Recently, during a family gathering, my brother-in-law and I were catching up and he was asking how business was going. He wanted to know how it was juggling a 2-year-old, working with clients and writing menus. I simply explained that juggling the boy and work were really the easy part because it's physical. Coming up with the menus was the part of the equation that sometimes caused me problems.
He continued with the line of questions. He's a police officer so it's kind of par for the course. How do I come up with new and exciting menus all the time? I literally got three phone calls and four emails about work during the few hours we were together.
For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. A beautiful fresh fish, some pristine mushrooms, an unusual plate or bowl. When I cook for dinner parties the client sets me on the path, either with cuisine style or dietary restrictions. That is almost always enough to get a great menu started.
I love to be able to play off client requests or ideas that other cooks may have. Those little nuggets of an idea can spiral into a beautiful dish or meal.
Creativity and inspiration can and should come from any and all objects, ingredients or directions!