TV shows like Iron Chef America, Top Chef and Chopped all riff on a theme of spontaneous cooking to varying degrees. Iron Chef America specifies a specific ingredient that must be showcased, Top Chef offers surprise scenarios that must be adhered to and Chopped supplies baskets of disparate ingredients that must all be utilized in a single dish. All of the shows incorporate time limits in their challenges as well. These elements often lead to some fun television, but what is really compelling is the opportunity to take part when true professionals create a delicious meal spontaneously based on what is available.
Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas in Food have, over the years become very good friends of my wife and I. With a presentation and signing of their new book, Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work at Red Fox Books, Alex & Aki along with their daughter and pup paid us an all-too-brief visit, a highlight of which was an informal dinner they cooked for us and a few friends on Friday night.