Life as a Chef in Paradise...Easy or Hard?
LIFE...what an interest subject to talk about,right? and its one of the most important topics you as a kid have to decide when you are growing up. What interests or talents do we have that Inspires us to evolve as human beings? This are all different questions we ask ourselves everyday of our lives.
Since my childhood, I have always wanted to be a Chef. Watching my parents creating magic in the kitchen through the years, built some sort of solid foundation inside of me about goals and aspirations in the culinary world. I always felt like if it was a part of me, like if me and food would understand and complement with each other.
My pallad began to get educated just because of the expositions to different cuisines, techniques.. but most important; flavours. Don´t get me wrong, it may seem like i had it all figured it out at the time... but then .. LIFE happened... it strikes and challenges you like no one ever will. And if you let it, it will keep you down all of your life. In my particular case, everything turned upside down with my father passing away on 2009 due of cancer. I was 15 years old when that happened, lost, scared and full of sadness; but there was no other choice than to get up and keep moving forward. I began to help my mother in the restaurant by washing dishes(holly shit they were so many). In between that time, serving and bartending was already a training. You could say that from 14-17 years of age, I NEVER touched a single fire, but at the same time, the visual learning technique was getting better and watching my mom cook for so long gave me all the solid foundations of italian cuisine.
After 2 years of Culinary School, learning the basics from french techniques, pastry,japenese, mexican, to advanced cooking. It was really mind opening; something new everyday, meeting a lot of talented people aspiring to be great ( and others where just rich spoiled kids that barely lasted 1 semester) and honestly most of those talented people were kicking my ass cooking wise in many areas by then.
I dropped out of school because of my personal life situation; had to work here (in MA) and sustain myself. It was just not possible for me to keep paying and sustaining both lives. After taking the decision to quit school, the mind shifted. It was time to RELEARN absolutely everything learned in those 2 years of education.I believe by the time I was in College, the environment, “the experience”, and many other factors, were not letting the mind focus the way it had to. There is a difference between knowing how to do somehting just for the act of doing in it and learn the process; than to actually UNDERSTAND THE WHY OF IT. Back in School, I was just following recipes, not quiet understanding what was going on. Once I started question this, every single thing changed. It was not anymore about the recipes... about reading and learning them... it was deeper and intensier than that. Understanding the “why” of the processes, techniques and ingredients... released a MIND EXPANSION like non before. I became obssesed with it. I was working my shift in the restaurant where I was the head chef , finished and stayed until 2 or 3 am studying, practicing and FAILING. I guess FAIL was my best teacher. The idea of gettting yourself to really understand something by its roots and having the freedom to fail is actually way harder than what it may seems and sounds like. At the end of the day, everything related in cooking is science! Everything you cook, it changes its molecular structure; by applying heat or cold, it changes textures, flavours, densities, aromas...
So when you start asking yourself the Scientific Root out of it, all the ideas become simple and easy. One of my biggest menthors has been “ Hesthon Blumenthal”, one of the best chefs in the world and famous for self teaching himself approaching gastronomy in a very Scientific way. He started to question absoultely EVERYTHING; contradicting many of the “ All time” sayings and recipes, uses of ingredients... and by all of this, his restaurant “The Fat Duck” was declared best restaurant in the world for many years.
What makes me happy? Well, there are 2 things... Cooking and Surfing: demystified would be Professional and Mental Grow. The internal battle I have to go through daily to mantain a balance in my life so both of them are equal as stong, improving and learning is one of the hardest things I have to go through in my life. The anxiety rolling over inside your body and mind affects in so many ways.and moving to a mayor city away from the surf and nature, inside a building 15 hours a day under the biggest stress, mental and phisical torture, didnt seem very reasonable and wise, it would mean throwing myself spiritually in suicide. AGAIN, do not get me wrong, LAZY is NOT in my VOCABULARY, is all about being smart, curious, humble and hard work, but NEVER in ROUTINE!.
By choosing living in paradise as a free soul, and growing and evolving as a professional chef is twice as hard as it would be locked up in a city, and your system and way to see and perceive different aspects of life change, this is because the only motivation you have around is yourself and the environments you get exposed to. When I feel too comfortable in a situation, always manage to somehow complicate it and keep it intersting;otherwise, we dont evolve and our worst enemies decide to knock in our door; COMFORT and ROUTINE. Because of that we need situations in our life that recharge, bring the life back and remind us how alive and connected we are with nature. The Chef Life is my INTAKE of energy; my motivation to be someone with the deepest connection with nature and feel at the same time I can give something back to the world. . The sensation on being by the stoves in total control, cooking, smelling and feeling wth my body; gives me the confidence enough to motivate myself. Surfing is my RELEASE, where my pain, sadness, stress and depression transforms into a positive and happy Source of Energy (“Energy is not created or destroyed, it only transforms”). Is that place where I can reset my thoughts and get ready for the new Intake....the Cyrcle of Life... Flow of Energies... However you want to call it, the idea is to LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE.
So, is it the life of a Chef in Paradise Harder or Easier? I guess it depends how you want to see it and approach it, and how much are you really intersted on pursuing a passion? Life is all about perception...
Did you liked my 1st entry? Make sure you follow my journey as a chef and surfer in my INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT www.instagram.com/cheffratini/ .so you we can connect and meet!
I will be posting a new entry every Sunday in the evening.
Much Love, Manuele