Monday, January 24, 2011

Present-Tense Thinking.

The sunrise through a busy morning intersection.  

Put your right hand directly over your heart.  With focused intention feel the sensations of your one and only heart's automatic and rythymic pulse as it gently imposes its force through layers of internal and external protections.   

Take a deep breathe in.  Now with a measure of control release the consumption of your lungs.  As you do this be totally aware of every part of you that has to perform in perfect unison to activate this normally involuntary reflex.

 This is the natural synchronicity that is meant to support your days and years of accumulated life.  Generally these utility systems of energy exchange within us, continuing in their functions with little or any purposeful prompting by any of our own original thought.  Circulatory beauty, our body is designed to take care of itself.  Our bodies also have abilities to give us subtle, and even acute messages in times of certain needs.  Be it hunger, thirst, a particular nutrient, or sleep, if we are healthy and in tune to these messages we can meet our own needs and progress.  Once we have met these basic needs we have the freedom to devote more energy to the moments of passionate experience that we crave.

I believe it is important to slow down and connect with the heartbeat and breathe often.  Its the most immediate and easiest way to be present.  Being present is important to be able to understand the truth of what is going on around you.  To become a better listener and create a stronger awareness of the atmosphere you are being surrounded with.  Breathe in...

Is this where you want to be right now?  Its up to you to tell your feet where to travel.

Is this what you wanted to do?  It takes honest decision-making to match up your current attendance to where you truly hoped to be today.          

Are you happy today?  That is a choice.

Are you thankful for anything?  Gratitude, appreciation, comprehension of what is good about your life and taking nothing for granted is essential to recognizing your happiness potential. 

 Breathe out...

Practice being present for your life.

Today is always an opportunity.  Today I spent most of my time at school...

For me I wanted to be enrolled in and graduate from culinary school.  I made a choice to be here.  I want to make the most of this educational journey.  I am happy to be apart of a team with established goals.  I am thankful for the ability to practice and hone my culinary and professional skills, and also for the guidance of my instructors.  I will be successful here because I am intentional about achieving my purpose.  I want to share my passion and excitement for food to help people feel healthy and happy and thankful.

I can apply this kind of presence to every part of my life...


 adj \ˈpre-zənt\

Definition of PRESENT

: now existing or in progress
a : being in view or at handb : existing in something mentioned or under consideration
3: constituting the one actually involved, at hand, or being considered 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Importance of Precision


 noun \pri-ˈsi-zhən\

Definition of PRECISION

: the quality or state of being precise : Exactness
a : the degree of refinement with which an operation is performed or a measurement stated — 

I have learned practice is the only thing that will yield precision. 

Every single teacher I have had has made the point that a very telling characteristic of a chef's abilities starts with his/her knife skills.  It shows attention to detail and experience or practice with the craft.  As the knife becomes an extension of our hands it is important to know how to use it 
safely and with accuracy. Once this is mastered, the kitchen cutting board becomes a stage for the ingredients of every type of cuisine to be manipulated, modified and transformed into something special.  

You have to know how to take care of your knife too.  This applies to keeping the blade SHARP.  A dull knife is even more dangerous than the blade that can shave hairs from your wrist.  A dull knife will require you to use a much more force to push a blade through the items you are slicing and dicing.  If your knife is sharp, then the knife does almost all the work, allowing you to be its guide.

Its what allows us to be at the cutting edge of whatever we are doing.
Proves an attention to detail and that it mattered.
Smoothing out the rookie approach to your tasks by applying practice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Methods of Measure


 noun \ˈme-zhər, ˈmā-\

Definition of MEASURE

 : the dimensions, capacity, or amount of something ascertained by measuring : an estimate of what is to be expected (as of a person or situation) : a measured quantity 
  : the act or process of measuring
       : a basis or standard of comparison measure of happiness>
       : a step planned or taken as a means to an end

In whatever you pursue...  constant and careful measurement can become an extremely important component to understanding and recognizing your success.   Today we decided on our mission statement as a class:  

"As passionate students, we are proud to put forth our best efforts while striving for 
simple perfection."

~Spring 2011 Restaurant Class

Everyone seemed to be pretty happy with what we came up with together.  This will be one of our measuring standards to abide by for the entire time we are apart of this learning experience.  A standard that we should carry with us beyond graduation I am sure.  If we are successful in running this teaching restaurant, which I have confident we will be, then we will have met the expectations we estimated with high hopes and strived for.  There is so much more I can say about this.  Measure is a lot bigger word than I realized but for now I am going to conclude with this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

To measure up to all that is demanded of him, a man must overestimate his capacities

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mission: Impossible? I would like to think NOT!

All day I was staying open and aware to what word I might choose to explore.  Today we spent quite a bit of time together as a class discussing ideas and beliefs that would eventually be the backbone to our "Mission Statement."  At first I wasn't sure if I was just making the word choice easy or in fact I had chosen something that would require a much deeper mindfulness this time.  Developing a mission statement is a very important part for all twenty of us students to participate in.  We need to make sure we are in agreement with the statement that will define everything we strive to accomplish this entire semester.  Its possibly the most important thing we can do to bring us together for one common goal.

I kept thinking about my own experience with mission statement formation.  I am fortunate to have been involved in the formulation process of this definitive declaration with a few different groups and businesses.  I have learned how important each word choice is in the overall final proclamation, since Mission Statements will  normally become assessable to the public, who will read it with their own voice and immediately attach an expectation to it.  These expectations stem from the fact that the statement becomes like a promise.  Since it directly comes from the people, group or business that plans to achieve some form of a goal- their measure of successfully fulfilling their promises will come from the people they serve or interact with.

For every session of CUL 295- Contemporary Dining and Cuisine the class is required to decide on a mission statement together, and then agree that it states everything they plan to complete in the final semester before graduation.  This mission statement will become apart of the printed menu so it is visible to all restaurant patrons who dine at our restaurant.  It will be required that we know and understand this assertion in the case of a test question in reference to it intricacies too.  It ultimately should become something like a mantra for all of us, as we practice teamwork at its best and emerge into our roles as future chefs.

**I started to think that this might be a great opportunity to create my own Mission Statement.  Except First... What does the word mission mean and what does it mean to me??


 noun \ˈmi-shən\

Definition of MISSION

: a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity: as : a specific task with which a person or a group is charged
 : a preestablished and often self-imposed objective or purpose mission>

What could I come up with that would fit into not just my goal oriented journey in culinary school but also my everyday life. What are my objectives?? Thankfully this didn't take me too long.  I guess when it is up to only one person to decide the best fit- For me, myself and I, all who have regular conversations very very often, the final decision was simple:

Mission statement- January 18, 2011 for Stephanie:

With a Heart full of Ambition and a constant smile- I will practice Honesty, Humbleness, Happiness, Healthy Choices, be a Willing Helper, Always Hopeful, and stay full of Humility.

direct, and defining... 

Professionalism 101

Final Dessert Fall '10 Advanced Baking

Today marks the first day of the final semester to my culinary training 
at Great Lakes Culinary Institute....

In 108 days 
I will be completing my formal education.
For the time being...  
I could be easy for me to say: 
I am done forever with college-school-homework-tests... 
Except it should be noted- 
 In no way am I saying that I am even close to being done with my education and learning process.
I know in order to be successful not only as a chef but in every aspect of my life
 I need to practice 
I will still seek out opportunities to continue to grow in my knowledge and experience. 

This requires me to stay:

Open to New Ideas and Methods
Accepting of Challenges
Focused and Goal-Oriented
Optimistic and Thankful

And most importantly:

Adhere always to


\prə-ˈfesh-nə-ˌli-zəm, -ˈfe-shə-nə-ˌli-\


: the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person

In our very first class of CUL 295- better known as "The Restaurant Class" by the majority, we focused a large portion of the class on how we define this word not just in school but in all aspects of our lives.  We split up into small groups first and then came to ether as a class to share the answers that we had decided best described what this word meant to us and how it would be applied to our expectations in this class, and our instructors expectations too. We decided in part how we would participate in the course we are currently enrolled in now and beyond graduation in our own "real world scenarios".  

Instantly obvious was the fact that each and every one of us had our own unique interpretation and perception of what professionalism meant to us.  Common opinions were pin pointed too and became the foundation that would hold the framework of accountability and respect for one another and our forthcoming experience.

It made sense to all of us to point out how important it is to be aware at all times that we are being watched and evaluated.  Not just by our instructors but outside the classroom too.  Our community, friends and family, new students, and restaurant professionals who could be our future employers would all hold us to a higher standard based on our status as a culinary student.  Being mindful of all we say and do, our appearance, respectfulness, language, openness to sharing information and everything about our experience, especially upholding the basic knowledge and skill standards that are automatically expected to be known and practiced at the level we had now attained... these are just a few of the ideas we circulated as a class when defining this word, professionalism.  

What does professionalism mean to you? How do you define it not just in your job... but your life and situations?

For me professionalism begins with how I decide to start my day.  My attitude and outlook, and especially my constant striving for optimism in whatever I am faced with.  It involves a commitment to setting the best example possible in front of an Eight and Seven year old.  My sweet kiddos who are relying on me to teach them how to live in this world.  Every single thing I say and do is absorbed by these two, especially right now, and mainly because so  much of the world is still brand new to them.  How I react to everything, especially challenges and conflict is giving them an example of what to do, or not do if they choose, when faced with similar situations in their own experience.
I see that we are now in an age where hardly anything is private anymore. We have the option to be checked in to our specific location so everyone knows where we are.  We can report to a status that says exactly what we are up in case anyone cares.  Pictures get posted, people say whatever they want and people say things like "I'll facebook you later" to specify a newly accepted form of communication that is available worldwide.  These facebook profiles tell a story about who we are whether we like it or not.  Almost anybody can go on and find out whatever they want about us now.  Doesn't that make it even more important if you choose to be on these sites to protect your persona and perceived level of professionalism?  I think it most Absolutely does!!

To me Professionalism isn't just a way to conduct yourself, but maybe its more importantly 
a daily measure 
for how we carefully and thoughtfully choose to interact with our own individual world, people and circumstances.  
Paying attention to this level of communication 
that includes our attitudes, outward appearance, and purposeful contributions to all situations 
for me this is only the beginning of how we can 
define ourselves 
the qualities and characteristics 
I want to be known for.