Food by the Book: Writer shares key principles of creativity

As Allen Gannett says, creativity comes from the combination of something familiar with something novel. Turkish lamb burgers combine the familiar hamburger with the traditional Turkish Kofte meatball. The result is a delicious and unique twist on the American favorite.

While waiting for a flight, I picked up a copy of Allen Gannett’s new release, “The Creative Curve, How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time,” one of those proverbial business books stacked up in airport shops. There have been a myriad of books written about creativity by well-known professors, psychologists, and self-help gurus. I was interested to know what someone under 30 who was none of those things could teach us about creativity.

What Gannett brings to the conversation is strong data substantiating the idea that there are several things we can do to not only produce more creative ideas but to develop them at a time when they will hit on the market successfully. Since the generally accepted definition of creativity is an original or novel idea that changes the way people think, for a starving artist, aspiring hip hop sensation, or even an engineering genius, this is huge. As founder of a data analytics firm whose clients reach to the likes of Microsoft, Saks, and Home Depot, Gannett has interviewed hundreds of successful creative people to arrive at his key principles of creativity.

From his study, he found that creative people read and study everything they can get their hands on about their area of interest, and realize that recognizable patterns exist in all things. They seek out or have been exposed to a great teacher, master, or mentor. At first, they often emulate leaders in their field while developing their own creativity. Creatives dedicate three or four hours a day to practicing and studying their passion, what Gannett calls the 20 percent principle. Instead of being a lone artist or inventor working in solitude, successful creatives build a community of influential, like-minded people who in turn generate more ideas and opportunity. They also have a cultural awareness that allows them to capture the heart and soul of their audience. In short, being a creative genius is out there for all of us if we are willing to put in the hard work and surround ourselves with the right network of people. This often means leaving the comfort of our small town and moving to the nexus of our passion, a risk many people dare not take.

Gannett sent us this recipe to enlarge our epicurean experience and spur our culinary creativity.

“Creativity comes from the combination of something familiar with something novel,” Gannett said. “Star Wars was a western in space. Harry Potter is a traditional orphan story, but...they’re wizards! In that spirit, I wanted to add a twist to a classic: The Hamburger.”

Gannett’s mother is from Turkey, and he grew up with the constant hope that she would make her delicious Köfte, a sort of spiced lamb meatball. As a creative combination, Gannett fused the hamburger and Köfte in a unique way. The result is the recipe below for Turkish lamb burgers. Enjoy!

Turkish Lamb Burgers

Sauce ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Burger ingredients:

12 plain crackers

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup yellow onion, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 pound ground lamb (or ground chuck)

1 large egg

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Romaine or butter lettuce

Tomatoes

6 Brioche Buns

Feta cheese

Stir all ingredients for the yogurt sauce in medium bowl to blend. Cover and chill while making burgers.

Crush crackers in a dish towel until fine. Mix cracker crumbs with mint, onion, garlic, seasonings, and ground lamb in a large bowl. Crack in the egg. With clean hands, mix ingredients well. Divide into 6 burgers, about 3/4 inch thick. Drizzle them with oil, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Cook burgers using medium-to-high heat on a large griddle or frying pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until desired level of doneness. Serve with lettuce, tomato, feta and yogurt sauce on a warmed brioche bun. Creative adaptation sourced from Jamie Oliver’s Cracking Burger and Bon Appetit’s Jean Thiel Kelley’s Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara.