Is there such thing as an original recipe? Recipe innovation and recipe development can be a huge challenge in the food blogging space. Matthew Robinson introduces some ideas to help you take your recipe creation to the next level with new, disruptive ideas for recipe inspiration.
New Ideas Come Only With New Inspiration
Like a good dish requires fresh ingredients, creating something new requires fresh information, aka inspiration. Why do we need new inspiration? Because creating something new is about making new “connections.” If you keep connecting the same information together, you’ll get the same result. Keep adding cheese, even different cheeses, to scrambled eggs and you still have scrambled eggs with cheese. There are some flavour variations, but in our current food blog world, scrambled eggs and cheese is same old same old.
This is the food blogger’s dilemma: how can a food blog stay fresh, new and innovative with their recipe development? The answer: inspiration from new and different places.
The Old Way
Classically, how do food bloggers find inspiration? Read a food magazine. Read a cookbook. Create a fusion cuisine. Go on a trip and eat the local cuisine. And, don’t forget, read other food blogs.
These food-related sources of inspiration are tried and true ways of finding new information, but they're still limiting. We can apply this new information to our dishes and blogs and, in a small way, create something new. But while these sources of inspiration are important, they typically only lead to small tweaks — let's call them incremental changes. Most food bloggers are still looking for ways to truly set themselves apart. Incremental is great, but something disruptive or radical is better.
Traditional sources of inspiration can be updated to bring something new to the party.
- Don’t just read a food magazine, go to the library and read one from 1956.
- Don’t just read a cookbook, read Escoffier or one that’s even older.
- Don’t just create a fusion of cuisines, think differently about what can be fused; perhaps different holiday foods — Christmas Foods fused with Canada Day Foods. A Canada Day Yule Log cake? Hmmm…
New Ways To Find Inspiration
Not Food — Fashion Or Something More Unusual
It makes sense that your first source of information is in the food space. But what if we looked to areas not related to foods at all? We can simply start with that great “create something new” question: what if …? What if Canadian fashion designer Véronique Miljkovitch were creating a dish? We can learn a lot about her style from a variety of sources and bring that thinking to a recipe. Here are a few facts from her website:
- Combine the raw sensuality of texture with a relaxed European fit
- Comfort is matched with elegant styling
- A collection of clothing that’s all stripes
What do these facts have to do with food? We can take hints from them to inspire something new. Here are some hints to go on: raw, texture, European, comfort and stripes. How about a mélange of raw and stewed European vegetables with comforting grains presented in a striped fashion like a cobb salad? More refining needs to be done, but any source of information can be re-envisioned to form something new and interesting.
Here’s another example: what if a bunch of chemists or engineers were starting a food blog? Answering this question would start with learning about chemists and engineers. We could then apply the facts as inspiration to create new ideas. We may have seen this work before in the food space — think molecular gastronomy.
What other what if … questions could we ask?
What if Apple Inc. were designing a restaurant?
What if Molson wanted to create new desserts?
What if Canadian Tire wanted to sell soup?
The list goes on.
Break The Rules
In food blogging there are a variety of rules that seem to define the space: blogs are written in text; they have videos, pictures and infographics. We see rules in other food spaces. People go to a restaurant, order, eat, then pay.
How can rules be broken to create a new and different experience? Could a food blog or recipe be “written” using only symbols? Could a restaurant be paid for like a subscription?
There are rules for food too. Scrambled eggs are always served hot, but under what conditions could a scrambled egg recipe be fantastic cold? The beloved Canadian dessert, the Nanaimo bar, is sweet. Could there be a savoury version? Write down the rules you follow and break them.
Another source of inspiration is the people around us. Talk to people. Interview them for a different perspective. Let’s take our scrambled egg example. Lots of times our eggs are served with coffee, but have we ever talked to our local barista about what type of egg dishes go best with coffee? What origin or roast of coffee might we add directly to the eggs to create something new? The local barista will have a different perspective.
You could do the same with an architect or a local mixologist. What would a marriage counselor say about how to make a classic, long lasting food pairing? Interview one and find out. Each person will give new facts, perspectives and inspiration that can be used to create something very new and fresh.
A Final Thought
At the foundation of creating a new recipe or giving blog posts a fresh angle is inspiration. To create something great, the blogger must look beyond the classic sources to make new connections and create powerful new ideas. It doesn’t end at the idea, though. The idea must be taken off paper and turned into reality. In food blogger parlance, it’s not enough to write the recipe, you must cook the dish.
The only way to know if the inspiration has brought about the most powerful idea is to experience it first-hand, get feedback and tweak it until perfection. For food bloggers wishing to grow and create something really new and innovative, new ideas are great, but the bloggers who bring them to life are the ones that will be truly inspired.
Questions? Send them to email@example.com. Be sure to check out Matthew's other article for FBC, Using a Simple Innovation Process in Recipe Development for more ideas to on creating original recipes.
Matthew Robinson blogs at The Culinary Exchange, a go-to destination for key food topics including basic cooking and recipes, food technology and innovation, as well as interviews with leading food industry experts and an engaging series about burning food issues. He’s the author of Knickerbocker Glory: A Chef’s Guide to Innovation in the Kitchen and Beyond. Matthew has spent two decades in the food industry as a scientist, spokesperson and product developer, and currently consults on food and innovation issues at exCLAIM International. He has an M.S. from The University of Georgia in Nutrition Science and is a graduate of the professional culinary program at The French Culinary Institute in New York City. He resides in Amsterdam.