Polenta puppies have a complex story with me. I mean you look at it, it looks like a ball of.. well polenta. There’s a bunch of different ingredients but when it comes to the plate, the final dish, it’s just one thing. It doesn’t look like that much. It’s very simple on the outside, but when you get on the inside you can taste the complexity of it. At least how I like to make them.
That dish stemmed from one of my first cooking jobs. I think it was 2004. We had staff meals everyday, we cooked whatever we felt like, and one day I made a polenta dish. I thought it was the best thing ever, and the staff loved it. And you know, that was that. It was kind of forgotten.
I moved here (the Wren) in 2013. Almost 10 years later, and that dish is now on the menu. It’s about that triumph. From going to a young cook. still not hitting the mark. and being someone’s right hand man. To that dish from 10 years ago, that never made it on the menu anywhere, to it being here now. And people love it! I mean it’s transformed today. It’s a reincarnation from what I made 10 years ago. And I see that transformation in myself as well. Through the years up until 5 years ago I was heavily into drug and alcohol abuse. And that really stunted my growth in this industry. It caused a lot of depression.
One day I went home, lit up a joint, and I asked myself why I did this. I didn’t want to be like that anymore. And there and then, I just cut it all out. It’s so fucking scary to think of what I could’ve become or where I could have ended up. Jail?…Dead!? As soon as I did that, everything got better, and I started loving food again. It’s that transformation and evolution of me and where I am today, that I also find in this dish. It was just a thought, just a thing. and now it’s on the menu, and I’m the chef. It’s still the same dish, but it’s changed a bit. Just like me.
Just like the food we consume, Once you stop transforming yourself, you don’t grow. And this dish represents that growth for me. It’s a bite size app, but it’s much bigger than that for me.
Jacob Taylor - Head Chef at The Wren