When people ask about “inspiration” behind menu items, it’s sometimes tough to answer. Ideas come from everywhere and everything! I like to start with a vegetable, and work my way out. I also like to start with a garnish and work my way in. I like bold flavors, and I like combining ingredients that surprise people.
That’s a whole special brain category to pull from.
Sometimes it’s the weather, or I’m missing my family or friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Menu items come from places around the world I really want to travel to, places that may be out of reach for now.
Inspiration can also come from nothing, a lightning bolt moment that just pops in there and impatiently sits until I try it out. If I’m stuck, or I’m trying to find a place to start, I love to read cookbooks and read old menus. I have watched hours and hours of videos over the years, including a video showing 60 or so ways to cook a potato. (That was during the height of the pandemic I think, so that checks out.)
Food itself inspires togetherness and celebrations and self care. That is probably my main drive. I want people to come to Jack of Cups, or my house or even on a damn picnic with me and feel something about the food that I’ve made. I want it to remind them of something — something that makes them happy or feel cared for.
As Jack of Cups grows I’m trying to learn about the chef that I want to be, and where we go from here. Each day brings new information, new experiences and interactions which inevitably keeps the idea machine turning and evolving. I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing with the people I’m doing it with.
Lesley Carroll is the co-owner and executive chef of Jack of Cups Saloon located at 34 Center St. on Folly Beach.
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