Chefs at El Bulli meticulously sculpted each of their dishes in plasticine, to help visualize what food should look like every time it’s plated. In a similar vein, the Spanish restaurant Mugaritz—ranked one of the world’s top 10 restaurants–assembles a wall full of marker drawings to brainstorm their menu in the off season.
What you see here are 81 different ideas that a team of 10 chefs puts forth during the four months a year that Mugaritz is closed. They’d be groomed to become 50 new dishes for the season. Zoom into any one dish, and you’ll see just how low-fidelity these drawings can be. Sure, you can spot the occasional inspired bit of shading, but many pieces–most, even–are sub-Post-it level sketches, indistinguishable from the quick marker smears of preschoolers.
Why sketch them out like this rather than cook and then photograph each dish? The kitchen’s goal here is speed and fluid thinking–lightning-fast iteration to promote creativity.
“The stiffness of everyday work is broken, we sacrifice perfection in order to gain flexibility,” they write on their blog. In other words, when an idea is scribbled on paper, it has no boundaries. Luckily, the food tastes better than it looks.