Alex Atala on creativity and innovation in cuisine

At the 2013 Design Indaba Conference Alex Atala spoke about creating dishes that sum up an entire culture.

"The best way to be global is to be local," renowned Brazilian chef Alex Atala declared at Design Indaba Conference 2013

For Atala a chef's creativity does not lie in creating something new, but rather creating something that surprises people. He also spoke about primitive, versus modern, interpretations of food and flavours. It's about integrating what is already known into something totally new. "Old ideas can be much more clever, intelligent and modern than new ideas," he believes.

Our preconceptions are what prohibits us from experiencing new things in a unique manner, Atala proposes. Looking to creativity and innovation, and what it means to chefs, Atala believes that the two are indistinguishable: “Innovation is creativity and utility!"

Challenging the cultural interpretations of food is one of Atala's key interests. He believes that an entire culture can be summed up in three flavours: “If I said soya sauce, ginger and seaweed your mind goes to Japan. If I said tomato, basil and mozzarella, your mind goes to Italy,” says Atala. In a similar way Atala wants to sum up the taste of the Amazon for both locals and visitors in his native Brazil. 

Atala also spoke about recycling flavour and the taste of insects, and how the cultural stigma attached to them prevents us from eating then. 

Considering the scarcity of food Atala believes that people need to start eating entire ingredients: "We need to learn how to eat an entire ingredient, it is more than just reducing waste, it’s about being respectful to the environment.”

Atala also showed a video that revealed how he creates his tasting menu at his famous restaurant D.O.M in Sao Paulo.  

Watch the Interview with Alex Atala