Often times cooking can seem difficult, tiresome, exhausting, confusing and not worth the time or energy. Or at least that’s what I thought. For the longest time, I saw cooking as something that was unenjoyable and unfulfilling. All the directions, measurements, ingredients, timing things just right and everything else involved was quite honestly, overwhelming and stressful. How is it that watching cooking channels, the chefs make it all look so easy and effortless? And how are you supposed to recreate a dish made by someone who has far more skill and experience than yourself? It wasn’t until recently that I had experienced a breakthrough and discovered a new found love for cooking.
This has been something I just kind of fell into. I wasn’t trying to make cooking into a new hobby; but due to the circumstances of the year, cooking at home replaced eating out. I started to look into new recipes and started getting excited about trying some of them out and have been doing it since. I started to find joy in making and creating in the kitchen setting. Trying new cuisines, recipes or ingredients was exciting. Getting to prepare meals for my loved ones brought more happiness and satisfaction than I had ever anticipated. I have become more and more comfortable in my cooking abilities and discovered a talent I never thought I could possess. But how is it that something that I never cared for become such a cherished thing?
Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, is owner of one of the world’s most prestigious and decorated restaurants today. Bestowed with three-Michelin stars and listed as one of the top five restaurants in the world, he has minced, sautéed, whisked and boiled his way to the very top of fine dining. I came across this chef as I was watching a MasterClass cooking class. I had only intended to watch one class on his pesto sauce, as I love making pesto sauce and wanted to see how he made his. But no sooner I found myself entering a black hole of mouth-watering cooking. Despite how delicious the food looked, what really captivated me was hearing him talk about cooking. Never had I heard someone talk about cooking the way he did. Sure, cooking is something he enjoys, but it was deeper than just enjoyment, it’s a true love and passion for him. There was such a freedom and effortlessness about his cooking. Usually when you watch chefs, they’ll tell you to add exactly one tablespoon of this or a half cup of that; not the case here. Bottura’s philosophy is having the recipe in the back of your mind, but don’t let it confine your culinary creativity. He talked about bringing traditions into the future, bringing those classic old family recipes of yours but allowing room for change and growth into future cooking. Letting your palate and your intuitiveness be your ultimate guide in the cooking process rather than being confined to a fixed recipe. Simply put, he calls cooking an act of love.
So much of what he said resonated with me. While I am a big believer in tradition, I do believe there is room for tweaks and changes along the way. Recipes are important, but there doesn’t need to be the pressure of always going by a set recipe based on someone else’s tastes and preferences. Allow yourself the space to be creative, think outside the box and try something different, letting your palate guide you. Cooking then starts to become an extension of yourself and it’s shared with those you cook for. I encourage you to give cooking a try, enjoy the process, cook with passion, cook with someone you love; you have the opportunity to share a part of you with your family and friends, making cooking a true act of love; all the while creating kitchen magic.
And that’s the dirt!