I’m inspired by a piece I saw on BoingBoing (and about a hundred other media outlets today). There’s a lot of good stuff out there. People are doing things for their community, and finding a lot of cool bits of life to catalog and share, and this is one of them.

Remember when you were bored, or tired of everything, and you just wanted to create something that made your day a little bit more worthwhile? This kid did it out of necessity to alleviate being stuck in the doldrums of summer, and came up with something fascinating.

There’s a bit of greatness to come out of this- In addition to bringing the smiles to this kid’s face, and customers to this rarely trafficked East LA cornershop, the producers of this video have set up a website, and since my first viewing from four hours ago, they’ve raised $6,000 more towards putting this kid through college. It doesn’t look like the donations will stop at $25,000, either.

So, what am I going to do with my time? How will I showcase whatever it is that I want to do with the middling talents I cling to?

1) I can write. Sort of. I have the bad habit of not self-editing any more than quickly skimming these blog posts and changing a grammatical typo or restructuring a word or two. Overall, though, the end product of a blog post here is the direct result of sitting and typing until I run out of words to say, tied up with aMulligan Stew© Approved, Doogie Howser sanctioned ending. Somewhere in between, there may be a story, or there may be incoherent nonsense and internet babble. I don’t know. After I read them, I occasionally return to the scene of the crime to remember something, but I  rarely ever read old posts in their entirety to see how they come out.

2) I can cook. Sort of.  I mean, I know my flavors, and I know the dishes that I want to create in my mind, but I’m critical of my production. That’s not to say that I get down on it too much, but for where I am as a cook/chef/whatever, I sometimes feel like I’m underachieving.

I can sear a steak. I can cook a piece of fish. I can plate something that looks nice, and I guess I should be happy with that. If it tastes good, and if it looks good, that’s really all that matters. I try not to use those who have gone through similar experiences as a barometer for where I stand today, because back then, they were better than me at cooking, had more of the chef’s kitchen mentality than I did, and actually cooked a fair amount post-graduation in restaurants. This left me with an inferiority complex which I’ve mostly come to terms with, but I still wonder if I could hack it, or what could have been. These days, if I explain to people my trajectory in the foodservice industry, I usually include tidbits about how I came back from internships around the world with an ego that outshone my talents. When in that situation, you don’t see yourself for what you are. Such glaring perspective comes later, when you make the proclamation to those listening intently to your stories from behind the scenes of restaurants that you got out because you possessed a fire for the life that detracted from the food. You hear chefs talk about it all the time, from anybody who has spent more than a month in a kitchen who is willing to talk to you about what you once read in Kitchen Confidential.

 I never got too wrapped up in the trappings of working in restaurants. I was a passable outsider. Neither the strongest nor the weakest in the kitchen, I could do what needed to be done to promote a successful service. I could do what was asked of me. With that, I didn’t think I could hack it. I still had the lust for creating things with my hands, and the desire for tasting something new through the buzz of a third glass of wine, and to have the aromas and flavors float around in my mind as I relaxed after a few hard spent hours chopping, dicing, tasting, adjusting. I was content to experiment with my cooking from a place that was comfortable for me, someplace outside the time constraints and pressures that those who made it fed off of.

So that’s what I did.

Today, I’m content with where my skills are, and it’s easy enough to wow people with a strong flavor combination. It’s like watching someone break the tape on a lopsided hundred yard dash, leaving competitors in the dust. You see a small fragment of what got them there, and believe that the ten second snippet from start to finish is the greatest thing you could see or feel at that moment. It’s so much more. You go to a restaurant, sit down for two hours, have a couple beverages, some food that sings to the passion of your soul, and then you reminisce, but for those who do it every day, your dinner represents a drop in the bucket.

Planning a meal takes time. Gathering ingredients, pairing flavors, determining cooking methods, managing time- all of these factors go into making a meal, whether you’re in a restaurant or not. It’s easy enough to do it for a few people on a nightly basis, or a dozen people once a month, but for a dining room full of patrons with high expectations on a nightly basis, I would not care to be in that boat. I want to set up a special occasion with friends, discussing with them and fabricating a menu that we can create together. In continuation of my posting of a couple weeks ago, I want to make it happen.

I’m sitting, as I have been intermittently for the past three hours, with my recipe book to my right, the Gonzo documentary playing in the background, with the seasonal inspiration waiting to strike. I catalog my taste palate. I purposefully saved a spoonful of gelato from the other night because I wanted to remember the burnt peanut flavor and build from that.

I got ramps for the first time this season. Morels can’t be far behind. I just saw a dish with both, and asparagus as well. That’s coming soon. I have some nice eggs in the fridge that I’d like to use for cured yolks. I want to make pickles. Many pickles. All the time.

This is how it starts. With an idea. Now I’m looking for ideas for implementation, and execution, and of course, a few extra willing participants in making something stick. I want to start a Sunday Supper series, similar to how they do it at Nana, a restaurant just down the block.

I just want to share it, and I want to write about it, and figure out if it’s a viable model for something different, if not new.

I watched the hell out of this next video over the last couple days. It’s a call to arms for those who have some measure of skill and an insatiable itch to start a revolution from their range. Watch it, see if you catch the bug, and get back to me. I may not be able to do anything under a moniker, but it’s videos like the one up top and the one below that lead me to believe that there’s more that I could be doing with my free time, and with whatever measure of talent I may have. In any case, I think it’s time to push some boundaries.

Stagnation, Boredom, Conformity…The Time to Combat Complacency is Now.

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