I’ve been giving my tagline a lot of thought recently as I decided to overhaul the blog and begin again. Three years ago I was a research assistant in a biochemistry lab, and today I manage the kitchen at a catering company. The original intent of this blog was to share recipes and document my progress as I became a chef. On paper, at least, I’ve achieved what I set out to do. My journey however, is far from over.
“Becoming a Chef” is more of an ongoing process than a destination. Even now that I have the word “chef” in my official work title, there is still so much more to learn and explore. As I considered the direction for Beth’s Bites, I realized how much has changed since my journey began. I relish every opportunity to share and teach, as well as every opportunity to learn. I’ve grown from reluctant home cook to observant and adaptive sous chef. In an earlier post, I mentioned my internship at Hen of the Wood in Burlington and Waterbury, VT. In my early months working there, I was riddled with anxiety and a sense of inadequacy. I wasn’t fast enough, my knife-skills weren’t there, I didn’t have any experience. My chef observed my obsession for things to be “just so” and gave me the most important advice I’ve ever received “Dude, it’s just food.”
And it was just food.
In the following months I worked on my knife-skills and continued to struggle with pacing my prep, but I let the perfectionist go. If I messed something up, I didn’t beat myself up about it (ok, maybe a little), I observed why something went wrong and made a mental note to change it next time. I once lost eight russet potatoes at the bottom of a deep fryer trying to make chips. I had dumped them in too quickly and they clung together as they sunk to the bottom. Rather than running to my chef and frantically asking him to fix it, I retrieved more potatoes from dry storage, sliced them, and tried again. I told the chef what happened, he told me to have fun cleaning out the fryer later. Life went on and I went on to make many, many more batches of chips in my restaurant career.
All of this is a long way to say that I needed to let go of my fear of failure in the kitchen. Once I did, not only did I grow more confident in my own skills as a cook, but I found that I was picking up on new skills more quickly. This fearlessness, combined with my drive to learn and understand food and cooking, has pushed me to create in ways I could never have predicted three years ago.
This is my hope for you, dear reader.
The most common question I get as a chef is “what do you do with…?” Maybe you already feel pretty comfortable following a recipe, but you’re not so sure how to improvise. Maybe you just want to impress your date or family with a signature recipe. Maybe these are the reasons you came to my site, but it’s my hope that you leave here with more than just a recipe. I hope you’ll come to understand food and appreciate it new ways. I hope you are inspired by the ideas you find here and use them fearlessly to create something of your own. I hope you’ll join me on this adventure of becoming a chef.