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Do you Have Passion!
Some say you need a structured education in the culinary arts to be a successful chef? I might disagree with that assessment because I believe that when you have passion for something, you'll always be successful no matter what it is. Whether it be an expert at office politics, mathematics, baking or just natural customer service. It usually come from the heart and that is the secret of having passion for whatever you do.
But sometimes we might align the restaurant industry with all other industry's. You really gotta love what your doing being a chef. The ultimate leading up to being a chef is to be reviewed for your creation of flavor and presentation which can lead to the Michelin Star hopefully.
I think there is too much hype with this culinary industry, cook for the wealthy who can afford it but forget about the little guy. What are we chop liver?
Well, to answer that question, NO we are not chop liver but we have to get over one thing. Good food doesn't necessarily have to come from a stainless steel restaurant kitchen that emphasizes good sanitary practices. I worked in those restaurants and yes, they have all the right equipment, cleanliness signs are posted everywhere and all the sanitized chemicals were all present, but none of this matters if the mentality of the workers is batting zero.
Before the Coronavirus, all over Asia and Southeast Asian, eating out for dinner is a regular occurrence. The climate is so hot and humid, so who wants to cook after a long day at work. It's easier to go to one of the stands or eating shops and eat dinner for a fairly cheap price. Variety of food is outstanding. These entrepreneurs have kept the family business in tack for over 30-40 years. It's their business so its important that they take care of their stalls or shop to be clean. The idea of eating on small plastic stools with plastic tables is a little different for Westerners to understand but if you think of it, its the food that has kept these owners in business for so long. Can you name a entrepreneur business that has been around for a very long time? In Maryland, there are quite a few, so it does happen but why aren't there more?
In Asian there owner stands are called "Hawkers" and they specialize in on average one type of food but that one type is so delicious. From stir fry snails to sandwiches to fried foods to noodle soups, the variety is unlimited.. They all money but they put the hours in. Not exactly a 9 to 5 job. All these entrepreneurs operating as Hawkers started with a dream, a talent or just trying to survive, they all have a story of what gave them the drive, what they learned from past generations but most got into it to offer a better life for their kids by putting them college or university. They always used simple sauces not much to bring out the natural flavor.
You'll see Hawkers in Flushing Queens, Sunset Park Brooklyn and in Chinatown, NYC. Taste is unique. Why be a jack of all trades when you can be a master of one!
All this came to a head with a woman in Thailand that is famous for her stir fry seafood, particularly her famous crab omelette. She is so famous in Thailand at the night market that the King Of Thailand ask for a special meal from her only. Her advertising is people that have eaten at her place and word travels for fantastic Thai seafood, well, it did, celebrities, government officials and the regular guy goes to her place. She is so famous and her food is so famous that she has received a Michelin Star. She came from humble beginnings. She was a single mom struggling to survive. She choose seafood to help make ends meet. By cooking seafood, she could charge a little bit more She buys all the fresh ingredients, she's a one woman business. She's cooking and everyone is enjoying her meals. She's always improvising for new flavors however unconventional they may be.
So, a one woman cook, in a far distant land cooking her heart out in a stall with a wok and fresh ingredients and she earned a Michelin star without even expecting it. She just cooked what she does best. She has a passion for cooking and she's still cooking in her 70"s, go figure.
So, if you have a passion, find a joint, doesn't have to fancy and cook your heart out and people will appreciate it and in no time, they will come.
By Chef Woo Can at www.chefwoocan.com
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