Posted 23 September 2003 - 12:54 PM
This interests us a great deal as well -- and is only partly explored in THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF. For more discussion on the topic of menu planning, we recommend our chapter on "Composing a Menu" in CULINARY ARTISTRY, pp. 223-287.
It begins, "'Hitting the right notes' in terms of the flavors within a single dish is one thing; coming up with a harmonious sequence of dishes is quite another. The focus here is on what makes a meal work and how culinary artists are able to compose a menu that flows from one course into the next -- like the sentences of a paragraph of prose, like the movements of a symphony -- making the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts...."
We write about "Menu Planning in World History," and the tendency to move from cold into hot dishes (China), mild into spicy dishes (Japan), etc., as well as the "Grading Principles" which suggest that a menu flows from light to rich, delicate to full-bodied, subtle to strong, and white to dark (in terms of everything from meats to breads to wines)!
You'll also find a great chart on pp. 228-229 that shows how various chefs of history (e.g. Careme, Curnonsky, Escoffier) and modern day (e.g. George Germon & Johanne Killeen, Terrance Brennan) compose their tasting menus.
The chapter also features some of the menus of which various chefs (e.g. Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Joachim Splichal, Alice Waters, etc.) have been most proud in their restaurants' history! It's interesting to note the fascinating ways in which these menus follow, and break, "the rules" of menu composition!
Karen & Andrew