Nelson Millán, Executive Chef of San Antonio Country Club, went to some of France’s most iconic restaurants. He returned to club inspired and eager to apply what he learned.
At my core, I am a chef. And as such, I must stay current with trends, techniques, products, and skills. I must constantly evolve and push to make each dish better than the last.
There is an element of artistry in what we do and how we do it so chefs are constantly seeking inspiration that not only stimulates the eyes, but all the senses all at once.
For me, inspiration can come from myriad sources—from books and magazines, to local markets and television shows, to music and even casual conversations with colleagues. Traveling is also an amazing source of inspiration.
Last month, I had the unique opportunity to go to France and visit my son who has been living in Carentan, Normandy since May teaching English to middle- and high-school students. I was able to spend ten days exploring the cities between Normandy and Paris, stopping at many of the restaurants on my personal bucket list.
Talk about being inspired….
Before leaving for France, I downloaded all the episodes of Netflix’s Chef’s Table France in preparation for our 12 hour trip from Los Angeles to Paris. Learning about the career paths of chefs like Alain Passard, Adeline Grattard and Michel Troigros and then landing in France to experience first-hand what they explained through each story was a magic formula. I came home after experience a new culture, new products, a different ambiance, different weather and new people and hand an epiphany. One that has changed me in a very permanent way. I am more than inspired. I am reenergized and invigorated.
No matter if we went to culinary school or not, we faced the reality that most of the culinary fundamentals come from the French cuisine. Visiting France and experiencing the reasons behind so many fundamentals was a lifetime goal for both me and my son. I am so thankful we finally had the opportunity to do so.
(One last perk? I delayed writing several important wine dinner menus until I returned from France. If you look at those menus, you’ll notice all the French inspiration.)