Chefs and mixologists are always challenged to innovate—to bring new flavors, ingredients, and experiences to their work. We spoke with mixologist Andy Seymour and Chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson about where they find inspiration and how they keep a fresh perspective while remaining approachable in their food and drinks.
Andy Seymour is an internationally-recognized mixologist and a leading educator and consultant on alcoholic beverages. He finds inspiration in creating new taste experiences and a comfortable environment for people to approach cocktails. He thinks a lot about hospitality and what it means. “We have to think about everybody who walks into our bars and our parties,” he says. “You can’t cut anyone out; we need to make everyone welcome.”
At a recent private dinner in Manhattan hosted by Belvedere Vodka and onefinestay, Andy crafted cocktails for the twenty invited guests. His aim was to highlight the depth and texture of Belvedere rye vodka. He wanted to allow the full weight of the impeccably distilled spirit to shine, and yet remain approachable to everyone. “Integrity is coming back to the vodka category thanks to vodkas like Belvedere,” Andy says.
For Chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson - who worked together at Glasserie in Brooklyn and are opening a falafel shop in early 2015 in Los Angeles called MADCAPRA - inspiration often comes from tradition.
“We’re not traditional in our cooking, but we really like to be inspired by it and have our food make sense in a traditional context, yet updated for an interested audience who want to have a more dynamic eating experience,” says Kramer.
Hymanson adds, “We try to keep our food approachable while still being interesting. It maybe looks really familiar, mushrooms or a green salad, but there’s an element you wouldn’t expect from something that appears to be so simple.”;
They are also often inspired by what not to do. “We push ourselves to come up with more interesting dishes or more interesting combinations because we’ve seen a lot of one thing recently; and because we want to continue to feel challenged and excited about what we do,” Kramer says.
“We go back and forth a lot: That’s too boring, That’s too boring, That’s too boring… . We want to feel like we can still surprise people.”
In the world of drinking and dining, premier chefs and mixologists are always seeking the highest quality ingredients, and applying a diligence of craft in order to keep their creations both interesting and approachable. It can be a tough balance to strike, but such attention to detail makes all the difference in the finished work.