Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Lessons from Masterchef

I've been watching Masterchef.  There, I've said it.

And I love it, even though (because) pretty much every time (every single time) it makes me cry.

There's something profound about seeing this level of skill and passion laid out, raw and vulnerable.  Each contestant struggles with the constant presence of self doubt, lack of confidence, anxiety.   Hands shake uncontrollably as they struggle to place the final leaf on a salad, just so.

The lonely dignity of someone so utterly committed to their craft is moving enough.  I mean, this is cooking that is hard to imagine exists, were you not to witness it.  And they produce these unbelievable dishes in the same time as it takes me to cook my toasted sandwiches.

But it's the courage of committing to something so wholeheartedly that really gets to me.  By committing to their goal, they truly expose themselves.  By trying so hard, they leave no room for comfort should they fail.

How many of us commit like this?  Very, very few.  Most of us settle for a life of quiet comfort.  We avoid at all costs any loss of dignity, the risk of appearing foolish, of being criticised.  Increasingly as a society we bluff excellence.  We're in jobs that don't require much of us and so we rely on our possessions to tell a tale.  We worry about how much we're paid, what we look like, what others think, brands, logos. 

Yet as these 3 astonishingly talented but modest chefs filed out of the kitchen this evening I knew something to be true. 

When all's said and done, they will be able to look themselves in the eye and say 'I lived' in a way that most of us will not.  Theirs is a life dedicated to passion rather than one where comfort slowly strangles the soul.

Theirs is a lesson not of cooking but of living.


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