Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Secret Ingredient- and Other Sandbox Theories

The knife duel I wrote about a few days ago is actually about a job screening. I think the difference between corporate people and chefs is that the former can blabber their way to the job interview, while the latter has to undergo firing squad. Written tests, oral tests, cooking tests. Besides, the ’gods’ have to prove that your cooking won’t lie. The screening was pretty bloody – not only because I knew that the gods thought I was a little too young for the post, but because I was a woman wrestling with the gladiators. Besides, the position requires, in addition to an impressive resume, an aura of power- because it would be leading a whole battalion of men with knives. Like, who the hell did I think I was? I thought I was going in that war in blindfolds and while the other gladiators had scythes, swords, ax, etc., I was armed with a… toothpick. Perhaps I am still too ignorant on many things of the culinary trade, but I confess that I didn’t have any secret ingredients that made the gods levitate after eating the food. No Santeria. Just go.

Now, strongly I believe that there are certain unexpected things that turn out in your favor. Whether it is Gandalf riding an eagle and swoops you down from the arena or a cloak falling from the sky and makes you invisible- you just don’t even know where these forces come from that save you from getting beaten into a pulp. Things that make possible anything beyond your expectations. On the other hand, if a job is for you, then it is for you. It is only that simple.

Then to get what you want, according to... who said it?(I forgot) - you visualize that it’s already yours- no matter what the odds are. All the other factors to invite the inspiration is entirely up to you. A little childish and awkward, but I do have a private place in my backdoor where I sip coffee while quietly watching the sunrise. And in that place, north of my kitchen, I have a mural drawing of a turtle with bangs wearing a chef’s hat- a happy chef turtle to be exact- in a happy existence with water plants and sea shells, swimming in an imaginary sea. I wake up everyday going to the bathroom greeted by this fat chef turtle.

Since the day I painted that, I felt like a kindergarten kid again playing in the sandbox. And like a mixed bag of muesli, came up with my own assorted theories conjured from that drawing: believe that fate is smiling at you. Believe that you’d wear a toque with a happy smile on your face. Believe that you’d walk through hot kitchens with the same coolness of head as though you just bathed in the sea. Believe that no matter how chaotic the kitchen becomes, you will be steadfast with your direction. Believe that you are never homeless, never naked, and that you are destined to live a great long life. Believe that there’s plenty of undiscovered things out there in the sea… and all you have to do is swim towards them with grace and an open mind. Believe that there are many wine bottles that will be opened for you; popping corks and someday when it’s your time, the universe will eventually disclose its champagne supernovas.

Believe. Believe anything! Hope on anything- for hope always triumphs over experience.

In cooking as in life, I don’t think there are any secret ingredients to success or to happiness– but that which is already yours. And whether you are armed with a few things and little experience, your faith on things unseen and your love for almost anything that comes your way wins over any impassable barrier imaginable.

So, how did the screening go? Did the Foodhuntress make it? Perhaps this photo will speak a little.

Smoke a hand- rolled cigar at the backdoor among the wine bottles, and surprisingly, no one in your family will protest, but instead take a photo of you because they know that you only smoke once in your twenty nine years.

And by the way, as a rule, you can only enjoy this cigar privilege if you got the job.


Anonymous said...

Did i just see that? Did i just see a picture of you smoking a cigar?? hahaha... This is great!

Congratulation to you my dear. Great great post and cute turtle too. I have no doubt many Champagne bottles will be uncorked in your honor one day. Like Champagne supernovas in the sky.

Cheers to you :-)

foodhuntress79 said...

Someday you will find me caught beneath the landslide... of pots and pans and sharp knives. Hahaha. Thank you Zen Chef for taking time to read my crazy blog :)

Anonymous said...

Zee pleasure is all mine.. :-)