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Life lessons from a Master Chef!

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Life lessons from a Master Chef!

“Perfection is lots of little things done well,” says Marco Pierre White, celebrity chef, restaurateur and television personality, who is often called the godfather of modern cooking. He was one of the youngest chefs to be ever awarded three Michelin stars and he later trained other famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Curtis Stone. And ever since food has become ‘the new religion’ across the world, chefs have become the dazzling new stars in the horizon and cooking has turned into a passion worldwide.

We have been watching Marco in action for quite some time now in the TV series Master Chef, a show where young amateur contestants vie with one another to win the title of the best chef. They are sometimes mentored by Marco White himself.

Another judge on one of the shows is Matt Preston, a food journalist and restaurant critic who never hesitates to speak glowingly about his friend Marco. I recently found an interesting article written by Matt on what he had learnt about cooking from Marco over the years.  The more I reflected on these ideas I realized that there are so many ways to interpret advice. Sometimes the best lessons of life are not learnt from the books. Wisdom can be imparted in so many surprising ways by people from all walks of life. Now, when I walk into my kitchen, it is Marco’s words that I hear in my head and today, I look at my shiny pots, my busy kettle and the simmering broths on my stove with new eyes and new reflections.

According to Matt, one of the first tips to remember while cooking is to “never underestimate the importance of a good mise-en-place.” The word ‘mise-en-place’ is a French phrase which means “putting in place” or setting up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organising and arranging the ingredients before you start cooking. This preparation would include slicing vegetables, measuring and placing the spices in bowls, cutting up the meats and getting the relishes ready. In short, nothing should begin till you are ready. It might seem such a waste of time to do so much preparation but experts say you end up saving time because you have taken the effort to be organized. According to Marco, ‘Strategy can compensate for lack of talent, but talent never compensates for lack of strategy.’

What a golden rule for life itself! God Himself created a Master Plan for the world. He prepared a beautiful earth beforehand, set flora and fauna in place and made sure everything was planned out to the last detail before He created his most important being – man—to enjoy it. What’s more God still has plans for us. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We always dream about big things in our spiritual life, but we often forget that there are years of preparation required for them. There is a mis-en-place that needs to be set up in life too. It might mean months of ceaseless prayer, years of renewing our minds, hours of studying and meditating on God’s word and days of serving Him in the smallest of situations before He can call us to do bigger things.

Another interesting maxim from Marco is, “Ego is the most poisonous sauce in the kitchen’.  This is perhaps one of the hardest lessons we can ever apply in life. While Marco’s advice has to do with cooking for people with love, working as a team in humility and never thinking you are too old to learn new things, we can take this many steps further. Often, we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves. The world advises us to feed our ego all the time. Think about it. On social media sites like Facebook — we make sure we show off our achievements and subtly brag about our successes. In self help books we are advised to flaunt our talents however minimal they may be. In the corporate world, the ones that get ahead are the ones who fight to get to the top regardless of who they trample on the way. In short, we are constantly being urged to keep our ego high and aggression at its peak.

The Bible however advises us to ‘die to self’ and ‘walk humbly before God.’ Colossians 3:12 says: As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with….humility, gentleness and patience.

It is only when welearn to throw ego out of the mix, and out of our lives, and only when we learn to value other people more than ourselves can we be entrusted with great tasks in the kingdom of God.

And the final tip from Marco was: “Don’t mess up the beauty of good, fresh produce.” Whether it is procuring succulent meat, finding fresh herbs, selecting golden potatoes or gathering leafy greens, you need to aim at getting the best products on your kitchen table and then making sure that they stay that way even as you cook. Most celebrity cooks say that we ruin our cooking by over-spicing fresh vegetables and meats and smothering our food with spices that take away the beautiful flavour of the produce.  Marco warns us against doing this and advises that we learn to keep things simple.

If I were to look into our own minds, it is truly like a kitchen. It is the place where ideas stew, emotions boil over and pressures simmer for days on end. How often do we pick up ingredients like hate, dislike, jealousy, anger, worry and bitterness and add them to the cauldron of our thoughts every day. We cook up a storm of negativity in our minds over time and soon the sweetness of each day is ruined because we did not choose the right ingredients. We need the refreshing and precious ingredients of God’s precious Word to live a balanced life. If we fill our minds with ingredients that are true, noble, reputable and gracious, how different our lives would be. As the Bible says in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

So, as we start another season of life when the monsoons will roll in and grey clouds of gloom will fog up many days, it is good to remember that we are never too old to learn how to live life well. Like a true Master Chef our power lies in the ability to do the small things of life carefully and learning to do them well. It is only then that we will be ready for greater tasks, because when the delicious aroma of a Godly life rises up to the heavens, our Master in Heaven will take over and what a feast He has in store for us!

By Asha Chowdary 

 Asha Chowdary is a writer, journalist and blogger stationed at Bangalore

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