The current Wall Street Journal Magazine queries six luminaries on the topic of discipline. Among those asked were designer Karl Lagerfeld, performance artist Marina Abramovic and London-based restaurateur and author of “Plenty” and “Jerusalem,” Yotam Ottolenghi. Here’s what he had to say about discipline in the kitchen.
"I don't think discipline applies to one single school of cooking. I don't think molecular gastronomy requires more discipline than rustic French cooking or mama's cooking in a Greek village. It's the idea that you put yourself completely into the process of cooking and don't cut corners. For me that applies to every kind of cooking. It's all about being alert to what's going on in the pot or in the pan. It's about a state of mind.
"I know a lot of people have this romantic image of going to the market and rummaging through your spice cabinet, but actually I do a lot of groundwork before I go into the kitchen to try things out. You really need to sit and think if you're going to produce quality recipes every week.
"There's something about the physical work in the kitchen — there's a limit to how much you can do. Even in the busiest kitchen, there's always a point at the end of the day when you go home."
His comments make a lot of sense and go a long way toward understanding why Ottolenghi is no flash in the pan. He’s thoughtful, a hard worker, and in the end, a gifted cook who loves what he does.