Love: The Main Ingredient

943884_10156461862970195_3349797162122064160_n  By:  Chef Rick Powless   

The alarm pierces the early morning solitude.  As I pull back the covers and swing my legs over the side of the bed, I recall the warmth of the bed before moving upward and onward.  I’m barely awake but I know what’s ahead for me.  Coffee.  A nice hot cup of loving, welcoming coffee.  I sit with my cup in hand, intoxicated by the aroma before me.  As I bring the rim of the cup to my lips, I embrace this moment of true love.  Eyes closed and a smile upon my face, I know nothing compares to this moment in time…nothing.

My entire ride to work with my second cup of coffee in hand, I ponder and replay the upcoming day’s events in my mind.  The words I have spoken numerous times and will repeat with great enthusiasm today have me reminiscing about what I do for a living.  I teach.  I am a first-year full-time contract teacher.  I teach Hospitality and Tourism at the high school level.  I am a Red Seal Chef.

I turn on the lights, unlock the fridge and freezer.  I take the stools off the tables and make a fresh pot of coffee.  You can never have enough coffee in the day.  This is true love.  I sit at my desk and prepare for the day’s events with the students who have chosen to open their minds with good food…good scratch food.  A sip of my coffee amidst the peaceful solitude at my desk before the first student arrives.

From day one, I have expressed my love for the food in both the process and in service.  There is nothing that expresses love more than sharing your creations with those around you.  As I say, “Love isn’t so much in the food we create as the joy we create within others that we share our meals with.”  Each day I share this wisdom with my students.  I have engrained this message within their nubile young minds.

What is this “philosophy”, you ask?  Love.  Pure, unadulterated love.  Let me explain.  We cook because it is good therapy.  It eases our minds when we are stressed, or unfocused.  We cook because we find that certain structure of assorted and random ingredients that become one in the name of a presented dish.  What an aroma.  What flavour.  What presentation.  This brings happiness and warmth in our hearts.  The smile upon our face beams like a bright, sunny day.  Yes, food is good.  The love and passion we possess is transferred to our food.  This is love.

Cooking angry or distracted…or even sad?  These emotions transfer to our food as well.  There is a solution.  Walk away.  No, that isn’t giving up nor is it quitting.  To explain this, I had a student who was making pie crust from scratch.  She wasn’t herself that morning.  The dough just did not understand her direction.  I saw that she had become more frustrated.  I told her to step away from the dough, go for a five-minute walk and come back when she had cleared her thoughts.  I asked my students how we cooked in my kitchen.  Their response was, “With LOVE!”  Five minutes later she returned ready to share the “love” with this dough.  Perfection.  Her crust was perfect, light, flaky and I swear it smiled up at her.  From time to time, I ask my students this question and their reply is always the same.  WITH LOVE!

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