The Culinary Creative Process

In their 2008 article “The Mystery in the Kitchen: Culinary Creativity”, Jeou-Shyan Horng and Meng-Lei Monica Hu explored how well Graham Wallas model of creativity applied to the culinary arts. Below is our representation on the Wallas model as adapted in their findings.

Phase 1: Preparation

Collecting and organizing knowledge, information and skills lays the groundwork for culinary creativity.

Prep Ideas

Associating inspiring ideas forms the first assimilation of creative concepts. These ideas may complement each other, or create a desired contrast.

Organize Experiences

Culinary artists initially imitate others to establish knowledge and skills, then progress to developing creative variations based on their personal experiences.

Phase 2: Incubation

Through a process of combining, refining and elimination, a single concept to pursue is chosen.

Idea Selection

Based on the desired outcome, ideas are assessed and either eliminated, temporarily shelved for use at another time, or refined further.

Transfer/Reduction

Culinary ideas that fit one model or are often applied in a completely new way. Ideas that show promise in one aspect are often reduced to the desired element.

Synthesis

A singular concept or approach emerges as ideas are combined in new and unique ways.

Phase 3: Illumination

As an idea and creative work develops, new features emerge, are assessed, and ultimately selected.

Attributes

While a creation is continually assessed throughout the process, it is only after a work is completed that it can be empirically evaluated.

Conceptual attributes are defined into more concrete concepts.

Interpretation

Combinations that improve on existing designs create new and unique attributes.

Functional Inference

Possible functions, or uses, of a concept are explored and decided upon.

Context Shifting

By shifting the way we perceive a concept and seeing it from a different perspective, new
attributes or functions may be uncovered.

Discussion

Evaluation

It’s important to exchange ideas and techniques with colleagues.

Illumination

The moment of insight arrives, as the final form of a creative effort is made clear. How to solve the key problem finally becomes evident.

Phase 4: Verification

In the culinary arts, aesthetics are evaluated by gustatory, tactile, and visual values. Feedback serves as information for future creative endeavors.

Evaluation

Did the finished product of the creative effort meet any established objectives? Repeated experimentation is performed by the best artists.

Hypothesis Testing

While a creation is continually assessed throughout the process, it is only after a work is completed that it can be empirically evaluated.