By Raw Chef Dan
So a funny thing is happening in my world right now. One of them being a conversation I had yesterday about a possible recipe development job.
First a little back story; Way back in 1999 when I first opened Quintessence we were the only game in town or the whole of USA for that matter. We started out with a very well thought out eclectic and divers menu. One item we had on there was a raw ravioli made from a variety or pâté fillings folded into a paper thin slice of turnip creating a dumpling-like morsel that could be accompanied by various sauces. We actually had to buy a big Electric Deli Slicers to get the precession cuts needed for such thin turnip slices. One of my all-time favorite raviolis we made was the Sundried Tomato and Basil Pâté filling served with Pesto Sauce topped with Black Pepper and chopped Tomato.
Over the nearly 14 years we have been open I have made every ravioli you can think of from basic cheese with tomato sauce to spinach mushroom with black pepper gravy. I remember back when one of our first competitors opened, for years they shadowed my menu. Many times I would put something new on the menu at Quintessence and then they would have the same dish a week or two later. Once in October I put a Pumpkin Ravioli on the menu for the first time ever and days later they had a Pumpkin Ravioli. Hhhaa Flattered? I guess. Kinda pissed? Maybe a little more so.
Other variations with Asian Dumplings and Dim Sum styles thrown in the mix specials floated on and off the menu for years. I remember one of my favorites was the Thai Dumplings, with a Thai spiced filling and Thai Basil Pesto and Chili sauce.
Now the flood of Juice places that are popping up everywhere are carrying a selection of Grab-N-Go raw food products. Being these new shops are hiring chefs from the local area who would have inherently been a patron of Quintessence are now creating for these new enterprises. And of course one of the dishes that most of the new companies are doing is, you guessed it, Raw Ravioli in Turnip Skins. Now they cannot of course copy us exactly because it has taken us 13 years to master our craft and the related recipes. They have tried their best but it’s just not the same; the textures not right, weird flavor combinations … something’s off with all of them but still it is a good dish for those who don’t know any different.
So back to my phone call.
I was speaking on the phone with a friend who is working on developing products for a new store. He calls me to help him with the food part. One item he requested several times in the conversation was the raviolis by a particular store here in NYC. He asked me if I think I could copy these Raviolis. I laughed and said are you kidding me? Keep in mind he has known me and Quintessence for 10 years or so. This is a joke right? He responded with a “Aahh, what do you mean”. Then of course I said “why would I copy their ravioli when they copied me? I mean why do you want to pay me to try and replicate a product that is a bad version of the original when I am the guy who made the original they failed to replicate”? That’s insane and kind of insulting.
This is not my first time with this situation and not even the first time with the raviolis; my raviolis.
Chia Pudding also keeps popping up in the same manner. “Do you think you can copy so-n-so’s chia pudding”? I’m like, WHAT? Really? Well, daahhh, I don’t know, Ahhh, maybe aahhh, since they copied it from me aahhhh, maybe I could figure out their less than great version of my own creation aaahhh. Hey then I could fix it while I am at it so it doesn’t tastes like shit anymore.
For the past 10 years or so since Chia was brought to the market I have been making all kinds of chia puddings. I figured it out one day messing around with chia in the kitchen. Watching how they soaked up water and became little Tapioca-Like beads I thought, what if the beads where flavored. “If I soak them in the flavor I want they will soak it up and fill up with that flavor.
Boom, Chia Pudding was born! Before that people just blended chia into their smoothies or eat them off a spoon and wash it down with water. No One was making food with Chia Seeds.
Since then I have made Chocolate Chia Pudding, Coffee Chia Pudding, Chai Chia Pudding, Yerba Mate Latte Chia Pudding, even Caviar but I’m not going to tell you how here. I don’t want to see it pop up on some ones menu LOL.
I have taught Chia creations to student and served it at dinner parties in parfaits as puddings even Ice Cream Toppings all over Japan and Thailand for the past 8 years. It’s what I have been doing for a very long time.
Now my job is to get paid to copy myself!
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA