We had the great privilege of joining Lynda.com founders, Lynda and Bruce, and sponsors of UCSB Arts and Lectures for an Evening with Tom Collichio and it was one of those great evenings that will be remembered by all who attended. I think I saw at least a dozen SB Chefs in attendance. Tom started by saying he had no notes, no outline, no real format other than he would talk about his background, take random questions shouted out from the crowd and of course, talk about Top Chef at length. Tom said that his earliest influences were Jacques Pepin’s two books, Le Technique and Le Methode, both now contained in an updated version since Tom first read them. He says that he doesn’t use recipes. He believes that if you understand technique and method, then they don’t really work… interesting point of view. In fact, I remember hearing from a Chef that I had worked under that Chefs ‘create’ recipes, and Cooks ‘follow’ them. So, I thought it was perfectly in character that he didn’t have a recipe for the evening – he talked casually, as you can see in the photos, and was extremely open, candid and giving in his comments. Without the lights and pressure of the cameras he was more open than he can be on the show. To illustrate his point he did an impromptu improv with the audience. He said, someone call out a protein – someone said Pork Belly, then ‘a vegetable’, someone yelled, Swiss Chard, “My favorite” he exclaimed. Then, “A fruit” – Pineapple and Orange two people shouted. He stopped and then proceeded to walk us through how he would braise the pork belly, create a moustade of the pineapple and orange, turn the chard into a ravioli and make a pickle out of the chard stems… his ability to riff on random ingredients is what most of us strive to do when we are looking at the open fridge deciding what to make for dinner. This was a perfect example of why no recipes are needed. I have a lot more to say about the evening and the meet and greet afterwards and will save them for another post.