Thursday, March 4, 2010

If the Personality Fits- Wear it Proudly

I am going to describe something I have noticed lately about myself in my development towards being officially recognized as a chef.  As I gaze into the mirror I can easily see past one thing I am already familiar with and that I have accepted about who I am:  "I am a people pleaser."  I came to terms with that trait a few years ago and happily found a nice balance between being agreeable and just saying no when appropriate.  OK, I do still load it up, but trust me when I say I am doing everything I want and love to do.

A large part of being a Chef in my opinion is being a people pleaser in the sense that your creation is served with an expectation that the consumer will actually enjoy it, discover intense pleasure, and possibly have their socks knocked off.  This can be whether you are the executive chef of a large restaurant, a school lunch provider, or a homemaker preparing a meal for the whole family.  A chef wants each meal to invoke something extraordinary in the sensation of the taster.  We want to hear what you think.  We want to see you close your eyes and say "Mmmmm."  We simply want you to be pleased by what we have prepared for you.

My friend Ray- Look at that focus!

It is when I  look beyond the "people pleaser" I am suddenly aware this new transformation of my focus and drive.  My commitment level is brimming and I am standing on my very tip toes, fully immersed in an flood of opportunities that are the result of this manifestation of my passion.  My vigor comes from the feedback I am receiving and the encouragements from the people who matter most in my life.  I find myself wanting to push outside the boundaries I have safely resided in.  I feel like the stakes have been raised now and the challenges are no longer just obstacles, but strengthening exercises.  All of this is to prepare me for the even larger rewards that are just ahead.

Staying focused while working with Chef Steve 

I have also felt my competitive tendencies rise up again too.  This is nothing new either since I have always tackled anything goal-oriented with a winning mentality.  So far in my lifetime it has served me well as long as I am careful and respectful in my approach.  In culinary school I can see where it is important to have some of this attitude with a certain healthy limitation.  What I mean to say is that we should never let a competitive edge cut into the more important teamwork factor that we all need in order to successfully complete this program.  As students, we need each other, plain and simple.

Last semester- Pro Cook Team

What is the proverbial gold medal for the students working in the kitchen lab?  I promise that it does exist, whether we work together for it or not.

Everyone wants to put out "The Best" dish at show time.  (**Showtime is what happens after all of the dishes we have been working hard on all through class are ready to be critiqued and tasted)  There is no better feeling than when the Chef Instructor points out a particular dish in the landscape of plated foods and it just happens to be your own.  It gets even better when your classmates try it out too and say things like "Oh that is so good" or "Wow, that is great!"  A triple bonus would be when other chef instructors show up and are instructed to "Try that one right there, its amazing!"  All of these positive remarks can really gratify a students need for a response to their own individualized technique.  It really is special to hear that what you created is "Good!"

Taking some pride in our bread creations in Baking Class

I am really embracing this culinary school experience and in return it is giving me the opportunities to become the person I have been practicing to become for my whole life.  It is such an amazing feeling to be training with so many other people who feel the same way I do about food.  I can talk about recipes all day long with my culinary buddies and we just understand one another.  The culinary world gives me the environment to be myself- a people pleasing, driven, people-loving, happy-go-lucky, passionate, competitive when appropriate, girlie who just wants to cook and create good food that other people want to eat. Oh and have fun while I am doing it too.

Having fun at my Sushi Rolling Class I taught with the girls- This is the fun I am talking about!