Now that technique has been learned, the next part of Tom Colicchio’s book, “Think Like A Chef” is called “Studies.”
The idea that Colicchio tries to get across in this chapter is that a very small idea can ultimately create a much larger, complex idea. The example he uses is tomatoes. First he could roast them. Then he could toss them with some pasta and fresh herbs. On the other hand, if he chops them, then he could use them as ravioli filling.
If he purees the tomatoes, he could eventually build vinaigrette and use it for a dressing on salad and seared tuna. Or he could use the tomatoes to cover sea bass, wrap it in caul fat and roast it. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Colicchio also points out that he usually starts this process with vegetables. They are the initial building block he uses to create a dish, rather than a protein.
The most important paragraph in the chapter starts with this sentence: “To truly understand how a chef thinks, it’s important to grasp this concept: I am always thinking outward, from one idea to many.” In other words, he doesn’t start off by thinking about a finished dish such as filet mignon with grilled asparagus. He thinks instead, “I’ve got really nice asparagus, that might go well with the filet mignon I have.”
There are three studies in this chapter, each one starting with a basic ingredient. The first is roasted tomatoes.
My plan: I finally have a week or two to re-start my cooking. If all goes well, I should be able to roast tomatoes on Saturday, and then make Colicchio’s Roasted Tomato, Zucchini, and Eggplant Lasagna on Sunday. I am excited about that dish in particular, because I need to change it a bit in order to make it gluten free.