Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life Lessons Learned from Reality Cooking Shows

1. Certain cooked meats have to "rest" before being carved so they retain their juices and complete the cooking process away from the heat. Many projects--writing among them--need time to cool before they're sent out into the world,

2. Mise en place saves steps and eliminates a lot of cursing. Pro cooks and smart amateurs gather all the ingredients they'll use before they start to prepare a dish. Wouldn't we all cut our frustration levels if we made sure we had what we needed before we started something? Don't you hate running to the supermarket/office-supply store/hardware store in the middle of a task. (Remind me to make sure I've got a spare ink cartridge.)

3. A good chef's knife eliminates the need for lots of fancy gadgets. When my garlic press fell apart, I learned to smash a peeled clove with the side of the knife. With a decent knife, I'm a human mini-chopper—and don't have to take apart a device to clean it. The life lesson? Instead of pining for the latest software and a lightning fast laptop, let's remember that basic tools, brainpower, and effort are all we need.

4. Successful and confident chefs are less likely to sabotage their competitors. So it is in the workplace. The colleague who claims credit for your ideas, damns you with faint praise, and is quick to throw you under the bus is your inferior, not your equal.

5. The best chefs take risks. They innovate instead of always relying on tried-and-true recipes and techniques. That lesson is tailor-made for writers, teachers, carpenters, and others.

6.  No matter how skilled the chef, eventually, s&!+ will hit the kitchen fan. The oven will conk out, fish will spoil ahead of schedule, and someone won't watch the grill. The best chefs (writers, teachers, carpenters, and others) adapt and keep going.

Have you learned any lessons from reality TV?


Sarah Andre said...

What a creative connection, Pat! I never would have thought of reality cooking shows and my sloppy, procrastinating writing habits.

On the advice of my golf teacher I've been watching 'Master Chef' (initially against my will, as I don't like Gordon Ramsey's pushy personality.) One of the contestants...and they are down to the final a blind woman from Houston!

Not sure how many contestants began this show, but this woman has been voted back by the 3 famous chef-judges who are utterly flummoxed each week by her perfect recreation of the required challenge-dish. And I mean perfectly identical taste, texture and plating.

They keep asking her 'how do you do this?" And she says she can touch something and memorize how it should look, taste something and be able to parse out every single tiny ingredient and then- on instinct alone, she remakes the dish better than the contestants who can SEE.

This woman is confident, enthusiastic and delighted for her fellow contestants' sucesses. All the more reason I cross my fingers that she makes it into the next week!

I guess in keeping with your analogy...
1)if writers want something bad enough they CAN overcome the odds.
2)writers sometimes have to go with their instincts rather than 'see' what they are creating.
3)a positive, generous spirit gets you a lot farther in your relationships with your fellow competition.

Lark Howard said...

Great lessons, Pat.

We don't have television so I don't watch reality TV anymore. I loved Project Runway, though, and learned that designers with REALLY grotesque tattoos could create gorgeous, elegant clothes.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I don't watch much TV, but my husband and I both enjoy SpikeTV's Bar Rescue. Its main takeaway: if what you're doing isn't working, do something different! And ask for help from those who know more than you.

Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

My goodness - what a clever post! I love the similarities between cooking and writing.

I always assemble my ingredients and tools before I start cooking. I don't want to have to open drawers and cupboards, I want everything right where I can get it. And, because I'm anal that way, I put everything away as soon as I use it. Left over chopped onion goes in a tupperward container. Spices go back on the shelf. That way when I'm done cooking, I have very little to clean up and nothing to put away.

Likewise in wriing, I hate to have to stop a scene to look something up. I do my research all at one time then insert when I'm at that point in the book, or go back and put it where I skiipped it.

I love this post, Pat! And I love your new photo!

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Sarah, Pat Kay's been bugging me to watch Master Chef (I'm a Top Chef fan), and she also raves about the contestant from Houston. I'll watch the finale on Monday, I swear.

I so agree that we can overcome the odds if we want something bad enough and sometimes must go with our instincts instead of what we see. On Top Chef Masters last night, two chefs gave their competitors needed ingredients, and their positive, generous spirits made them winners in my book.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I'm laughing at your tattoo comment, Lark, and I think you're onto something.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Two smart takeways, Jennette! The second is one I still struggle with, but I'm getting good at coming at a problem from a different direction. Bar Rescue, huh? I'm going to look for it.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patricia,
Glad you like the photo!

I'm guessing you're a plotter rather than a pantser, and I admire (and envy) your thoughtful, efficient approach. Just as I'm part plotter/part pantser, I assemble most ingredients ahead of time, but am often flailing around at the last minute, looking for the vinegar.

LynNerdKelley said...

Great analogies, Pat. I don't watch the reality cooking shows. I used to watch Cake Boss and that was fun, but I don't have much time for TV these days. I do like The Bachelor and the interaction of the guys and girls. One season just confirmed that I'm right on track with my YA novel as far as how naive a girl can be and fall for a guy within a couple days! Nice post!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynn,
I remember those YA days! So glad I don't have to relive them. Good luck with your YA novel. Pretty soon, you'll have the whole children's market covered--from beginning readers through teens.

Louise Behiel said...

Nice comparison, Pat. I don't watch them but the comparison makes sense to me.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Haha, Louise. Looking back, the comparison I drew between meat and manuscripts "resting" seems like a stretch. What can I say? It made sense at the time.

Coleen Patrick said...

Super clever Pat. I watch a lot of reality tv (I always claim it's sociological research). After watching another season of Big Brother--people locked in a house with cameras for 2 months, their subsequent craziness reminds me how I get if I spend too much time on social media or any one thing really. I need balance! :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Yes to balance, Coleen! TV chefs repeatedly yap about adding acidity/sweetness for that very thing. As for being locked in a house for two months, ouf! Who wouldn't go crazy?

Good for you for choosing balance--and for being good at crafts.