“How do we influence people outside of our kitchen, outside of our bubble?”
Photography by Stacy Landers Photography
I recently attended a James Beard Foundation program for women in New Orleans called: “Owning It.”
Throughout the day, several women in the restaurant and culinary industries took the stage to share their stories. From the many topics that were discussed, there was one quote in particular caught my attention.
Ti Martin, co-owner of Commander’s Palace, said: “The only real power any of us have is influence.”
My initial thought on this was: “How do we influence people outside of our kitchen, outside of our bubble?”
As chefs, we spend most of our time in the back of the house. For obvious reasons, this is where I’ve always found comfort. It’s where I get work done. It is a bubble of space and familiarity that is comfortably chaotic and utterly satisfying. There really is nothing quite like it.
But as Emily Dickinson said: “If your nerves deny you, go above it.” Every chef, at some point or another, will be faced with confronting comfort as the enemy that it is. A chef knows that comfort does not allow for growth. In order to truly influence others we must move forward. That means we must occasionally abandon our comfort zones.
Every human has a deep connection to food. It is as important as the air we breathe and the water we drink. That is the story that people so often fail to remember. I have never met a chef that began their career with the intent of making a lot of money. There’s a reason we are called to the line and put to the test. We are uniquely positioned to participate in the alchemy and wonder in the kitchen, leading to a delicious and provocative experience for those gathered at the table to enjoy.
We each have a responsibility to share these stories from whatever corner of the land or water we resonate with. We have the power to influence each individual and each community through the stories we choose to tell and with the food we eat.
Food is not only needed for survival, it is one of our greatest connectors. Food is a universal unifier. Food is a necessity and an art form that will not die. It will continue to tell a story.
A chef knows the ingredients: Patience, Passion and Persistence.
These days I find myself compelled to share stories that showcase the connections between those who grow and harvest our food and those who gather to enjoy it. As chefs, we are being called to action. We are called to share that story, and to share it authentically.
What stories will you choose to tell?
Originally featured on Chefworks