to the mental stimulation exercise produces.
Enjoy the outdoors. Getting fresh air and spending time in nature is a great way to relax and get into a creative mindset. By going on hikes, spending time at the beach, or just taking a walk around the neighborhood, chefs can invigorate their brain so new ideas flow easily.
Establish a creative environment. For some chefs, the busyness and stress of their normal environment can make it difficult to get into a creative mode. In order to combat this, they can find a nice, quiet space where they can be alone to brainstorm. Also, people should keep a notebook in their creative environment to make it easy to document any ideas that come up.
Notice what captures your imagination. If something catches your attention when you’re eating out, talking to other chefs, or cruising the aisles of the supermarket, pay close attention to what it is and jot it down. Whatever captures your imagination during your normal routine can be the catalyst for your next big idea, so you don’t want to ignore the things that spark your interests.