Slide consommé

Doug Neff

Written by

Doug Neff

I recently read listened to The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, a fascinating and, ummmm… delicious journey into the world of the Culinary Institute of America. Ruhlman documented his experiences as a student at the Institute, and he brought those experiences to life with a richness I’ve rarely found in non-fiction.

I loved the book, and I’ve been looking for a reason to blog about it ever since (other than the food-as-presentation connection, which Michael Moon already captured well).

And I think I finally found my inspiration.

Ruhlman writes about cooking as the pursuit of perfection. Indeed, many of his own lessons at the Institute boiled down (sorry!) to the idea that not only is perfection possible, but is quite simply expected of you. Chefs don’t settle. Chefs get it done right.

And one of the highest expressions of perfection in the student chef’s arsenal is a clear consommé. (For the un-cheffed among us, that’s a sort of soup or broth that is so clear you can “read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon”. And when you see all the stuff that goes into making it, you can really appreciate the clarity in the final product.)

So I happened to catch an interesting post about this in Michael Ruhlman’s blog: basic recipe and instructions for making a consommé. Reactions to his post prompted his old CIA instructor, Chef Michael Pardus, to go one step further and make a video about making consommé.

And THAT is where I found something worthy of the slide:ology audience.

Because not only did he make a video, but he also made a nice photo essay, beginning with this slide:

Ingredients on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Ingredients to make consomme are written on it

I LOVE this slide! And it’s not even really a slide. He didn’t use PowerPoint at all. He just wrote out his recipe in black magic marker on some cardboard or parchment, surrounded it with the ingredients themselves, then framed it nicely with a camera. Beautiful!

And you can tell an entire presentation this way, without ever opening your presentation software. In fact, to beat our metaphor to death, doing your presentation this way will help you cut out the fat and get to the meat of your story, resulting in a more satisfying, delicious experience for your diners (audience).

It’s simple:

  1. Create your slides in reality (using objects, food, crayons, markers, etc.)
  2. Photograph them

I’ve noticed that our blog commenters are some of the smartest presentation people in the business, so let’s all share our favorite examples of this below…