Get Inspired and Make it Your Own

It’s been about seven weeks since my last event. The beginning of the year typically brings on more personal plan clients while the events pour in closer to the holiday season. This is not a huge problem because it seems to create a nice balance, but I feel like I begin to get into a creative rut without events. While I enjoy both personal plans and events, I cannot put as much creativity into the dishes that I pack for future consumption. There is something special about putting a dish together from start to finish, delivering it from mind to plate, and seeing the enjoyment that it brings (or doesn’t but I’d like to think that is a rarity).

So, I typically try to get a little research and development in during this time of year. Research at restaurants, in magazines, cookbooks, etc. and development in my own kitchen. A couple of days ago I began topping eggs for a recipe out of the The French Laundry cookbook and never finished. I have a really difficult time sourcing ingredients in this new place I call home. When I need things like truffles, fois gras, or caviar, I have to make a trek back home about 150 miles round trip. Or I can just alter the recipe. This happens with almost all recipes that I follow anyway. I don’t really follow them so much as use them as a guideline. It is how I believe recipes should be used. This way, you get the technique down, but can still include a piece of you in it. “Unoriginal”, you say? What about music or art? Just about anything that takes an ounce of creativity can be related back to something that has been done before. The key is to make it unique to you and better…. if you can. And don’t get me wrong, I often times come up with new ideas without looking for inspiration first, however I typically find that when I do, I always end up somehow seeing it done in some way somewhere else before or after.

For this version of “White Truffle Oil-Infused Custards with Black Truffle Ragout” I just made the custard and chip. I left the ragout off because it called for black truffle which I don’t have on hand. Now that I have the egg topping, custard, and chip down, I can put whatever flavor I want into it. I really think I could use this as a nice little surprise amuse bouche for one of my events and I’d want it to fit into the theme of the menu. Will it be “better” than the original? I’m thinking, absolutely not! We are talking about Thomas Keller and The French Laundry here. But, will it be delicious, beautiful, and make my clients happy? I’m thinking, Yes. And that’s what matters to me.

I’m not going to post a recipe, because you can just find it in the book yourself and either follow it exactly or make it your own. Just know, if you don’t have the slightest bit of cooking knowledge or skill (That chip in this recipe is NOT easy by the way), you probably shouldn’t be attempting recipes from The French Laundry. Try something like “Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee”. Okay, that was rude. I don’t know. Maybe try something by Ina Garten. There, that’s better. Less “fine dining”, more “weekly meal plans”.

I said I was going to keep these short and simple. I guess I got a little carried away this time. You have my word that the next one will be much shorter and will even include a recipe of my own. This week I’ve done three personal meal plans, but Saturday! Saturday I have a dinner party for ten. Maybe I’ll do a surprise amuse bouche with a topped egg and custard dish…

Stay Hungry. Learn. Create. Inspire. Cheers!


Jillian believes her passion for cooking stems from the fact that she was born and raised in Southern California. The best climate conditions for growing the finest produce all year around and the diverse mix of cuisines have always been an inspiration to her. Her love and ability to make people happy by way of delicious food began at an early age and still grows today. She is the proud Chef and Owner of Jillian Fae Chef Services, a personal chef business specializing in private dinner parties, customized menus, and weekly meal preparation.

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