Of Artists and Chefs as Parents and Children – the Evolution of Taste

From a 2012 Bay Area Bites interview with the great Jacques Pepin, elaborating on something he wrote in the foreword of Essential Pépin:

“The appetites of a young, middle-aged, and an older man are different…”

Leaning back in the couch in KQED’s greenroom, Jacques notes that as you get older your metabolism changes, but also that, “as a young chef, you tend to add to the plate. To add, to add, to add! And as you get older, you start to clean up, clean up, clean up the plate! Until you are left with the essential thing: that tomato right there, that olive oil, at that temperature.”

I wonder aloud if this a function of being a young chef, of trying to impress people. “It’s a function of life,” Jacques tells me and likens it to being a painter. “An artist is going to clean, a kind of a purification. You go through a process to get more to the essential of whatever you are working on.”

Classic philosophy whether you are a chef, an artist, or creative of any type.  The effects of experience and age on refinement of style are universal.  Lucianovic and Pepin continue:

One could hypothesize that so-called picky children are like this. They start with the essentials, the simple foods… and when they are taking in so much information at once as they develop and grow, it makes sense that they would stick with foods that are comforting and familiar to them, things they can count on… Jacques laughs and acknowledges that when kids reach a certain age, they want to conform to the other children around them.

re: Pushing foodie-ism; and Parents concerned with the maturation of children’s palates

Jacques’ response: America is a country of extremes; We go from 15-hour dishes to 15-second microwave dinners, and that there was a time where food wasn’t really discussed at the table. It was there and you ate it. However, now we have the opposite situation where we’re discussing and analyzing everything and expecting our kids to do the same.

“The kid is not meant to do that. No, the kid is just meant to enjoy the food, eat it, and that’s it,” Jacques pronounces.

An interesting point to begin discussion:

As kids stop taking cues from the external and become teenagers with their own identity, their desire for individuality rises parallel to their need for validation; they gravitate towards the means of expression and connections, and engage with what they are uniquely interested in.  What makes them different is just as important as what makes them part of a group, their clique.

And so this is where Holy Stitch! diverges from Jacques:

While it’s important to just let kids be kids, teens and young adults need a bit more specific guidance and leadership.  Our mission is to spark, cultivate, and sharpen that analytical and intuitive ability so that these raw Youth become bleeding edge knives in whatever avenue they wish to explore – whether food, fashion, art, software, or…?  The earlier the better…


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