Cuisine as Art, Craft and Trade
Cuisine is a concept that may be perceived in various ways. These different points of view can be seen in the current food industry, where establishments incorporate their own take on the provision of dishes. This essay will consist of discussions on three different restaurants in Wellington and their own perspectives on food, which have been separated into art, craft and trade. It will include reasons behind the statuses of the restaurants and the chefs who are preparing the food, as well as each of their purposes in the creation of dishes.
Cuisine as Art
Art may refer to the creation of sensory experiences which can satisfy audiences (Malchiodi, 2011). This factor has been known to bring together people with shared interests, and to make things more valuable. Rather than just being something beautiful, this concept has now been regarded as a way of expressing emotions (Marder, 2018). This has resulted in the addition of aesthetics into the daily life, which is being practiced currently.
Incorporating aesthetics has been done mainly by high-end restaurants, such as Boulcott Street Bistro. This can be seen from the attention to details being put in the dining area, to the focus on presentation of the food. One reason for this is to use visual aspects as an attracting factor (Graham, 2015). Aside from making sure that their customers are enjoying their dining experiences, the menu has also received a lot of thoughts and efforts to put together dishes that will suit the concept of the establishment.
Due to the classic concept of the restaurant, most of the dishes are traditional. One of them is the signature dish of an aged beef, which is accompanied with Béarnaise sauce and a red wine jus (Boulcott Street Bistro, 2018). This dish brings back memories of a classic French dining, and may give off vibes from the ancient times. The maintenance of the flavor is important to preserve its authenticity, which can evoke the same experiences and emotions for the customers.
However, it can be seen that the chef is also trying to create new food items with flavors that are obtained from other cultures. An example for this is having tempeh, which is originally from Indonesia, as an entrée item that is served with a locally produced feta cheese. This shows how the restaurant is breaking out of the boundaries and experimenting on different flavor combinations, which further offers customers a wider range of dishes that they may be interested in.
A main dish consisting of fish has been served with wilted greens and preserved butter (Boulcott Street Bistro, 2018). This dish proves how contrasting elements can be suitable for each other. Fishes are known to be cooked while they are still fresh from the catch, while the accompanying greens and butter in the dish has been prepared for a long period of time instead. This concept might raise interest in some of the customers. It as well provides an indication of the great effort being put in the dish and also highlight the local ingredients being used.
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Cuisine as Craft
Craft may be described as the skill of creating desirable products (Matheson, 2014). This knowledge and ability is practiced in middle-range restaurants, as the chefs tend to require experience to produce dishes of a certain standard. Most of the establishments in this level focus on a single cuisine in order to specialize in the cookery methods required. This improves their efficiency as the ingredients and equipment being utilized will also be from the same origin.
PappaRich is an ethnic restaurant in Wellington that offers Malaysian cuisine. The menu here does not change as customers often visit the establishment to enjoy the authentic tastes of popular dishes from the country. Therefore, the production process involves repetitions of the same cooking techniques in order to recreate traditional flavors from the culture. Certain skills are required by the chefs, and these are often obtained from long practices.
One of the signature dishes in the restaurant is the nasi lemak, which usually comes with chicken curry and prawn sambal (PappaRich, 2018). This traditional food item involves different methods of preparation for each of the elements. By following the same original recipe and use of spices, the product created will be achieved with the same result every time. This also suggests that the constant repetition may improve the skills and techniques of the chef over a period of time.
As the restaurant focuses on ethnic cuisine, the flavor combinations of the dishes are maintained to follow the traditions. Therefore, the chefs cannot modify recipes or add their own ideas to alter the menu. This restriction also applies to presentation ideas, as the menu includes images of the dishes in order to help customers understand what they should be expecting. The chefs should thus follow the same plating methods as the ones shown in the menu.
Cuisine as Trade
Trade is an activity that involves the purchase and sell of goods and services (Investopedia, 2018). This is most commonly found in low-end restaurants due to their main focus of earning profit. These kinds of restaurants tend to move in a fast pace in order to serve more customers, and they usually do not pay close attention to the presentation of food. This might be because food is only viewed as a mean of satisfying biological needs, and not something luxurious. They generally offer a large number of food items and would stick with the same menu.
An example of a low-end food outlet in Wellington is Top Kitchen. It is popular for its offer of Chinese cuisine, and a lot of customers would also stop by for takeaways. This is because the ingredients have been prepared beforehand, which allows the dishes to be cooked and served within a short period of time. Additionally, the prices of the food items are in the lower range which makes it an attractive factor to a large group of people.
Due to the limited amount of space in the kitchen, only a small number of cooks are working at a time. This allows them to speed up their cooking process as they are allowed more movements. It also shows how the cooks are experienced, despite not having so much recognition amongst the public. However, their skills have only been put to use for the same techniques and resulting products, rather than being utilized for experiments and to create new dishes.
One of the dishes that is well liked by the customers is the orange chicken. It is a classic food in the Chinese culture, and consists of deep fried pieces of chicken that is served with a sweet orange sauce. The texture and flavor combination achieved in the dish shows more of a skill in the production rather than a creation of art. This is because the elements in the dish are quite simple, and there are not so much different flavors that can be explored.
Even though customer service is not a main concern of the restaurant, it seems to be more valued when compared to the design of the menu and the food items. This is because the food outlet has a great number of regular customers who are more likely to purchase their products compared to the newer ones. A great experience for existing customers will also help to improve their loyalty towards the establishment for a longer period of time (Adams, 2016).
In conclusion, different concepts can be applied by different restaurants depending on their perspectives of cuisine. This also determines the statuses of the businesses, as well as the quality of their products. More attention to details and creativity in the menu can be found in high-end restaurants that view cuisine as art, because they focus on creating aesthetics in the environment. When viewed as craft, cuisine is more focused on the skills that are required to create the dishes. This is mostly seen in ethnic restaurants that follow traditions. In trade, food items are created quickly without paying much attention to presentation in order to serve more customers, as the main aim is to earn profit in low-end food outlets.
Adams, R. L. (2016). 10 reasons why good customer service is your most important metric. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284799
Boulcott Street Bistro. (2018). Boulcott street bistro menu. Retrieved from https://boulcottstreetbistro.co.nz/
Graham, A. (2015). The aesthetics of food presentation. Retrieved from https://www.theclothesmaiden.com/the-aesthetics-of-food-presentation/
Investopedia. (2018). Trade. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/trade.asp
Malchiodi, C. (2011). What is art for? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201107/what-is-art
Marder, L. (2018). Ways of defining art. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-definition-of-art-182707
Matheson, K. (2014). What is craft? What is art? Does it matter? Retrieved from https://www.krismatheson.com/journal/what-is-craft-what-is-art-does-it-matter
PappaRich. (2018). Papparich menu. Retrieved from https://papparichnz.co.nz/menu/