I’ve been a little on the theatrical side for most of my life. I’ve sang in choirs. I’ve won karaoke contests. I’ve sang lead in bands. I’ve toured a little bit of the country (a lot of California, a little of the Northeast, and New Mexico). I’ve been in the talent show a dozen times. I’ve been in musicals.
But before all of that, I had my own cooking show.
When I was about 6 years old, I learned how to cook french toast. I would pre-measure and set out all of my ingredients on the butcher block in the smallest bowls I could find, and I would proceed to narrate to my imaginary audience what I was doing.
When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be “a chef, like my Daddy”.
(**side note** My dad is in real estate, and though he can cook, and has owned various restaurants in his lifetime, he is not a chef by trade. He is always the one on the hunt for recipes to wow and dazzle the family at special dinners and parties. Some of them are awesome (like the grilled corn he made this past summer), and some of them are big ol’ fails (like the Salt Crusted Beef Loin he made for one Christmas dinner. I think he actually put an entire box of kosher salt on the meat, and well, let’s just say it was NOT “a keeper”). But even at 6, I knew his heart wasn’t real estate, though he is very good and practiced at it. It was playing in the kitchen. )
Through the years, as I’ve been reflecting on this past week, I’ve always been in the kitchen and strived to succeed in there. I’ve always taken care of people.
As a child, I would set the table for my parents with candles, soft lighting, and our cleanest cloth napkins. We used to have a book that taught you how to fold napkins like the fancy-schmancy restaurants, and I swear, I wore that thing out. I’d create a written menu (with only one thing on it because I had already started cooking), and I’d have a podium for them to check-in for their reservation and my sister and I would seat them. Then she and I would eat in the kitchen.
I’ve taken a full day off of work to spend the day basting a turkey for my Thanksgiving in October because my Grammy was coming to visit (the turkey was SUPER dry, but I was 19, so the fact that I even attempted it was a big thing).
This past July, I catered a birthday dinner for my sister for her and 12 of her closest friends. They dined al fresco under a canopy of white lights and 100 tealights. The 7-course meal was designed with a “Fancy 4th” theme in mind, and included wine pairings. My parents were my servers, and I was the Head Chef. As I completed the evening, to many praises about the food and service from my sisters friends (whom were all mutual friends of mine), I felt proud and accomplished. I felt like I had missed my calling.
But I’m 33.
Last Sunday at church, we had a guest preacher from Canvas, a newly planted church in San Francisco. Pastor Travis is this young hip guy and he and his wife have moved to San Francisco with 26 other folks from Arizona because God told them to start a church in The City. I feel blessed to be a part of their obedience by virtue of loving the church that is praying for them and sponsoring them.
Pastor Travis asked the parish this simple, yet profound question:
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
Initially, I was flooded with “answers”. I desperately wanted to be “right”. I mean, who wants to be wrong when thinking about your God-fueled passion?
So often in life, I do too much, and then stress out when it’s not done well. It’s sort of like throwing darts at a dart board. Sure, you could throw 3 of them at a time, and hope that 1 of them hits the bullseye, but more than likely, the only place they are going to hit is the floor. You need to stop. You need to focus. You need to aim. You need to throw to 1 at a time for the best shot at making it “stick”. But even if that first dart doesn’t stick, you have 2 more chances. And even if those 3 darts don’t yield the results you want, you’ve just got to be patient and wait your turn.
I’ve thrown 3 darts at life for a time for a long time, and it leaves me is feeling frustrated, unaccomplished, and unfulfilled.
So, I’m stepping back. I’m slowing down. I’m aiming. I’m practicing. I’m throwing one dart at a time.
I’m going to culinary school.