Monday, March 1, 2010

Is it a gift or a skill?

I was first introduced to the world of cooking as being something fun when I sat in my friend Sean's living room, with a bunch of friends, to watch Iron Chef that evening. It was the first time I had ever seen the show and this was also one of Sean's great co-ed sleepover parties so there was both men and women lounging all over the room to watch. This battle was over some sort of fish and like always, the greatest of Iron Chefs was to battle: Chen Kenichi. As I sat there watching, I became enthralled at the amount of knowledge this chef had for cooking strange and unusual ingredients. Even after the episode was over and everyone was moving downstairs for more activities, I turned back to the TV, almost hearing it call out to me, like a siren's call. It called to me, wanting to seduce me and take me down, to kitchen stadium, down leagues and leagues where I drown a happy tasty death.

From that show's first burned image in my mind, I have always loved how trained chefs can take any ingredient and do something with it. I shall not comment on the fake and staged show that is Iron Chef America as they know ahead of time what the ingredient is, they make dishes that they have already made before and they only have to make one of each, unlike the old school version where they had to make everything there on the fly. I wanted to so badly become a chef, like the Iron Chefs, as one who would be given a chicken breast and come up with multiple things to do with it.

Unfortunately, I am not an Iron Chef nor can I come up and cook everything well. I am slowly learning a new appreciation for seafood and some of it, I just don't like so I don't cook it because I don't know how it will turn out or is supposed to taste. I also don't like cheeses that much as my tastes changed as I grew up and I grew out of it. I remember eating cheese, lots of cheese when I was young but then growing up, I learned a dislike for most of them.

What does make me proud is that when I hear some of the biggest chefs in the world, talk about what they do, they complain. I remember Bourdain complaining about how he can't do pastry or baking at all. I have heard other chefs, even Iron chefs say that they can't do cookies or even a simple jam. Well, one man's poison.....

I can do baking and can accomplish it quite easily. I can make batches and batches of cookies even without a recipe work fine. I am about 90% good in that if I find a random recipe, 90% of the time I can make something delicious out of it. Making jams is just as easy if not easier and to hear a large number of people and chefs exclaim at how difficult it is. That makes me feel good knowing that I can do something they cannot. It still makes me humble though because in the same way, I can't cook the foods that they can. So, while I may be able to make a jam or dessert that would best compliment a meal at Mesa Grill, I wouldn't be able to come up with any of the dishes.

So, like me, go out there and try to cook something. If you can't cook a steak properly, then move on to something else. I think everyone has some cooking skills, you just have to figure out what facet it covers.

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