Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Inner Chef

I enjoyed my very first episode of Iron Chef the other day, after hearing such good things about it for so long. I started out sitting back and relaxed while watching it on my laptop but that immediately got switched to me on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting the outcome of all the hard work from the two chefs competing. With “surprise” and rare ingredients as their only option to create a breakfast, lunch, and or dessert in the matter of only one hour, these chefs were hard at work. I was on the edge of my seat as I observed closely the two chefs, having only a matter of three seconds left on the clock while delivering their final product in serving dishes with a decorative garnish. It was only afterwards I thought about the talents and mastery of these chefs and could somehow start to relate. In no way do I mean in their expertise but rather their same challenge in finding ways to cook up the best recipe based off of unique and rare ingredients or should I say characteristics?

I began to love the analogy based off the concept of the show and what every individual in the world faces daily…ways to create the best ME using my own distinctive “ingredients”. I watched the show again paying attention to their attitude and different “styles” in dealing with this humongous task at hand, and thought to myself, how the world would be despite different styles we have, if we took on the attitude of these chefs in the kitchen and applied it to everyday life.

Focus. They were focused on what they were doing and NOT what the other chef was doing. They are competing to cook up something better but aren’t lagging behind due to negative comparing during the process. Many times we get discouraged or would be discouraged if we constantly looked at others and said…”But they have better ingredients to work with.” Or “They have a better opportunity with those better assistants helping them in the kitchen.” The chefs worked with what they had and they STILL cooked up amazing dishes because that’s what they were focused on.

Organized. They were organized despite the dumping of the “surprise” ingredient on their counter. They quickly accommodated themselves to this EXPECTED surprise. This is probably due to already having the good habits of organization instilled in them. Likewise, we can also learn to accommodate to “surprises” keeping in mind, firstly, that they often happen so be ready and secondly, staying organized is a key to easy accommodation when something unexpected comes along. Imagine when your life is already a mess than something new suddenly pops up in your life. It can either cause extra stress in your life since there was already chaos OR it can force the organization to take in effect the hard way.

Great attitude and courteous. This really impressed me. The spokesman would keep us in tuned to what was going on in the kitchen, due to their experiences. Many times the chef would kindly correct them, enthusiastically, on a few of their actions in the kitchen or an ingredient they added. At one point one of the chefs yelled out a question if they had anymore parsley left. Still busy with his own goals, the other chef said, “I have some extra!” And he quickly gave her some. Impressive. To accomplish the skill of team work WHILE competing is humbling and talented. We compete in order to motivate us to meet the best of our potential but the only way we can be our best is when we “play” fair and help others to meet their potential, NOT try to hinder them with certain advantages you have or disadvantages they have. The only loser would be the one who didn’t try to learn anything from the contest and perhaps what their weaknesses are to work on, despite who the actual winner was.

In the past, I’ve lacked many of the kitchen tools in order to help me cook up the best from my ingredients. I often thought mine weren’t good enough or the “other chefs” of the world had many better ingredients and helpers to minister to their mastery and perfection. Hmm…perfection? The judges are another great example in this cooking show of life. Some judges loved a dish that the other would completely disagree. While feedback (FEEDback :)) is useful, letting ourselves be our true judge is the best way we can reach our own potential and not others. What we often forget is that there is not a standard until someone comes along to set it. And with NOT one person sharing the same exact ingredients as another person in this world than “standard” can only be measured by you.

One advantage these chefs have is that they are picked because they are from the best KNOWN. They are master chefs who have been trained in what they do. Many of us have not been trained or experienced in juggling our ingredients in such a way to create a masterpiece….yet. The problem is lack in training, discipline and realization but NOT in the specific ingredients. The fun is in the course in training ourselves and practicing life with our ingredients. Many times during the process we either discover ingredients we didn’t know we had or we pick up new ones. We have to remember that Allah has created us exactly the way He wants us, that includes talents, strengths, weaknesses, handicaps, and all the many imperfections we may see in ourselves. We are not built in any way that will hinder us unless we allow it. So let us all put on our aprons and get ready to serve to the world the best and unique “dish” the world has ever had!

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