Gourmet Cooking. Who Does That?
Since I have taken up gourmet cooking as a pretty serious hobby, I've received an interesting mix of responses. Some people have loved getting the recipes, some have enjoyed the meals I've made and some have asked "Gourmet cooking? Who does that?" Maybe the question gets asked because I'm a guy and guys aren't supposed to be in the kitchen. Or maybe it's because many of the foods I am making are not on a typcial family menu. Either way, I'll attempt to answer that question not just for those asking, but for myself. What is it about gourmet cooking that has grabbed my attention? I believe it is based on my love for four things.
I have always loved a good meal and I have always surrounded myself with food. If I look back at the jobs I had growing up, almost all of them seemed to center around food in some way. I worked as a lifeguard and assistant tennis coach but my favorite shift was working at the snack bar. Nothing could beat those long red licorice ropes on a hot day. I later worked at a retail store in the toys section but enjoyed mostly hanging around the snack bar and buying things out of the vending machines. Eventually I worked as a night manager in a cafeteria and made mashed potatoes with more butter than I should have. Later it was a pizza chain where I worked as a delivery driver and Jeni and I enjoyed the extra pizzas available at the end of the night. And now I've worked in Human Resources for an International Restaurant Chain since 1999. I love the textures of foods, the presentation, the smell, the science, and of course the taste! I know we all have to eat but I really like eating (all things in moderation of course.)
For two years our family lived in Houston, Texas where I worked in HR for a gourmet restaurant chain. This restaurant served delicious gourmet food and I loved spending time with the Director of R&D who was an amazing chef. There's something about learning new cooking skills and techniques that fascinates me. She taught me about the components that make up a great recipe and I was able to watch the chefs at work almost every day. Their food was unbelievable and a desire to start making that kind of food grew within me. When we moved back to Utah I started taking cooking classes and I still hope to take many more. And the learning doesn't stop there. It's not uncommon for me to ask the waiter to ask the chef about recipes and ingredients when we're eating at a restaurant, even though it embarrasses everyone at the table, my kids especially. Of course I don't hear their complaints later on when I play around at home and try to recreate the dish!
Many of these recipes contain time-sensitive steps, require you to follow very specific instructions and to watch temperatures carefully. I love that! I've always been a planner and this allows me to combine my love for organizing things with my love for eating. I love doing dinner parties which require serious organizing and planning including mapping out my timing for the prep and production down to 5 minute intervals in some cases. When you're serving up 7 courses, nobody wants cold food! I find this very challenging but very rewarding.
Lastly, working with food is like creating a piece of art. Though my talents in this area are still extremely amateurish, it has become a creative outlet for me that I thoroughly enjoy. I think that's why I love shows like Chopped or Iron Chef or Top Chef. There is so much creativity and there's almost an unlimited amount of combinations that one can make with different ingredients. Some of the recipes I make come straight out of a cookbook, others I've modified, and many I've created.
So there you have it. I think it's important that we all do things we enjoy in our lives and what's better than sharing those things we love with friends and those we care about? So, if you're ever in the area and are hungry for something gourmet, give me a call or just come on over! Enjoy the recipes.