I know so little about this thing we call cooking (even though it’s my 15th year of doing it) and I always want to learn more to try and figure out the best way to go about doing just that. The struggle is how do I do that without absolutely consuming myself? The greatest thing about cooking is how infinite it seems to be. Sure, so much of it has been done and explored already. Even if I think about a recipe on my own, buy a new cookbook or explore the rabbit hole that is Google, it’s always going to be a variation of something that’s been done.
We have finally started to shed more light on mental health in the culinary industry and people are becoming more aware of it and taking the steps to take care of themselves. I think sometimes that as great as it is to have a passion for this trade it’s also not beneficial to be completely consumed by it. So, how do I create balance to find time to relax, do things for myself and let my mind take a break from what I do for 60 hours a week.
There are so many styles of cuisine to focus on in one's career that it’s a little daunting to imagine being so amazing at a large number of them. For the last 6 years, I’ve focused my learning and execution on Asian inspired food. Dishes from Vietnam, Thailand and Japan with a little bit of Indian influence thrown in there. Yet do I know how to make more than 3 types of pasta? Nope. Am I skilled in the trade of making an omelette (which-God forbid-if you’ve heard certain people talk about how if you DON’T know how to make a proper one then you shouldn’t be cooking), hell nah I don’t! And I pray that no one in the near future asks me to decorate a watermelon into a portrait of the Queen as if I’ve done any food carving in my life cause I skipped that class in culinary school. That shit ain’t happening.
But ask me how to properly form a tight spring roll, grill a steak to anyone’s desired temperature and to break down whole fish then I’m your guy. The passion to continue to learn doesn’t stop me, it’s where do I find the time!? Because even when you’re cooking every day you're still in this bubble of cooking what’s on the current menu and each service is aimed at perfecting each dish that you’re putting out for the guest. There’s time to make specials when the time/product is available but if there are new specials all the time, then it’s really taking away from the story the menu is trying to tell.
So my food knowledge is at a humble place for where I’m at right now in my career. I feel like I have answers most of the time for when my crew has a question, my palate is in good shape and my prep skills make me a mise en place GOD! *Jokes*…..but seriously, I’m incredible :)
Most often when an idea sparks in my head I either write down a note/reminder about it or I’m pulling out my phone (this time not to check Instagram) to get on google and save a search result. This is a good tool for me to use so that I don’t lose an idea, and that I can get back to later when I have the proper time to dedicate to it. Or if I really have the juices going, I’ll allow the idea to consume me as I know it’s only going to help me get better and gain more knowledge about the food I’m either cooking at the time or a skill/technique/dish that I want to come back to in the future.
What’s got me thinking is how to balance that time and effort so I can go out there and live my life with the limited time I have without having small fits of guilt I could be doing more. Gaining knowledge is only going to help me in the long run, but there’s got to be the appropriate times for it so I can keep my sanity.
It’s baffling to think that even when I’ve done this till I’m old, grumpy and grey that there’s so much I’ve potentially missed out on. So it’s about balancing time and energy into learning a little bit more each day and finding good sources of inspiration to help me along.
Until next time, Have a Good service.