Simplicity: Evidence of Mastery

March 31st, 2011

Mostly Martha is beautiful film about a chef in Hamburg, Germany. At the beginning of the film, Martha, played by Martina Gedeck, makes the following observation about the best chefs:

One knows a good chef by the quality of his simplest dishes.

Take for instance salmon in a light basil sauce. Most people think it’s no big deal and put it on the menu. But frying or steaming a salmon just right and putting the right amount of salt and spices in the sauce is very difficult.

In this recipe there is nothing to distract you. No design. No exotic ingredients. There’s only the fish. And the sauce. The fish and the sauce.

The evidence of mastery is our ability to deliberately omit exotic, distracting ingredients. What remains is something people can savor for its simplicity and potent flavors.

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