Food, Life and Love

Lessons of the Kitchen

Brioche with Robiola Nostrana, D’affnois and Nectarines

It is remarkable the amount of learning and growth that takes place in the kitchen.

Exploration of Onions

You practice a dish over and over until you know the nuances in and out. You perfect your dough recipe and learn the scent of the ideal loaf without the timer ever going off. Last week my husband embarked on his second pop up restaurant with the theme “Lessons of the Kitchen”. The impetus of this lastest undertaking came from a buddy coming home from a stage at Noma, the number one restaurant in the world. My dear husband will be following in his footsteps in August and together they created a menu that celebrated their recent “educations”. The menu was beautiful, elegant and simple. Complex in the depth of flavors and rejoicing in the purity of each ingredient. As my husband prepared for the event it got me thinking about the lessons I have learned as of late.

Recently I have crossed several items off my food bucket list and with each item eliminated, three more take its place. I am savoring my current time in front of the stove but I have learned something deeper then just what is on my plate. I have learned something that trancends my time in the kitchen and is permeating my everyday life. I have learned to embrace the vulnerability in the imperfection and relish in whatever adventure life holds.

Risotto of Preserved Lemon, Chantrelle Mushrooms, Fava Beans

Think about it. We have all had a moment when that dish, the one that we have made a

Monkfish with a Beet and Monkfish sauce

thousand times for ourselves, that dish that when we make it for someone else, for a group, turns into a giant flop. The souflle falls, the stew is over-salted, the vegetables take much longer than expected, the toasted nuts are more burnt than toasted, whatever it may be the dish is not perfect.  It is not what we know it to be. Maybe we were distracted or trying to hard. We probably forgot a crucial line in the recipe but once the dish is plated…what do you do? Do you get angry? Do you pout? Do you make a big scene in front of your guests and ensure them that you are better than that dish? Do you take it personal? Or do you shrug it off and look towards the next meal? I used to be the cook that got angry and took it personally. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, lately, I have learned to just be in the imperfection, to grow from it, to accept it and to move on. The better I get at this task in the kitchen, the easier it is for me to translate it into the rest of my life.

I dont get so bent out of shape when my hair dryer breaks in the morning or I spill coffee on my shirt prior to walking into an important meeting. I dont feel as vulnerable when life curves in an unexpected way and the path I saw in front of me is just out of reach. I trust in my ability and know that there will always be another oppporuntiy as long as I am open to them. I love the kitchen. I love what it teaches me. It invests as much in me as I in it. Take a moment and ponder what the kitchen has invested in you. Think beyond the spices and smile at the gifts around you, the lessons of the kitchen.

Lemongrass Chocolate Mousse with Cherry Meringue, Port Jellies, Passionfruit Caviar

Agnolotti with Speck, Mortadella, Proscuitto in a Parmesan Cream



3 Responses to “Lessons of the Kitchen”

  1. Foodie60

    Beautiful – powerful. Thanks, I see my kitchen (and myself) through new eyes!

  2. Meg Walsh

    Oh Ali, Please let me know when the hands-on cooking lessons begin. I am so impressed with your abilities.

  3. Gera

    I love your life observations. The key is to remember them day to day and not slide back into our old habits.


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