A wonderful educator at my children’s school in Vietnam used to talk passionately about life long learning and it has become a catch phrase in our home. All of us at times, need to remember to stop and listen and learn from each other. Entering MasterchefNZ was a crazy decision at my age, yet it fit in to our family’s view – try anything and everything; be prepared to learn; don’t give up but jump at opportunities when they present themselves.
In the food world I have many heroes – writers, chefs and cooks – all who show serious passion for what they do. They usually have big personalities, strong spirit and tell amazing stories. One of my more recent heros in the culinary realm is David Chang http://www.facebook.com/davidchang.momofuku . His book, Momofuku, captured my attention and I have literally read every word. David loves ramen, Japanese noodles, and he made it a point to learn and perfect the craft of handmade noodles. He didn’t really know what he wanted in life but he knew what he didn’t want. I often feel like that and can so relate to much of what David shares in his book. His journey of self discovery through following his passion hit a nerve for me.
Then of course come the recipes. They are quirky and crazy. At times they are so full of elements that you are not sure where to start. Often , when I cook from his book I wish that I lived in America and could pop down for a steaming bowl of noodles from one of his off-beat bars. As I am not able to do that I simply follow his premise that “….the most important thing is that you make it delicious not that you make it exact…..”
David Chang’s tips are the treasures that I committed to memory. His quick salt pickle where you sprinkle finely sliced vegetables with a 3:1 mix of sugar and sea salt. Or his dessert queen, Christina Tossi’s, classic crumb mix, in the book Momofuku ‘MILK’. The later of course was my inspiration when I had 30 minutes to wow the judges on MasterchefNZ with a crumble elimination challenge against my dear friend and co-competitor Ella Krauts.
So, my mantra is to keep on learning and to remember that everything can always be improved upon. I will continue to draw inspiration from my heroes, such as David Chang, who says “Winning awards and success was never part of the plan. It was about trying to do something honest, a journey of personal growth.” And I am going to remember to keep on, as my heroes have done, with the thing I am most passionate about – cooking!