Dr. Ryan believes that, to solve a culinary-related problem and/or to create a new idea, you become stuck in a rut if you limit yourself to considering the culinary world when brainstorming solutions. Instead, he advises, you should look at similar situations in different disciplines – such as art or rock and roll – and adapt what innovative people in these arenas did for your own purposes.
Just like the Big Dipper has seven stars, Dr. Ryan says, creativity has seven distinct stages – and, here they are.
The reality is that you can have a successful business without innovating. If, for example, your customers love chicken parmesan, you can make this your signature dish, please your customers and be successful. Done deal. If, though, you want to be innovative, this must be a conscious decision. In what way will you be creative? In your overall menu, in your mode of service or with a unique specific dish?
You’ll need a percolation period, a time for germination as you consciously and/or sub-consciously work through ideas.
This will likely consist of reading and consulting with others, as well as conducting your own studies. The Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, as just one example, was diligent and methodical during his creative process. Because creativity seldom manifests itself as a bolt of lightning, a thoughtful process is almost always at the root of innovation.
To expand upon the step three, perfect ideas seldom arrive wholly formed, even to the most creative people. You typically must draft, re-draft, hone and refine. Bruce Springsteen is an excellent example of that process, with his notebooks filled to the brim with ideas, words and phrases. That’s what led to one of rock and roll’s greatest songs: Born to Run
Fernand Point is an outstanding example of a chef who broke from tradition to blaze his own path. His crayfish tail gratin, for example, took seven years of development. Tempting as it might be to try a recipe once and then put it on the menu, virtually every dish can benefit from a considered editing process.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, arguably the world’s most successful songwriting duo ever, regularly traded ideas and lines, with such high standards that even many of their throwaway songs are something amazing to behold. McCartney’s positivity and Lennon’s biting wit played perfectly against one another.
Once you’ve identified an innovation worth pursuing, take it to the finish line and get that dish on the menu or that process in your restaurant.
On one end of the creativity spectrum, you can choose an outstanding dish, replicate it faithfully and give proper attribution. On the other end, you theoretically can create something absolutely new and original, but that’s something that very rarely happens. In real life, the murky middle is where most of the creative greats play.
Here are three examples, the first focusing on the Beach Boys:
Then there’s Elvis!
The third example dissects a now-famous feud between Neil Young and Lynard Skynard:
Be sure to watch the entire presentation to see numerous other examples, those focusing on Pablo Picasso, Bob Dylan and more.
Tools needed to amplify your own unique sense of creativity are explored more fully in the above video clip:
In summary, here are methods discussed:
To remember these methods, use the acronym of SCAMPER.
He is a Certified Master Chef and a Culinary Olympic Champion, and the first alumnus and faculty member to rise through the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to become president. He has brought the CIA to the forefront in the arenas of health and fitness, food ethics and sustainability, and cuisine flavors from around the world. Educational programs launched under his leadership include the Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Lives initiative in collaboration with Harvard University. Another Harvard collaboration is the World of Healthy Flavors culinary conference. This is often considered to be the country’s influential world cuisine forum.
Stayed tuned for even more coverage of our 2017 culinary conference in this blog! There’s lots more to come. And, it’s not too early to start planning to come to Roots 2018.