With this very first post, I am contemplating balance. I have just been asked to contribute some thoughts to a Hospitality Business magazine article about ‘Chef burn-out’. I’ve felt the burn myself at times, and it becomes pretty obvious I need to pull back. What are some of my strategies? To remember that relationships are of the highest importance – it’s hard to be a perfectionist-control-freak in the kitchen without pissing someone off. To set boundaries – say ‘no’ to extra work that I know I can’t cope with. To let go of the idea of perfection. To have passions and interests outside of work. And to remind myself – it’s only lunch. What else helps you?
Balance is something we are taught in meditation as well – not to strive too earnestly, yet on the other hand, not to relax our attention so much that we lose our inquisitive awareness. We need similar balance in our work life. Or perhaps I should just say, life.
Sneh Roy, who has written a wonderful cook book Tasty Express and continues to post fantastic recipes on her blog Cook Republic recently wrote about how she lost touch with the real meaning of food after 11 years of writing, blogging and publishing. She writes in her post:
“I saw the world of food change from discovering the thrill of sharing your Grandma’s secret recipe on your blog and starting a meaningful conversation about kitchen memories and the taste of food to the mindless and excessive sharing of every meal dolled up with the most insane garnishes across all social media every minute of every day. Over the years I felt a loss for the true meaning of food. I believe that food is a privilege. And those who have it are very blessed. I also believe that with the way things are now, many people have forgotten the true meaning of food. It is not to complicate lives. It is not to create envy or depression. It is not to create anxiety or build pressure. It is definitely not to create confusion and resentment. It is not to show off a lifestyle or preach lack of one. It is not to make one feel like a failure. It is simply – to nourish.”
This is a great subject for me to contemplate this week, as I begin a new cooking venture having just resigned my position as Head Chef at a restaurant I’ve been at for the last 3 years. I am setting a strong motivation to not lose sight of what is meaningful for me in the realms of cooking (or blogging about cooking for that matter.)
From a Buddhist perspective, still on the subject of finding balance and avoiding burn-out, here’s some pointers, lifted from the Indian sage Atisha’s 7-Point Mind Training:
- Be grateful to everyone
- Don’t brood over the faults of others
- At all times, simply rely on a joyful mind
- And finally – Don’t expect a standing ovation
Have a great day, and may your food be offered and received with love.
Cool pic of a balancing egg, by Mike