Dear Friends and Cooking Comrades,
Why do you cook? What drives you to prepare delicious food?
They say you either become a chef to feed yourself, or you become a chef to feed others. I think my motivation as a cook is a little bit of both. I love to eat, but I also love to cook for folks. In fact, I’d honestly rather be behind the scenes preparing a meal than actually sitting at the table eating it.
In the kitchen powering the proceedings, I feel like the unseen motor humming under the hood of a car and making everything move, taking everyone to their final destination of dessert, coffee, and great conversation. I love an evening that ends with walking guests (with full stomachs) to their cars and standing in the driveway waving goodbye to them.
About a minute-and-a-half after we start to cook on a regular basis, we start to ask ourselves why we cook. Thought comes in, self-examination begins, and we turn to introspective staring at our belly-buttons to figure out what ties us to food and our desire to prepare it. We’re looking for an answer beyond just cooking to survive.
Why do you cook? Did it start out of necessity to feed yourself or your family? What is the gravitational pull that keeps bringing you back into the kitchen? What makes you carefully purchase items, or grow special ingredients, or spend time at a farm stand? What motivates you to take those building blocks back home and turn them into a creative and memorable meal?
Certainly in my instance I wasn’t a born cook. Not by a long shot. I grew into being a cook. Sometimes I was praised for something I cooked and realized I might have a knack, an aptitude, an ability to prepare food. In between the praise, I ate a lot of mistakes! Often I was the brunt of jokes born from some culinary fiasco. For me, every time I failed in the kitchen I kept returning to try to correct the failure – attempting to make the recipe better – becoming more efficient and savvy in the kitchen. I wanted to take charge. The kitchen was mine! And frankly, no one was fighting me for it.
For me, embracing cooking helped me fight loneliness and eased me through a really tough time in my life. The act of cooking continues to help me negotiate rough patches in life. It gives me a productive activity that allows me to think things through. I am so grateful at my core to be able to cook. Why do you cook?