‘Being a professional means inspiring people and getting the best out of them’
Graham Elliot has travelled the world and tasted some most unusual things. “To me the weirder the better. A dog? A monkey? An octopus? Sounds great, let’s cook it!”
George Brown’s Tastes of Tomorrow club hosted Elliot on Nov. 3. Amal Rana, a culinary management student, said she tries to attend as many of Taste of Tomorrow talks as possible: “If my timetable allows me, I will try to make it to the event.”
Elliot’s recently published first cookbook Cooking Like a Master Chef is, according to Elliot, a little mix of everything. In the era of social media sharing it’s hard to keep anything secret, “but when you write a book, it’s an opportunity to tell about yourself, about who you really are.”
And who is he, really? A Chicago-based restaurateur with two Michelin stars; Food & Wine Magazine’s 2004 Best New Chef; Former participant on Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters; co-host and judge of MasterChef and MasterChef Jr., the list goes on. Elliot also used to play in a rock-n-roll band and ran in the Chicago Marathon in 2014.
At 27 he wrote his own “culinary manifesto” which included the rule “respect every little thing you come across in the kitchen.” Ten years later he still believes it is true. “Being a chef is not what you do, it’s who you are,” he added.
“For me being a professional means inspiring people and getting the best out of them,” said Elliot after years of culinary experience. He believes cooking is super-simple and shouldn’t be intimidating at any level. “Let it taste like itself—that’s the secret to cooking great food.”
Graham Elliot doesn’t keep notebooks anymore, simply scratching things off his menu and replacing them with new ideas. He uses music as his main source of inspiration and says there are a lot of similarities between it and cooking.
“A menu is very much like a CD. There are three hits, two awful chef favourites and a bunch of regular things that no one ever remembers.”
His worst nightmare is being stuck at a predictable job. Leaving behind the rigid rules often found in fine-dining restaurants, Elliot is a fan of constant changes in his kitchen and expects his cooks to question him.
“There is no right or wrong when it comes to creativity in the kitchen. It’s all a grey area open to interpretation,” he said. “And if someone doesn’t want to do something, the door is always there. That’s what I find amazing about life.”