Inspiration is all around us, and we continue to be inspired by you. The chefs out there who are giving back during this trying time, the chefs who are unlocking new ways to stay in business and the chefs who use their voices to impact one of our nation’s most vital industries. Hear from Chef Keller, below in his own words, on what inspiration means to him.
I think inspiration is one of those things that happens very rarely in life. I think I’ve been inspired maybe three or four times. The Coronet was a true inspiration. The Oyster and Pearl was a true inspiration, and maybe Coffee and Donuts was an inspiration. But I think that we have to realize that inspiration can come from anywhere. I think the most important thing to do as we walk through our daily lives, if we truly want to be inspired, you first have to be aware of the world around you.
I’ll tell you the story of the Oyster and Pearl. I was in a grocery store in Napa Valley, soon after I moved there, and I was walking down the aisles. I don’t go to grocery stores very often because I have everything I need to eat at the restaurants. But I was in the store, and a purple box caught my eye. Colors like purple or blue are not usually associated with food. It was a box of tapioca, and on the box it said “pearl tapioca.” And I thought, “Where do pearls come from but oysters?” And I bought that box of tapioca and went back to the restaurant and did what I thought was illogical, making tapioca pudding, which we’re all very used to. We’ve had sweet tapioca pudding many times in life. They made it savory and topped it with some oysters. That’s where pearls come from. Then, made it luxurious by putting caviar on top.
That was all because I was aware, while walking down the aisle of the grocery store, looking at different things just catching my eye. But awareness is key. Awareness leads to inspiration. Inspiration leads to interpretation.
So I’ve been inspired by something else in the world – a leaf that’s falling from a tree, which can be interpreted by a number of different things. If you’re a chef, you can interpret it as something that’s culinary. If you’re a poet, you can write a poem. If you’re an artist, you can draw it or paint a painting. Anything can inspire us. We need to make sure that we understand that and are aware of it, because inspiration can happen at any moment and you want to be there to embrace it.