Chefdom is a real word -- it must be because it counts in a game of Scrabble. Folks ask me questions about how I got started cooking, so I thought I'd just share the short story about my personal journey to "chefdom."
I was a typical meat and potatoes guy growing up. Anything that had an onion or tomato or anything else that wasn't on a relatively short list of approved food items was not getting past my lips. And as strange as that seems to me now, it was a simple matter of "don't know no better; can't do no better."
That aside, I knew what I liked and didn't. I was always branded as a picky eater. Textures and flavors are things I've always had a very keen sense for. As it turns out, tastes can and do change. After being encouraged by my new bride to try some new foods -- like vegetables -- I decided it was only fair I cooked things she enjoyed. So I started to experiment with flavors in the kitchen and I started to try new things. I was amazed to discover that I could make broccoli that was edible. I discovered fresh green beans (again). I particularly enjoyed cooking for friends and family. Later on, I made friends with a guy who knew a thing or two about food culture. I discovered the way pairing great food with wine elevates both. It was amazing to see simple ingredients transformed. I started to focus on fresh ingredients and the more creative side of food and cooking. Soon what started as a means to an end started to become a creative outlet. Behind every success in the kitchen was a smiling face, a good time, an empty plate, and a full stomach.
I wanted more. I knew I lacked a foundation of technique. But who has the time or money for culinary school? One day, while scouring the web for recipes and new techniques, I discovered Rouxbe.com. I watched a video lesson on seared scallops with bacon sherry vinaigrette over spinach and having had great success and being impressed by the quality of the material, I decided to purchase a 1-year membership, which was $99 at the time. What I learned from the video lessons over the course of that next year changed my life in the kitchen. I successfully learned knife skills, how to make the "mother sauces", how to select ingredients, the importance of tempering meats, how to make bread, how to make a perfect risotto, etc, etc. I built a whole new foundation based on solid technique. This allows me to create new and unique dishes with consistency and without depending on recipes. I am fast and efficient in the kitchen, which means I cook quickly and I don't make as much of a mess doing it. I am now a lifetime member of Rouxbe Online Cooking School.
I tell this story because behind the pictures I post of my food is not an intent to be boastful. No, the point I can't emphasize enough is that there is no special talent here. There is passion, method, practice, and a little imagination. You can do it! What I've learned is that great cooking isn't a mystical art. There is genius in cooking but you don't have to be one to make amazing meals. I don't think of myself as a chef or a genius, but I make great food and I do it at home! I am no longer afraid to try new things and I delight in cooking for friends and family because I am proud of the end product. So in the words of my little girls, "Let's get cooking!!"
*** I am NOT affiliated with, nor am I paid, by Rouxbe.com.