Friday, April 8, 2011


The issue that I face with being (or in the process of being) self-sufficient and therefore self-taught and luckily (somewhat) self-made is that I inevitably end up spending a lot of time by myself. Then again, I probably wouldn't have had it any other way.

I've now spent more than a year looking critically at who I was, who I became and who I now want to be. I haven't read a great deal, but I've learned quite a bit. I've taught myself new things. New cooking techniques. New recipes. I built a building. I'm building a business. I'm growing.

Aside from my wife, though, who's pursuing her own goals, her own education and career, I've essentially been alone in this process--and I'm kind of lonely. Professionally lonely, I guess you could say. Forging my own path based on what I believe is right. Cooking food how I think it should be cooked. Watching people's minds change with each simple bite of food I give them. It's what I've always wanted, to change people, to make them think differently, but I never knew that it would be like this. That being a "creative type" (not an artist), meant inevitably doing things alone. The things, at least, that will allow you to make a difference.

I assume that it's probably going to stay this way for awhile, too, if not even forever. This necessary solitude for the sake of creation. Allowing only those people "in" that you feel will either share your same set of beliefs or will benefit yours. (I'm not so narcissistic that I believe I'm some confined genius that is misunderstood. I simply know what I want and no longer feel that I should sacrifice those desires just to make a buck or gain attention.)

I'm mystified almost to the point of being offended sometimes when I meet chefs that I admire or respect, older chefs who have names that people know, names that people use in their writing. They seem so aloof or distant, often vague in their speech, almost unable to get their point across. It's not like meeting young, eager sous chefs who sing the praises of their boss. Most of them may never go on to have "a name." They'll always remain below someone, incapable of moving beyond their teacher. The older chefs, though, the real chefs, know who they are and know that they cannot let everyone in on their secret. It must be understood, not taught.

After years of dreaming that I could be the next Henry Miller, I'm finally starting to realize wasn't so much a myth or a genius as he was a man with a passion for his own purpose, bound by his own message and the need to deliver it to whomever might be interested. He made a difference because he wanted to, not because he was asked to. What I mean to say is that food can hold the same power as a novel, if the person cooking it looks past the spontaneity of each bite and into how it can create a lasting memory by making a perfect moment even better.

Teams certainly aren't for everyone. They've never really been for me. Even a superstar loses a bit of himself when he is surrounded by his coworkers. It's inevitable.


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