NEW FRONTIERS: Creative Spaces
Chefs are prioritizing creativity like never before. They’re setting aside time to think about dish ideas and inspiration and, where possible, investing in a creative space. Maybe the inspiration of Adrià’s El Taller inspired it at first, but the trend we’re seeing now isn’t about having a test kitchen, expensive equipment, or a boat like the Noma-adjacent Nordic Food Lab. It’s about finding creative space or time wherever possible. Young chefs like Chris Ford of Baltimore’s Wit & Wisdom converted his dining room into an office-cum-lab, surrounding himself with sketchpads and his iPad to form dish concepts. The whole concept behind Matt Lightner’s new New York restaurant, Atera, is one of an elaborate test kitchen rather than restaurant, featuring a “1,400-square-foot “laboratory” [that’s] three times the size of the 25-seat restaurant.” But it’s not about creating a space necessarily, as much as a time (like at Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, where a blackboard and think tank approach come into play) or environment to think about creativity in food. Take Woodberry Kitchen, where Spike Gjerde and Ideas in Food duo Alex and Aki lock themselves away to mull things over, and come up with ideas as simple, and fundamental, as producing house-made vinegars.