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COOKING IS CARE, FOR YOURSELF AND FOR OTHERS…


This week I want to talk about cooking’s ability to show care for yourself and for those around you. Take care of yourself and others and we will weather all storms together!

Care is the Secret Ingredient


The reason everyone loves Grandma’s (or Grandpa’s) cooking is because of the care that they put into their food. Imagine cooking for the most special person in your life while thinking about them the whole time you are cooking. You would really care about what you are doing because you want it to be the best you possibly can do. Care sharpens your focus, increases your attention with all the little things, and gives you a flow that comes from being in love and in the moment. I like to call this putting the love into your food, all the little extra attention you give to making it extra special... And if I have been lucky enough to have learned anything from my grandparents, it’s that they love their grandchildren more than anything. And you can taste that in every meal they prepare for them. Cooking with this type of love in your heart shows through in your food and is one of the marks of a great chef, whether you are a professional chef or simply someone cooking for yourself or a loved one! Cook with care and it’ll make your food better every time!


Care for Yourself While Caring for Others


Another wonderful way care shows up in cooking is in helping connect you to the moment. This is how it can become a mindfulness exercise because you need to be present and paying attention to what your hands are doing in order to be safe and to cook delicious food. In the same way that meditation teaches you to focus on your breath in order to ground you and not let negative or worrisome thoughts build into stress, cooking requires that same focus and attention to what you are doing in the moment and thus can give that same grounding effect as meditation. And a wonderful byproduct is a great meal you can share with others! Talk about a win-win!


Not a “Thing”


And similar to mediating, it doesn’t need to be a whole “thing” to create those positive effects. Of course, you can try baking a new recipe that will take some time to pull off and thus provide hours of pleasant focus to keep your mind occupied and give you a nice reset in the process. That's great! But thinking that you need to take hours out of your day to get a benefit is a daunting task that can stop you before you start because it seems like such an undertaking. Taking a moment of (self) care in cooking can also be as simple as just thinking about what you are going to add to flavor your mashed avocado for a fancy toast moment or whether you’d like to add some honey to your morning smoothie because the banana isn’t quite ripe yet. Even these little moments of care give you a gentle focus that keeps negativity and stress at bay and gives you a little mental boost. Plus makes your food better in the process! It doesn’t take hours or need to be a “thing” to allow the act of cooking to be an act of self care at the same time.


Self Care With Others


One of the reasons people who cook a lot together often end up developing deep connections is because cooking requires just enough focus to provide a wonderful environment for good conversation. Your focus is drawn enough with what you are doing to let your natural, societal guards down a little and communicate more earnestly, less filtered, and truer to your inner self. Some of my best friends have come out of kitchens because of the lightly or non-filtered (and sometimes brutally honest) conversations that happen outside of (and partially because of) all the necessary kitchen communication. This is also why if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to cook with your grandparents, it is such a wonderful memory. Because not only is there the care I already spoke of, but also because your connection is being strengthened by completing a task together, there is the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next, and because you are distracted just enough to let your true selves show to each other. This doesn’t need to be limited to cooking with grandparents, but the analogy is a great way to illustrate some of the self-care benefits that come from cooking together with one another!


When I needed it


On a personal note, many times over the years, cooking has helped my mind before I really thought about the mental benefits cooking provides. Occasionally while running the kitchens of two restaurants (Six Plates Wine Bar and Mattie B’s Public House), the stress and negativity would build and I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time. I finally realized it was partially because I hadn’t spent enough time in the kitchen actually cooking. I was there all the time, but managing a team of cooks and creating dishes for others to execute is different from actually cooking in terms of the benefit to the self. When I finally realized that it was cooking that I was missing, I would just “go cook” (instead of manage) for a while and the stresses would recede, my outlook would improve, and my team would get stronger in the process. Cooking literally would help heal and restore my mind simply through the act of doing. That doesn’t mean cooking is always an easy thing to do (even for a professional), but it has always helped to calm my mind when doing it with intention and care.


I wanted to share this thought with you so that hopefully by knowing this, your cooking can help you to be more centered, calm, and grounded every time you step into the kitchen. Cooking with care and when possible, with others, is a beautiful way to show care to yourself and those around you while at the same time making some delicious food! Hope you enjoy it to the fullest!


Happy Cooking Y’all!

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