By Chef Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
'Cuisine or Death.’ For many years that was my code in the kitchen: a half-serious way to motivate cooks in the face of minor adversity or toward the unobtainable ideal of perfection. A fellow chef once told me he had adopted a similar (if slightly more introspective) military mantra: adapt, improvise, overcome. In thinking about the meaning of craftsmanship, I slowly realized how each of those words symbolizes distinct stages in development, marking key points in a cook’s training. One can’t progress to the next level without successfully mastering the last.
Knowledge, in any craft, is cumulative in nature and exponential in its possible effects. Only through rote mastery of fundamentals, followed by repetitive practice, can a craftsman (whether cook, musician, or architect) approach anything resembling inspired creativity—or, in other words, art. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather in relation to one’s overall experience and skill set. In this way, good food is the result of many tiny accomplishments, some we can see immediately, and others that take years to germinate.