TRANSLATION | Neda
翻開 Curious Table 首季菜單，道道以花為名的意趣菜餚，令人忍不住想像每朵盛放的燦爛光景，佇立於高山雲海、仰躺於田野鄉間，或藏身於偌大都市，九道充滿浪漫鄉愁的蔬食料理，皆是主廚 Tim 想為食客心中留下的點點日常，若潛心品味，方能從中尋得「一沙一世界，一花一天堂。」之無窮妙趣。
Opening Curious Table’s menu of the first season, there are interesting dishes named after flowers that one can’t help but imagine the splendid scene of each flower in full bloom, standing in the mountains and clouds, lying in the countryside, or hiding in the cities. The nine vegetarian dishes full of romantic nostalgia are all the little bits of daily life that Chef Tim wants to leave in the hearts of diners.
自幼在餐廳世家成長，從小接收川菜文化洗禮，先後於中西餐、烘焙糕點店歷練，擁有十四年的多元料理經驗，造就了無設限的烹調手法與靈感創意，也間接結下了 Tim 與蔬食料理的不解之緣。「我跳到西餐其實是因為賭氣，當時跟家裡有些不愉快，接觸過西餐的洗禮後，才發現原來做菜可以這麼好玩，那時候才真的覺得我想要走料理這條路。」提起做菜的最大樂趣，他表示在每個迎刃而解的過程是舒服且有成就感的，「這過程是有點痛苦，你要一直去測試，但是當你測試出一個很棒的味道時，就會覺得這些痛苦值得。」如今走在蔬食料理的風口浪尖上，正是堅持不懈的性格引領著他不斷前行，也似是為自己下了一個挑戰，試圖讓每位造訪 Curious Table 的食客驚嘆連連，進而激發潛藏內心的無垠好奇。
起初將「花」作為設計靈感，主廚 Tim 透露主要構想來自於其中一道菜餚〈山苔〉，回溯過往的登高記憶，陣陣霧氣中，似真似幻的氛圍與氣味令他難以忘懷，便渴望將縈繞腦海的唯美畫面重現於菜品，「花是比較好能連結的，在味道和畫面上，大家對於花也比較有帶入感。」爾後的延伸也以日常為軌跡，桌上所食乃是 Tim 眼裡所見，以視覺觸發味覺的巧妙轉譯，悄然呈現了別樣詩意情懷。如此雅趣更體現於採用冰滴法萃取的〈蓮花〉，費時十五分鐘修剪成型，使娃娃菜得以舒展綻放，打造盎然無比的視覺動感；主菜〈威靈頓牛排〉則使用了「西瓜」作為牛肉替代品，經由反覆的浸滷與風乾，方能成就塊塊濃縮精華的風味主餐，唯妙唯肖的外觀著實令人稱奇，而這一切的細膩巧思皆歸於主廚 Tim 的直覺式思考。
如何突破直觀角度發想創作脈絡，甚至重新定義蔬食料理，對於曾擔任小小樹食的主廚 Tim 來說，一開始確實遇到了不少難處，「小小樹食剛開的時候，我也是用吃蔬食的角度去研發菜單，但過程中的表現跟成效並不好。」轉念瞬間，他嘗試將重心移至葷食者，設身處地為他們著想，歷經幾番改革後，逐漸驗證如此心法，也間接造就了 Curious Table 的誕生。談起日常的靈感來源，Tim 笑說自己有一本死亡筆記本，先前曾發生一樁偷竊趣事，其速記也讓小偷摸不著頭緒，「因為那都是很隨性的去寫，並不是寫食譜在上面，而是我的 idea，是靈感的延伸。」他更表示最大的靈感來自於「吃」，做菜最關鍵便是自己要喜歡吃，從生活點滴中堆疊味蕾變化，方能積累創意花火的延綿乍現。晃眼間，十幾年的廚藝生涯匆匆而過，夜深人靜時，總有備感疲倦的時刻，而 Tim 給出了如此答案，「說真的講到底，開發新菜的成就感是一直支撐我走下去的動力，對我來說是這樣。」望見客人拍照留念、聽見客人稱讚好吃，看似如此簡單的反饋，恰賦予了他身為主廚的非凡意義，燦笑之間，眼底藏不住的真切，道盡了他之於「料理」二字的義無反顧。
Growing up in a restaurant family, influenced Sichuan cuisine culture since childhood, successively experienced in Chinese and Western food, bakery and pastry shops, has 14 years of multi-cuisine experience, created unlimited cooking techniques and inspirations. !(I jumped to Western food because I was a little unhappy with my family at that time. After I got in touch with Western food, I realized that cooking is such a fun thing. At that time, I really felt that I wanted to take the path of cooking.” The greatest joy of cooking, he said that in the process of solving each problem is fulfilling, “This process is a bit painful, you have to keep testing, but when you test a great taste, you will feel the pain worthy.” With the trend of vegetarian has risen, it is his perseverance that leads him to keep moving forward, and it seems that he has set a challenge for himself, trying to amaze every diner who visit Curious Table, and then stimulate the boundless curiosity hidden inside.
”Flower” was the inspiration for the design at first. Chef Tim revealed that the main idea came from one of the dishes “Attributed to Edgar Degas”. Throw back to the memory of climbing in the past, in the mist, the unforgettable atmosphere and smell seemed like reality and fantasy. He was eager to reproduce the beautiful image that haunts his mind in the dishes, “Flowers are easier to relate, and in terms of taste and image, everyone is more immersed in flowers.” The extension also took the daily life as the track, the food on the table is what Tim sees in his eyes, a clever translation that visually triggers the taste, quietly presenting a different kind of poetic feeling. Such elegance is more reflected in the “Water Lily” extracted by the ice-drop method, which takes 15 minutes to trim and shape, so that the baby Chinese cabbage can stretch and bloom, creating an incomparable visual dynamic; the main course “Wellington” uses “watermelon” instead of beef, through repeated marinating and drying, the main meal of concentrated essence can be achieved. The exquisite appearance is really amazing, and all these delicate ingenuity is attributed to Chef Tim’s intuitive way of thinking.
Daily Taste Buds
To break through the intuitive point of view and brainstorm the creativity, or even redefine vegetarian dishes, for Chef Tim, who is also the chef of Little Tree Food, he did encounter a lot of difficulties at the beginning, “When the Little Tree Food firstly opened, I also developed the menu from the perspective of eating vegetables, but the performance and results in the process were not good.!( In a flash, he tried to focus on carnivore and put himself in their shoes. After several reforms, he gradually verified that this was correct. Mindfulness also indirectly led to the birth of Curious Table. Talking about the source of daily inspiration, Tim laughed and said that he has a death note, and there was an interesting stealing incident before, the shorthand also made the thief confused, “Because it was written randomly, not on a recipe, it is my idea, which is an extension of inspiration.!( He also said that the biggest inspiration comes from !’eating!(, and the most important thing in cooking is to like to eat, and to accumulate changes in taste buds from the little things in life, in order to accumulate creativity. In a blink of an eye, more than a decade of culinary career have passed in a hurry, and in the middle of night, there is always a moment of feeling tired, and Tim gave the answer, “To be honest, the sense of achievement in developing new dishes has always supported me. This is the motivation for me to go on.!( Seeing the guests taking pictures and hearing the guests praising the delicious food, the seemingly simple feedback gave him the extraordinary meaning of being a chef. He couldn’t hide the truth, and he said that he had no hesitation in the word “cooking”.