Whether you’re an Iron Chef or a Top Chef fan you know points for “presentation” are just about as important as they are for taste.
Food always tastes better when its presentation reflects the artistry of the chef’s imagination. I’ve been fortunate enough to see first-hand how the art of food drives the world renowned Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck.
Last year, while working with Wolfgang on his new brand identity, I gained a new appreciation for culinary design. In a “A Day In the Life”-style adventure, a photographer and I followed Wolfgang around on one of his typically whirlwind L.A. days. I realized I was shadowing a true artist at work. Every moment of his day is filled with exquisite design decisions, which results in thoughtful and beautifully created food that piques our senses and fills our souls. We began to refer to him as the Picasso of the culinary arts.
Our particular day started by going with Wolfgang to the L.A. fish market, where he proceeded to immerse himself in the colors, smells, and textures of every piece of seafood he checked before sending them off to two of his L.A. restaurants–Spago and Cut. His attention to detail–the quality of the fish’s appearance and the key indicators of how it would taste–was remarkable.
From the fish market we headed to his casual venue, the Wolfgang Puck L.A. Bistro, where he judged the presentation and taste of every new dish for the new season, making sure it all fit his vision and delighted his palette. Wolfgang made numerous adjustments to the menu and to the restaurant’s seasonal décor. I left Bistro duly impressed by the fact that Wolfgang put as much care and effort into the outcome for the guest who spends less than $20 on a meal as he does for one who spends $200.
We ended the day in the kitchen at Spago, where Wolfgang supervised the photography for the packaging of his signature pizzas–to this he brought the same sense of creativity, passion, and eye for detail. His delivery of beautiful taste is broad and keen, as it considers all five senses.
As a designer, I’ve always been particular about how the food I prepare looks as well as the environment in which I’m about to eat. I have an annoying habit of redesigning my place setting every time I sit down for a meal. And now, after my experience with Wolfgang, I’m more inspired than ever to elevate my own hand in the culinary arts.
At our annual Duffy retreat, our designers surprised me with epicurean designer appetizers that were as well-designed as any brand identity they had created.
[Wolfgang Puck photo by Amanda Marsalis]
Principal and chairman of Duffy & Partners, Joe Duffy is one of the most respected and sought after
creative directors and thought leaders on branding and design in the world.
Joe’s work includes brand and corporate identity development for some of the world’s
most admired brands, from Aveda to Coca-Cola to Sony to Jack in the Box to
Susan G. Komen for the Cure. His work is regularly featured in leading
marketing and design publications and exhibited around the world. In 2004 he
founded Duffy & Partners as a new kind of branding and creativity company,
partnering with clients and other firms in all communication disciplines. Also
in 2004, he received the Medal from the AIGA for a lifetime of
achievement in the field of visual communications. His first book–Brand
Apart–was released in July 2005 and in 2006, he was recognized as one of the
“Fast 50” most influential people in the future of business by Fast Company.