Food and Culture

March 2009 008

This is not your typical article about food and culture – far away places, the history woven into particular treasured dishes, how people interact, and how hierarchies exhibit themselves through foodways – at least that’s what initially comes to my mind. But, as I said, this is going to be a little different.

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions recently, I’m a bit more “engaged” in my work than I’d like – at least time-wise. However, as I’ve also mentioned before, I am extremely fortunate to do something I love for a living, so spending an awful amount of time doing it is not so awful. I love what being a chef means… the good, the bad and the ugly of it. I also love what being a chef has become to me.

I just returned home from the second night of a push that will last seven days and nights. This is on the tail end of a similar week, so I’m already a bit jaded and exhausted. However, I felt like I needed to acknowledge the exceptional experiences I’ve enjoyed during this time. My work with the French Culinary Institute goes far beyond teaching classic culinary techniques to career-minded students. My position involves spending a great deal of time working outside the academic environment in many facets of the food and beverage industry and beyond, including events with philanthropic societies, the design industry and other creative endeavors.

In this capacity, I spend time meeting and getting to know a wide range of people from all walks of life… from famous chefs and restaurateurs, writers, designers, thinkers, philanthropists, and creative entrepreneurs (even the sex industry has come up more than once lately!). It’s fascinating to experience what life will offer you if you are passionate, open-minded, and willing to allow your vision to encompass more than the neat package deal most people are willing to settle for. 

Life is a journey. The all-inclusive package tour is not for everyone. Step off the tour bus, walk alongside the locals, taste the treats offered to you, talk to strangers. You may find yourself a far richer person for doing so.

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