What makes a chef who he is -- his style, his ego, his work ethic, even his temper?
Who he is and how he cooks is made possible by thousands of circumstances, and people. Everything that touches us shapes out thoughts.
People I knew briefly left their influence. The Greek fellow Chef Jimmy in San Francisco had been cooking on a steamboat traveling the world when I met and cooked with him. Jerimiah Tower, the father of California Cuisine, had an incredible impact on my style of cooking. Not just the style but my very thought process in cooking was changed. The many Mexican friends I worked with in California who's cooking style and bold simple flavors also influenced who I am today in the kitchen.
And finally my mother and father. My mom cooked with love and when I was young my father commercial fished. These things are in my blood and come through in my cooking.
I lovingly call my food "redneck fusion." It has to do with the melding of all of my experiences into my cuisine. It takes years in the kitchen to truly know who you are and where you came from. Your roots are a good place to start.
Being a good cook certainly helps. All chefs are not good cooks, contrary to popular belief. They know the fundamentals of cooking, but somehow lack the god-given talent of a proper palette. A palette with a memory is very important. To visualize and be able to recall tastes from years ago and put it together with my current skill set. Staying inspired and focused are the final elements which you have to keep close.
I enjoy my French culinary education, upon which I have built my
reputation over the years. But getting to get in touch with my "roots" doing a California Taco place Birdrock is from my early chef days in San Diego and Baja California and to my Fat City project at Aces doing the southern soul food with some of my earliest kitchen memories. Cooking stays fun and interesting after over 40 years in the kitchen.
A little bit of talent and enthusiasm have taken me on a wonderful journey, and I get to end up in my beloved home town of Bradenton to continue to practice my craft on my friends. What more could you ask for?
2 ears of corn
2 tablespoons salt
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Boil ears of corn in salted water 5 minutes. Remove kernels when cooled with knife.
In a bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. In another bowl, stir together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Quickly fold the flour mixture into the milk mixture. Do not overmix. Stir in the corn kernels just until evenly distributed. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.
Chef Dave Shiplett, chef/owner of SOMA Creekside, can be reached at 941-567-4001. SOMA Creekside is at 1401 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.