Talking Flavor Memories with Eric Ripert and Christina Tosi
Dessert chef Christina Tosi and French chef Eric Ripert, along with Bon Appétit’s Christine Muhlke, discuss flavor, memory and emotion, and their intrinsic ties to their cooking expertise
Yet both chefs cling to their backgrounds to help them get there. Their earliest childhood memories serve as starting points for the feeling associated with their foods, and the tastes they hope to either impart to others or build off of in the kitchen.
“Your experiences ultimately end up in a variety of flavors,” said Ripert, when asked of the influence of his travels. While he joked that every trip makes him want to become a chef of that country, Tosi helped explain that despite the intrusion and collective influence of all that is around you, in the melting pot that is New York City, and all other travels, it is the basics, your roots, in her case described as “those staple pantry ingredients,” that take the base for everything one creates. “The flavors are in my mind,” explained Ripert, comparing them to notes in the head of a musician, or colors in the head of a painter; “they are a very abstract and innate thing.”
Ultimately then, finding and imparting flavor is a creative journey, unique to each his own, according to the two great food minds. Whether French, American, Japanese, or one of the other many influences that make up America as it is, the range of emotion backing each culinary dish is a product of influences from childhood to a growing repertoire of experience and new feeling. The basis, however, is decidedly in the memory of taste, the desire to use those emotions in creating for others, and the ever-evolving newness of what tastes may be born in the process. We’re all looking forward to what “wow effects” are to come.
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