Friday, July 2, 2010

The Essential Ingredient used by all Great Chefs

Tarragon, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Thyme.
Vanilla Bean, Star of Anise, Basil, Cloves.

There are SO many wonderful spices that can be used to enliven a dish - bringing out the subtleties of different elements or adding color and aroma to the final presentation.

The possibilities really are endless when you know how to employ the contents of your spice rack but, there is one essential ingredient that every Top Chef and every beginner needs in order to make a great tasting dish.

That Ingredient?  A dash of Daring.

I know... I know... this sounds super corny but, it really is true!

How do I know this?  Personal Experience of course.  Honestly, I never used to cook.  I did not grow up in a home where cooking or gathering for family meals was a part of our daily or weekly routine.  Cooking was just not something I did or thought about... aside from the occasional toasted breakfast bagel.  The truth of the matter is, for the majority of my life, just the idea of cooking was intimidating to me, let alone actually carrying out the act.  Put me in a room with pots and pans, spices, and tools to slice and dice and I would feel just about as comfortable as if I were asked to floss the teeth of a hungry hippo.  Really.  I was not comfortable with the whole cooking thing.  Even grocery shopping made me  anxious.  There were just so many isles with so many products, with so many ingredients...

All this is just to say that, I understand that cooking can be intimidating.  My encouragement is simple though, and the principle can be applied in many areas of your life with equally delicious results - don't be afraid to fail.  You have to be willing to try new things, experiment with flavors, quantities, temperatures, and textures.  Figure out a way to enjoy the process.  Maybe you have your favorite show playing in the background.  Maybe you play your favorite music while you mix up a little somin' somin'.  Maybe you pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the complexities of the variance in flavors as you sip your glass while testing your dish as you cook.  Adding a dash of daring may be in the form of spices you use.  It may be in the way you prep your meal or it may be in the way you present your final dish to an awe struck crowd of friends and family.  Whatever mode you choose to employ, I gaurantee you that adding a dash of daring and a pinch of fearless will go a long way towards you becoming a confident chef whose meals are beloved by all who dare to indulge.

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