Finding food inspiration online and beyond

I made this the other night as a last stitch effort to break the boring chicken and veg dinners that I mostly eat during the week, that if I’m honest don’t make it onto the Instagram stories (after all who wants to see a repeat of the same shit over and over again). The dish itself is is nothing special but that’s the beauty of it – hear me out. Having decided I wanted to change things up and inject some excitement I had a quick look at what was available in the house and ended up having one of the nicest meals in a  long time. Throughout the week people have been asking me how I think of new dishes and make them look so appealing.

The answer…. frankly I don’t know because as I said there is nothing special about this dish. Look at it! It is literally a breast of chicken, a tortilla wrap and some veggies with a tablespoon of chipotle sauce from the bottle. That is why I think it is so great. Simple ingredients that are available in all stores and most likely already sitting in the fridge in your house right now. I had gotten the idea to make this from a random post on Instagram earlier that day which happened to catch my attention.

I get by with  a little help from my friends…. online

Find your tribe and do what they do. When it comes to creating new recipes I always try to take inspiration from whoever I can without completely ripping them off. Instagram a great platform for getting new ideas and is widely used by some of the best foodies out there to promote their own creations. Even better is there are plenty of “normal” people who are also great cooks that post pictures of food that actually look like it hasn’t been painted onto the screen. Further more, chances are that their ingredients and cooking methods are more applicable and easier to relate to because they cook as a side gig, on a budget, in a small kitchen with basic equipment. The added benefit of food finding food inspiration online is that you don’t always need an exact recipe to recreate it. In saying that sometimes a recipe is required especially when baking or cooking large quantities of food over long periods of time. But most of the time all you really need is a picture and Boooom there it is an idea for something different.

I’ll use the featured image as an example. So say you’re scrolling through Instagram and you come across the picture above. Straight away you can see what it involves: chicken, tortillas, peppers, red onions, tomatoes, spinach and jalapenos. Again all of which are very easy to source. Next is the caption “chipotle”chicken. Even if you have no idea what this is – Google it and in less then 5 seconds you’ll have an idea of what chipotle is, where it comes from, what its made from, where you can buy it and even how to make it if you really want to go that extra step. The point being is that not all recipes require the exact ingredients. Simply by looking at a picture is more than suffice as you can tweak it overtime to make it look or taste better.

Going beyond the shackles of the screens bright light

Unfortunately there is a downside to finding inspiration for food online because the inability to taste what you see. Yep, food that is appealing to look at will always generate an interest at first glance. However, taste is King and is far more powerful on the senses than sight. Besides being social and having fun, eating out is an amazing experience. Fortunately living in Dublin has allowed me to visit many of the restaurants, deli’s, cafes, coffee shops, smoke houses and burger joints around the city. I recommend wherever you live to try sample different places and draw inspiration from how they do things.

Roughly 5 years ago when I was still working in kitchens my life was completely taken over by food and how to improve. Back then I was on a whole different level compared to now. Eager to watch, taste, eat and understand why people where cooking the way they did was an obsession. I was eating all around me eager to know. At restaurants after having a 3 course meal I would order another dessert, not because I was hungry but merely intrigued by the menu that I had to know how it was made and how it tasted. I was a sucker for it. Luckily back then I was a lot younger and my metabolism burned like a house on fire. As the years went on, I moved on of kitchens, no longer a chef I became less active began to see the weight pilling on.

So I  cut back on the amount if food being consumed, eating more at home and to some extent everything in moderation. But still, to this day I am a sucker for seeing something on a menu and wanting to have it. That obsession still lurks in the background but I suppose I have become more aware of it and want to control it. I guess its jut the excitement of eating out that leads to eyes-bigger-than-bellyitus. When there’s something on the menu that’s a “must have” I just make sure to only order the one and not five.

On a final note, they way in which I cook is heavily influenced by many different factors ranging from budget, diet, time frames, work – life balance to name a few. Most nights I”ll eat the same food just because its economical and efficient and then when I have some free time I’ll usually try something new. It doesn’t always work out .Cooking is a skill, therefore anyone can learn how to do it. At times it can be really frustrating because of how consuming it becomes and the end result doesn’t always meet what we expected. But that’s okay because if that happens at least you know what NOT to do the next time. Just give it a little tweak and try again in a few days. Stick with it and practice the same recipes one or twice a week and overtime you will begin to notice ways of improving it. Keep a diary of any changes in the ingredients or methods and before you know it it becomes a staple of your weekly breakfast/lunch/dinner and then its time to find the next one. Remember, one dish at a time. Try it, improve it, master it and then move on.

 

Hope this post provides some insight when looking for some food inspo. The beauty of social media is that there is a surplus of supply out there. The same goes for eating out as any reputable food joint worth visiting is sure to have a  social media presence. Its just a matter of finding like minded folks and following in their footsteps.

 

Have a good weekend – happy eating

Shane

 

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