Change is the one thing that makes us grow. Change is difficult, messy and pushes our limits of creativity. Putting yourself in constant change with the intent to learn will allow you to create things you never thought possible. This is why with every single thing that we do, we push ourselves to change, to adapt and to let go.
Creativity doesn’t always happen when we want it. Sometime’s it feels like a never ending battle to come up with new ideas. How do you push yourself to be more creative? How do you come up with that next great idea, write that article, create a new menu?
By practicing your craft….
Practicing with intent will allow your mind to wonder to places that are hidden deep within you. Having intent, a clear message to yourself of why you are doing what you’re doing will completely change the way you grow and create. It will start building new pathways in your mind and within a short period you will be creating everywhere you look. Shapes, noises and all of your senses will become parallel with your creativity.
Our group is here to create an experience. To deliver an experience, we have music, atmosphere, service, food, cocktails, wine and drinks. They all have been done before and you can consider them a commodity that anyone can deliver. We needed to think of every detail with such intent that the work that we do before opening the doors is where the creativity lies. The show is only put in front of guests when the practice is done in the background. We practice creativity every single day. We deconstruct, we test, we play, we write, and we get inspired by the world around us. We surround ourselves with beauty, books, ingredients, pictures and we start small. The nugget of an idea can morph into something that is bigger than all of us.
Creating a new menu usually starts with one word per dish. Whether it be protein, an ingredient, a technique, or just a color. We let this sink in for days or weeks and start building flavors. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. Some dishes take minutes and some take weeks. Some dishes are taken off and some are morphed into something completely different then the original idea. Then we practice until we are happy with the result. Adding and subtracting until the dish is perfect to us.
Our chicken wing dish from March 2019 at Black Rabbit used so many practices that it built our framework for how to tackle our menus. It all started with a basket of wings at a sports bar. The thought was brought up and we broke the dish down into every component
Chicken, the fatty silky part
Skin, the crunchy salty part
Sauce, the hot stuff that finishes the wings
Garnish, the parsley to get some color
Freshness, the carrot sticks on the side to cool you down
Deconstructing helps us understand the smaller details and lets us think of individual elements instead of the bigger picture. We know the flavors work together in this case, so how do we transform these flavors into something unique and delicious. The important part for us is to turn everything around while still keeping the integrity of the original idea.
So this is what came from a few months of fiddling around with the idea
Chicken, 3 day brine of local chicken breast. Butterflied, stuffed with chicken patee from the end pieces (because we don’t want to waste) and rolled into a roulade. Cooked sous vide for 90 minutes, seared for service and mounted in butter
Skin, baked chicken skin, adding chicken stock and tapioca flour we made a dough that was rolled thin and dehydrated for 36 hours. Then baked at low temp to make our crunchy chip
Sauce, our friends at VALK fermentation made hot sauce from local carrots, we mounted it in butter to tone it down and accompany the dish
Garnish, some parsley was juiced, brought to 90 degrees Celsius, adding agar agar and setting it in zero degree vegetable oil made the mixture set into beads. Parsley caviar to garnish
Freshness, our friends at VALK also made us from fermented carrots with a hint of cayenne. Salt water brine that fermented over 10 days allow us to have fresh and funky on the plate.
This dish was hard to let go after March. We debated keeping it on because we loved it so much. Constant change needed to be adhered to so we could create even more amazing things, so we let the entire menu go at the end of the month and started from scratch. Which allowed us to develop other flavors and styles.
The practice of change is such a part of our culture that every team member looks forward to change. When we changed our menu in April, everyone was already anxious to start creating the May menu. We now have files for dishes in July when Tomatoes come into season and every month of the year. Something incredible happens when you push yourself to a limit you didn’t think you could get too. You get used to the stress of change. It doesn’t really become easier, it just becomes normal to create, to change and to let go.
Luc Doucet, CEO and Executive Chef Barolo & Co Creative Group