August 28, 2015

A Letter to the Chef.

chef food

To the chef,

I’ve always admired the particular talent of the chef. The artist that can take a bunch of arbitrary elements and create something cohesive, unified, harmonious.

I wonder if your affinity for this art was born from a desire, or perhaps a need, to connect something otherwise disconnected. Something out in the world maybe, something inside yourself.

Or maybe you were just hungry…

Any way you slice it, somewhere along the way you made the decision to take the raw ingredients you were handed and create some new, unique, brave. To have the ultimate say in what these ingredients become, what you become.

This is the recipe. First, there are the pieces. What you were given. You must see them, taste them, feel them. Know them. Accept them. Appreciate them for whatever they are, whatever they bring to the table. Only then can you discover their potential, and begin to delineate the path to lead them there.

Then, comes the action, the creating—the molding, rolling, stretching, cooling, warming. Here is where you become an alchemist. You transform a few dusty vegetables into a bold hearty stew. Apples become apple pie.

A break becomes an opening, a doorway, a new beginning.

You turn something given into something chosen.

And to this end, you, the chef must constantly balance your hand. Too passive, and the dish will be weak. Too aggressive, it will rebel. Nothing harmonious can come from being pushed, forced. Rather, it must be convinced. It must yield willingly. You must be gentle and assertive. Soft and strong. Calm and passionate. Receptive and persuasive.

You don’t always get it right, this tight rope balancing act. But you always hold the secret. It’s all trial and error. A lighter or stronger touch. Some new ingredients. A little more or a little less of the same. You are forever inventing and reinventing. Revising, adapting, creating and recreating. Falling and getting up again.

And those times when you get it just right? It is nothing short of magic. A bunch of solitary particles, floating in space, disconnected, now finally merging, finding their fit, the connection. Exploding into place. They become something old and new, a perfect measured blend of past and future, a stronger, bolder, complex version of themselves.

And then if that is not enough, there is the offering. For this is an art that requires action, participation. It must be experienced, touched, inhaled, tasted. And it is in these elements that life is reflected, connected, sustained. Those lucky enough to dine at your table will marvel in this labor of love, in the magic that is born, created, offered, and received.

~ Your hungry, grateful guest—who is totally willing to do the dishes.




Cooking: A Dying Art?



Author: Jenny Spitzer

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Salil Wadhavkar at Flickr 

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