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Honoring the landscape


“In our food media landscape, we’ve romanticized a certain composition of what a great chef, kitchen and landscape are supposed to look, smell and feel like. But just because those things are beautiful doesn’t mean these [food trucks] are not beautiful. For me, I don’t see mustard plants and sheep grazing [in Los Angeles]. I see barbed wire, telephone poles and puddles. And all those contribute to the flavor of the food. Its truly what I call a terroir, a regional food.” Roy Choi

Barbed wire, telephone poles and puddles do not fill the culinary landscape of romanticism. And yet they are the reality of many people who live in urban environments. The food we are served when we are out is more than the calories themselves. It is where and how it is served. Its the influence of our surroundings our company and the energy in the air. Whiskey tastes better in a heavy glass (study). When we take the environment into consideration rather than trying to shut it out, it would seem to me you have the chance to come across as less contrived and more respectful of your surrounding.

As I sit writing this in St. Louis, I do so from a city with an exciting food scene and yet when we look at other intriguing cities like Nashville, Pittsburgh, Charleston, etc, we can feel like we’ve been short-changed. If we just had the thing that is serving as an asset for them and could get rid of a series of things holding us back, we’d be in even better shape.

But maybe in a way, we’re right where we’re supposed to be. I do not mean we should not strive to do better and push ourselves We must always aspire to do better but we must do that while working with what we have rather than holding back because something is lacking.

Constraints can be frustrating at times but they are also the mother of all innovation and creativity. We may dream of a world where we have access to any and everything we want to make the perfect dish, drink or piece of art. But its when we have to make do with what we have that we improvise, find new paths and create something unexpected or pose a question that hasn’t been asked before.

The courageous embrace themselves, their weirdness, their constraints and work to pay less mind to “how things are supposed to be done” and more” how might I work with what I have?”


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