My Life with a Knife
Rank #21 of 1949
About my essay:
In a perfect world, I’d have more time for family, friends, maybe a little therapy. Turns out, I have plenty of time to cook. I cook well to make THIS world a little more perfect.
I don’t call my mother enough. I never notice when my wife gets her hair done. I’ve been known to grin when I make a new waitress cry. My life with a knife is not one of walking around the kitchen spewing kind things to say and words of encouragement. It is one filled with long hours, stress, and deadlines. It’s a world where I spend too much time making the rich love my food and too little time letting the people I love enrich my life. In a perfect world, I’d have more time for family, more time for friends, maybe a little time for therapy. Turns out, being a chef, I have plenty of time to cook. So I cook well to make THIS world a little closer to perfect for the people close to me.
My most memorable meals have been an expression of love for the most important people in my life. I know it sounds cliché but for this angry chef all of those extra special ingredients - that splash of truffle oil, that dash of sea salt, that spoonful of duck fat…they’re what pass as tokens of affection from a guy like me. A day in upstate New York ten years ago spent making cassoulet with homemade venison sausage for my girlfriend, now my wife, helped me say “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” A truffled lobster mac and cheese a few years back in Key Largo for a grief-stricken friend who had just lost a child meant “I’m so sorry for your loss.” An occasional “Porkapalooza Sunday” at home with pork butt and brisket smoking over cherry wood in the back yard and a few cold beers for my friends translates to “Thanks for being crazy enough to put up with me”.
There’s nothing more satisfying to me than watching the face of someone I love take that first bite of something I've made for them. Their eyes get wide and light up. The corners of their mouth curl upwards and they start to chew slowly savoring each second. Then they make that guttural “Mmmmmmmmmmm.” The sound that translates worldwide as “Wow, that’s good!” I can rest easy that night knowing that one satisfied important person in my life knows that I love them.
But I’d be lying if I said I cook well ONLY to express my love. Fame, fortune, ego, pride and a fierce, passionate love for what I do are all good motivators as well. If you’re not striving to be the best at what you do, why bother right? And let’s face it. If I cooked well only for the people I loved, I’d be out of a job. I just don’t love that many people.