When you work in a restaurant kitchen it is always a mad dash. Hurry up and prep…. work fast to get food to the diners… it’s like a bee hive. Everyone doing what is needed to make it a successful night.
I loved those days, but now, I am glad that I can cook at a slower pace. I can take my time. I can chop and prep with an intent of purpose, not with an intent to beat the clock. I can saute, and fry and bake at my pace, not hurrying unless I want to. I like this new way of cooking.
The other day I was chopping herbs and garlic for a chicken dish I have been working on. I started out chopping so fast, like I had five minutes left before the start of dinner service. I realized what I was doing, my little zen voice telling me that I could slow down, that I could chop and let myself think about the dish I was trying to create. I am working on the being more mindful in my cooking now. Trying be in that place where I can hear my thoughts and feel the love I am trying to put in the food I make. It is something new to an old dog like me who has hurried through too many nights in the belly of the beast known as a restaurant kitchen.
Some may say that good art comes from frenzied moments, and that may be true, but for me, right now, I am looking for that quiet happy place where my culinary creativity can shine. I don’t have to keep a busy restaurant kitchen pace anymore. I don’t have to rush, or stress, or chastise cooks who are going to slow. In the new, zen, incarnation of me I can sip wine and pluck leaves of thyme off the stem. I can chop with quiet contemplation. I can dance to music that is the background to the palate I am trying to create if I like.
Cooking and eating are meant to feed both body and soul. I am of the opinion that the soul can’t get fed if the cooking is frantic. The frantic goes into the food. I am teaching myself to cook now from only the soul… one… mindful… chop or stir… at a time.
Next time you get ready to throw down in the kitchen, take a step back and let the zen take over. Put on some music, pour yourself your favorite libation and let the muse carry you while you create a meal that will feed you and the people who share the food with you in a peaceful, rich, wonderful way.