Maybe it’s due to my age, personality, social background, or just that I got started rather late in this business than most, but I find my biggest challenge in the whole process of being a chef and owner of a restaurant that tries to serve locally sourced food grown using sustainable practices is not the supply of product, but the demands on me.
I don’t see myself as a particularly talented or gifted person as much as one who is willing to make up for what I don’t know with hard work. Growing up, I was never athletically noticeable, but I have completed three full marathons which have served as reminders that I can push myself to do most anything. And when it comes to the kitchen, I don’t have a culinary education or respectable resume of related experience, but I can work my tail off. This is how I approach my work as a chef.
The word sustainable is getting much attention today, and the common agreement is that we should all seek to be utilizing food that is grown more organically and in cooperation with that which is naturally and normally seen in nature. But I see very little I can draw from in the form of inspiration to live a more sustainable life. There seems to be a disconnect if I am boasting about serving you food from a local source, and doing so while working a 70hr work week. At my age, how long can I expect to do that?
I am amused at my vegetarian acquaintances who disdain meat and have a sermon readily available to preach against the evils of ingesting such vile food, and then ask me if they can go on a smoke break. So you’ll suck tar and nicotine into your lungs but not red meat? Makes the same kind of sense as the label on the shampoo bottle that reads, “Not tested on animals.” Are you telling me I can wash my hair with it, but you wouldn’t dare wash your dog’s butt with it? The word is congruence, and it is lacking in the realm of truly understanding sustainability.
I have in mind for a theme of upcoming posts to reflect on what I am learning about becoming a sustained chef with a sustainable life, holistic and not isolated just to the kind of food I am buying and serving. Learning from nature, how do I allow for seasons in my lifestyle? I know how to put my head down and plough ahead and get it all done, but I don’t know how to relax very easily. Recipes for good food, I have, but recipes for a daily unwind come more difficult.
I find myself more comfortable writing as a learner, not as an expert. Over the years, I had to learn how to be a husband and eventually a dad. I had to learn how to open a restaurant. I had to learn how to be a businessman. I had to learn how to put it all together. Now I have to learn to keep it all going for the long haul.