Everyone has their own interest and purpose in life no matter where they are born, educated, and live. They love to do what makes them feel happy and have more interest. for me, that is called passion or hobby, and in-depth that is the true identity of a person. I graduated from the university and started teaching for a decade in Nepal but that was not my interest, that was my job. So most often I used to go to the cafeteria and help cook for our kids, in every occasion I always give my hand to cook that means I love cooking and later days in my career I am known for this profession and as a teacher, I did lots of cooking classes too. we always label ourselves as being different from others. Yes, we are because of our personality, quality, interest, hobby, and own unique characteristics. We represent a diverse community and possess a unique quality, that uniqueness makes an individual. A singular person, with a name that people call or are known for. For me, my quality is my passion for writing, cooking, and serving the community. That is my identity and for that, I am known.
I grew up in a diverse community in Nepal and India and now living in the USA. Ever since my childhood days, watching my mother, sister, sister in law cooking in the kitchen gave me a fair knowledge of cooking, and when I moved to Darjeeling for higher studies my interest in cooking also grew, and started making lots of traditional and ethnic dishes.
Now I am a published author of “The taste of the Himalayas cookbook, did dozens of cooking classes, wrote many blogs, articles, and shared recipes,s and worked as a chef for different restaurants in the USA for more than fourteen years.
Let me share with you my one experience of cooking as a passion, when I was in High School I was in NCC; (similar to Scout) I was selected from my School to represent the National integration camp for twenty-nine days in Sikkim, I had to spend every day with different students from different states of India, have to learn their art, culture and food and end of the day we had to tell as many things as we learn on that day and at the same time have to learn new things while walking in the villages and towns. Our Camp started from Namchi and ended after twenty-eight days in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, India.
After spending a few days in the camps I was quite popular for knowing their Literature and ethnic foods and I started making different dishes with them and recited poems. In a group, every other day we had to spend our time in the kitchen helping other chefs chop vegetables or cutting meats but soon I started cooking instead of cutting vegetables and most of the chefs inspired and motivated me to cook.
Later in college and university when we used to go for picnics, camping, or hiking I ways take the responsibility for cooking and I was quite popular for cooking those days. That was my passion and amateur hobby for cooking. But Life as a professional cook is not easy, in fact, for me, it’s a most challenging and hard job. I used to see my success in an empty plate of a customer. If I see any food left on the plates that mean there is something wrong so I always focus on those things to improve. For me cooking is an art and there is no such thing as perfect as science, you can make and present it any way you like but has to be the best in quality of ingredients, the balance of spices, and well-cooked without losing its taste, texture, and flavors. Our food’s taste, color, and presentation are what we are known for, uniqueness and your true identity. For me making perfect food is making my customer happy and satisfied, that is what I think is perfect cooking.
After cooking as a professional chef for more than a decade and a half and running a restaurant business, I always say I am not a chef, I am a learner, and every day I am learning something, may not be a new dish or cuisine but new perspective of analyzing the same dish I have been cooking for a long time. Even from a simple rice dish to lentils, there is always room to learn and improve. If you have that enthusiasm to learn you will find true meaning and purpose in your cooking or it will be just a job. It Could be boring or even interesting but that will be just a regular job.
For me, cooking is not a job it’s a meditation and you can meditate only if you concentrate and spend a long hour doing the same thing. Doing is learning and doing the same thing, again and again, is your experience, the knowledge from the experience gives you more confidence reading in a book or college. Your knowledge and experience make you comfortable working in any situation or under the pressure of the job. Skills are not hard to learn but your interest and passion are hard to develop in cooking, In my cooking I always tell my staff or student if you love cooking, you will learn all the skills and you will grow as a professional chefs, so focus on developing your skills. Skills boost our confidence and make us comfortable working in any situation.
Let me conclude with the remarks from some of the great chefs:
“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.” – Wolfgang Puck
“Cook more often. Don’t study; just cook.” – Masaharu Morimoto
“No rules. Don’t be afraid to do whatever you want. Cooking doesn’t have to have rules. I don’t like it that way.” – Masaharu Morimoto
One thing never forgets food is a necessary component of life and good and well-prepared foods always add value to life. Customers do not pay only for the food they pay for the creativity and art you present in front of them. The only human being is the creature who eats not only to survive but gratify their mind and body. So like yoga, for me, Cooking is connecting our mind-body, and soul.
This article was first time published on 03/19/1018
Categories: Chef Column