The other day I caught one of my favorite preparations from the restaurant
on film digitally: braising octopus. Michael is passionate about where these animals come from and he works hard to keep its preparation consistent. I love watching it start to finish and it's my favorite dish to order or suggest to friends who come in.
Octopus is easier to mess up than it is to make delicious and tender. I've worked with chefs who are good at both destroying and honoring this incredible creature. Some say it's outcome has to do with the size of the animal but I disagree as I've had both young and mature rubbery octopus. I think, as with all ingredients, animal or not, it has to do with understanding the molecular make-up of the ingredient's flesh, skeleton and its natural habitat. A collard green likes to be cooked longer than spinach because it grows in harsher conditions and its leaves are much thicker. Some citrus peels needs a lot of blanching before candying, while another needs none.
I have some conflict with eating octopus because I have always felt related to the sea and all the creatures who live in water. When it comes into the restaurant I try to send my thoughts its way. But I was excited to have my camera to photograph some of the process the other day, because these animals are so magnificent.
Working in a restaurant is building a relationship. It's hundreds of relationships and it's one, all at the same time. One of many is the relationship we all have with the myriad of ingredients and those people who get them to us from land and sea.
As I've begun to document, photographically and with words, the daily life of the kitchen I call home, I see there are layers and layers of life going on every second, every minute, every day, with every aspect and every person and every action. It is not possible for me to tell all of these stories, I am not omniscient. I am merely attempting to give you a glimpse, a peek from the inside and to the inside, with as much respect as possible.
For more photos of the octopuses and their braise preparation, check them out on flickr.