I'm asking for help answering this young cook's difficult, but thought provoking question. I will post my official response in a few days after comments, and discussions, from you foodwishers.
There are no wrong answers to this question (or right ones for that matter), so please chime in with any and all advice for this future chef. Thanks!
Photo Credit (c) Flickr user tracyhunter
You were kind enough to respond to some simple questions I emailed several months ago. I hope you will take a minute to respond to this more involved question.
I have finished my education at Johnson & Wales University. I am very confident with my knife skills and my understanding of the wet, dry, and combination cooking methods. However, I feel very nervous when it comes to flavoring food.
Recently, a friend of mine invited me over and said, "Oh, since you are a big culinary school graduate, make me an awesome meal with whatever you find in my fridge, freezer, and pantry." I turned white.
I can prep any ingredient. I can make any recipe. But the challenge to "make an awesome meal" out of random ingredients (i.e. without a recipe) made me want to throw up.
My question is this: "What approach did you use to learn to transform random ingredients into awesome dishes/meals."
Is it just experience? I hope not! I am trying to develop a framework to carry with me anywhere I go that will help me "make a daily special", "make an awesome meal", or just simply put some common ingredients together so they taste good. I hope you won't reply and say this is what the whole business is about...because that is the answer I have received from the best culinarians in Charlotte, NC!
Maybe I am looking for the holy grail of cooking, but I am hoping you have more insightful and instructive words. After all, I have told you in the past (and I still believe) your approach to cooking is the most simple, flavorful, and intuitive of any public chef I have investigated. :)
Thank you Chef for whatever words you can share.