Just as an artist sketches a study of a person or object before painting it on canvas, so will some chefs sketch a blueprint of what the next new dish coming out of the kitchen will look like on a plate. We asked a few local chefs to share some of the drawings and scribblings that normally only their staff gets to see.

Damian Sansonetti, chef and co-owner of Piccolo and Chaval restaurants in Portland, said when designing a new dish he considers flavor first, then figures out the presentation — with the help of a sketch pad “to see if it looks like how it looks in your head. Sometimes it is literally doodles on a piece of paper.” Other times, he wraps a plate in plastic wrap and draws the food right on the plate. Then he shows the drawing to his staff. He’s known for livening up his sketches with oddities such as a cartoonish “chile pepper guy” or a disembodied hand seasoning seasoning the food.

Like Sansonetti, Christian Hayes, chef/owner of The Garrison in Yarmouth, regularly illustrates his new dishes on paper. He also used a sketch book to draw the layout of his new restaurant, which opened in late July. And he regularly writes and draws in a book he calls the “Garrison bible.” In that book, which anyone on his staff may read, he lays out his personal philosophies as a restaurateur, muses about restaurant decor and design (down to the type of music that should be played in the bathrooms) and offers instructions for how he wants things done. He writes on one page, for example, that instead of saying “no problem” to a diner, the staff should say “my pleasure.”

“If there are delays — always offer a bite on the house while we pull the order together. THEY ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!”

Here are a few examples of chefs’ artwork, from Sansonetti and Hayes, as well as Josh Berry of Union Restaurant in Portland and Ali Waks Adams, chef at Coast Bar + Bistro in The Daniel Hotel in Brunswick.

Food editor Peggy Grodinsky contributed the photo captions for this story.

 

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