When we talk of creative fields, cooking is rarely mentioned alongside other artistic pursuits. Rightly it’s carved out it’s own area despite sharing so much, and to me it is one of the most challenging of the arts. Chefs don’t only have aesthetics to consider, there’s flavour, smell and timings to think about when creating a dish. And they have to do all of that, under pressure, in a hot kitchen – I am in absolute awe of anyone who does it as a profession.
I love cooking almost as much as I like eating. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I menu plan, and with that I try at least two new recipes a week. Variety is always a good thing. I’m ever expanding my knowledge and testing my skills – and it makes sure that I have next to no food wastage. The pleasure I get from trying something new on a regular basis is a feeling I relish.
Making it a hobby has definitely improved my evenings, how many of us get to do their hobby as soon as they walk through the door after work? I believe that cooking will help you to become a better creative, here’s a few reasons why.
Failure can be good for us, and cooking is certainly not without opportunities for things to go wrong. We aim for perfection and it doesn’t always go right, but I think that the environment of preparing a meal allows you scope for trial and error – it’s often how you discover something new. You can allow for little slips and mess ups, it’s all part of the experience. As a rule things are (mostly) edible at the end.
It’s great for learning recovery too, the immediacy of the situation requires you to think on your feet for a solution. Great practice for how to make decisions quickly.
Sense of accomplishment
There is something so satisfying about starting with raw ingredients and within minutes creating something delicious (depending on what you’re making of course). If it’s a particularly complicated recipe the reward of hard work and concentration is a lovely feeling. I’m aware you can make a sketch or piece of art in that time, but can you eat it afterwards?
Of course, one of the best things about cooking is that you can share it with others.
Flow is the feeling that many creatives cite as their reason for doing what it is they do, that sweet spot where you forget your surroundings and you’re entirely in the moment, and I find that cooking really does that for me. I find harmony in chopping and measuring out, timings, and everything coming together. I also like grooving around the kitchen.
I mentioned above about thinking on your feet and I certainly feel like I’m exercising a different part of my brain when I’m cooking.
Preparation and planning
Read the damn brief!
It took me a few mistakes to understand the importance of reading a recipe (and the list of ingredients) right through before ploughing on. The words “chill for 24 hours” when the rest is almost finished, or realising you’ve missed a key ingredient and that’s why it tastes funny. It also pays to read it more than once. To be honest, I’ve read through a couple* of pitch documents in the late hours to see the section of deliverables continues on the other side of the page. But we live in hope to learn from these mistakes.
The three words ‘mise en place’ have saved me so much time and frustration. And as someone who favours organisation, and everything being in its correct place, it ticks that box too. I think it’s good use to bring that method across to other creative work. Make sure you have everything you need before you get started and you won’t become stuck down the line.
*More than two, less than ten