Saturday, October 24, 2009

Focusing on our Art Part II

Focusing on our Art
The Continuing Saga

Thanks to everyone for continuing to join us in the Chef�s Office,
although the newsletters have been few and far between, we are getting
there slowly but surely. Well, not a lot of CheffyBabbles, you have some
reading to do�

The first is from my friend and culinary mentor, Chef Bento, whom has
taught me the importance of taking my knowledge and expertise in this
industry to the next level of awareness, and the second is by my good
friend and Personal Chef, Marlene. Hope you enjoy it and look forward in
hearing from you on suggestions for future issues.

Focusing On Our Art
(A reply to an instigation)

Perhaps it is appropriate to start by stating my belief that without a
certain attitude to our craft, information, knowledge and skill are of
little value. It is what we do with what we know that ultimately
matters, not only the results but also the doing itself. After all, when it
is all said and done and only bones and breadcrumbs remain on the
table, we are once again back to work. What we find is a passion for the
process where the enjoyment comes from the labor rather than monetary
value or recognition.

Culinarians are a special breed. Rarely do we begin with the premise
of fame and fortune. It is the love of the work. Many times our work
evolves and ends up do be something different than what it began to be.
We begin with the textures, smells, colors, tastes and the
environment-and before we know it we are involved in the science and economics of
food. Perhaps this where many are led astray into a world of
percentages and cost and quality cutting. Subtly, often unnoticed, we turn from
the painstaking and dedicated side of our art to the shortcuts. On our
way to conventional efficiency we often neglect our emotions and miss
the true joy of what we do. We drift into competition. Less romance,
and more reality. Less time for discoveries and following them through
to the rewarding end.

Is food just food? Are all rice grains created equal? Why do some
people love to kneed dough, others pull sugar and still others create
sauces? Some people enjoy working in small intimate establishments while
others seek the challenge of large operations. There is no one way to
cook. For every level of work there should be a consciousness of doing
that work well and constantly striving for the next level of quality
and enjoyment of the process. All people are different and have
different goals. But if there was a common goal among us, let it be that we
focus on the enjoyment of the process.

Often we cross a threshold were one discovery leads to another. Food
is a sensual medium with an infinite amount of creative possibilities.
We can create exquisite flavors and presentations or we can hack out
unrefined impulsive messages. Without the underlying satisfaction of the
process we would be unable to grow and to teach others, there by
assisting in the evolution of the gastronomic process of food.

Focusing on our art is more about finding out who we are as individuals
first and applying who we are to what we do. We can not expect to be
detailed oriented, organized, clean and creative if that is not what we
are to begin with. Yes, we all can learn these traits and are
constantly seeking higher levels of awareness, but we can not clock in and
become what we are not. I have found that as I become more aware as a
father I become a better teacher and mentor in my job, as I excel as a
chef/manager my ability to take care of my personal life becomes easier.
All areas of our life are symbiotic of one another and none are void of
similarities. The challenge is to balance the two and give each the
attention that it deserves and you deserve.

It is imperative to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to
grow. Constant trustworthy feedback is the greatest tool for us to see
where improvement is necessary and to help notice our accomplishments.
Given a clear path and direct goals, we can enjoy the process of
working, learning, growing as an individual and living life to its fullest.
So go out and plant a rose, you will be a better chef. Sit down and
talk to your cooks, you will be a better parent. Enjoy the challenges in
the process, you will be a happier more fulfilled human being.

Scott Monteverde
AKA: Chef Bento

Focusing On Our Art-Marlene�s reply

We are all taught the invaluable lesson of staying focused early in
life, being and staying focused reflects the quality in everything that we

We are born with that almost as an instinct. As infants we focus on
moms and then surrounding family, and as we grow so does the circle of our
focus. As we mature we perform the tasks that go along with the focus
or learn to really concentrate. As we put these two together we create
our own little world where we can measure ourselves and be individual.
That is what drives me more than speed or any other components. I don't
want to be cookie cutter. That is one reason why I enjoy being a
Personal Chef, I get to do a different menu or style of cooking made to order
just for that client. I still focus on being creative and possible
meeting special diet issues if required.

To me there is nothing better than to distress or shut out frightening
news of war or problem solving then to cook in my own kitchen and test
recipes. Once I have created a dish I get to further enhance my
enjoyment by presenting it on a plate and seeing how many different creations
I can do. I have involved all of the basic senses and felt such great
satisfaction, more so than in a corporate world of paper pushing. I
might even be helping a type 2 diabetic or a heart patient to improve there
life. Now I know that I have purpose and have made a difference and
have true meaning. Now my favorite signature is "Life is to short for
'Fast Food.'


In referring to both articles, it is all about taking care of the
little things. When you take care of the little things you prevent big
things from happening. A very valuable lesson I learned from a friend and
sometimes employee of ours, Chef George. It is when we take the time to
smell the roses that we can really put into perspective the light we add
into someone else�s darkness�

Peace, Hugs and Cookies to All,

Michael Hayes
AKA �Cheffy�

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