Hello and once again Happy Summer!
At least I hope it’s been happy. Being a native of East Tennessee I know summer can be brutal. No doubt about it, this July has been especially hot, humid, and sticky. And there’s plenty more to come, but that makes the arrival of Fall all the sweeter.
I know the heat can feel like a heavy blanket, smothering the life out of you and making it hard to breathe. If you’re anything like me it can zap the energy right out of you. When that happens staying motivated can be hard. Really hard. I admit there are times when I’d rather put my knives away and escape to the luxury of a sparkling pool and a tall, cool drink.
Sure, summer is hot, and brings its own special challenges, but really, every season does. I’ve had my fair share of challenges in every season of the year, and of my life. There have been plenty of times when I wanted to hang up my apron and put away my knives. But…that just wouldn’t be me. Nope, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m giving it my best every single day.
I remember hearing someone say, “Gosh, you chefs, you’ve got it made. You get to hang out all day in a kitchen, cooking whatever you want.”
Well…that’s a nice thought, but…it’s not really like that. Each day brings its own special challenges. I look at those challenges as invitations. They’re invitations to do my best. To create the best menu. To find the best food. To cook the best dish. To serve my clients with care and provide the very best I have. That’s what it’s really like.
Sure, I get to cook in some pretty amazing kitchens, and I get to create delicious food. And I get to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for my clients. But it requires my best so they can have the best.
Hard work, perseverance, and a good dose of sweat equity. Yes, I said it. Sweat. I do a lot of that too.
I’ve had it all. Lousy weather. Long hours and longer nights. Days when I didn’t feel great. And even days when someone didn’t like my food. What? That’s crazy and hard to believe!
Yeah, I’ve had tough days. But hanging up the apron? Putting away the knives? Well…that would be…giving up…and that’s something I’ll never do.
Why? Because I owe it to myself and I owe it to you. You’re the reason I keep going, keep trying, and keep giving it my best. And the payoff is great. Seeing my clients satisfied and happy is one of the best feelings around.
I’m reminded of a quote that keeps me grounded. It’s been with me since the 8th grade when I started running. Steve Prefontaine, an American distance runner, once said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
I’ve done a lot of thinking about that.
My gift is my food, and I will never give anything less than my best.
So, hot days, cold days, hard days, long days – they won’t stop me, because anything less would be sacrificing the gift.
Here’s to summer and all the seasons to come!
Chef Kevin Culinary
Food For Thought:
Last month I told you about a book I was reading, “Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect” by Will Guidara. So far, the takeaway for me has been, “When you’re trying to level up, it’s easy to psych yourself out by focusing on everything you don’t know. But you’ve got to have faith in your ability to figure it out.” Now that’s a gift so have faith!
I’m always on the lookout for a good book! Do you have a favorite I could put on my list?
I tend to think of bright flavors and light dishes during the summer. I’ve got a dish that captures summer on a plate and is featured on my current dinner party menu:
Beer Brined & Slow Roasted Chicken Breast
Summer Vegetable Succotash (corn, peas, and edamame)
Corn Stock Beurre Blanc
Sorghum Peach Glaze
Yum! It’s a great dish for a summer party.