In theory, the definition of a good cook should be easy to find. A good cook is one that cooks well. The one who can take a simple ingredient and transform it, through his/her own controlled intervention, into an edible, tasty, nutritious product, meaning into valuable food. In practice, things are slightly more complicated. Today, a good cook should be able to:
– Identify local products in an extremely globalized marker and use them in the menus
– Have notions of nutrition, which he/she should use at least as well as a nutritionist
– Reinvent at any time the cuisine of the country in which he/she grew up
– understand the differences between cuisine and gastronomy and treat both of them with respect
– be creative and diligent, ready to use all the time he/she has to deliver better and more food, maybe with the result of a greater profit for the owner of the restaurant where he/she works
– make full use of the ingredients that are available
– improvise and amazing menu starting from usual ingredients, meaning transforming the usual in the unusual without increasing the expenses of the employer
– be familiar with the ingredients he/she is working with just like a chemistry, food chemistry or physics PhD student
– never be tired
– never complain when he/she is tired
– never ignore the needs of the kitchen co-workers
– work in any position from the brigade with decent performances wherever he/she would have to work
– never be late
– love food and cooking
– never take into account “national free days”, “legal holidays”, “weekend”, “family anniversaries”
– have PR notions and social skills that allows him/her to sell the menu he/she created
This kind of cooks end up being in charge of the kitchen. Some of them, very few if we take into account the world population, manage to win gastronomic competitions, stars and positions in guides or prestigious international classifications, a place in the gastronomic history of humankind. Complicated? Perhaps a bit. Of course, no one is forcing you to accept the pressure, to seek performance, to want a place in history. You can very well be a decent cook, appreciated by an owner who doesn’t aim too high but who respects the customers and the investment, and also appreciated by the customers who want a decent, honest meal, but who aren’t looking for culinary revelations when they enter the restaurant.
Should the cooks who don’t tick all the criteria I previously mentioned (there are more, but I didn’t want to push it) be despised? No, of course not. I consider that their work, which isn’t at all easy, is very important to the society’s everyday life, very important for the present moment. The others, who have enough talent and craziness to accept the burden I described above, are in charge of the future. They are not working for today, they’re working for tomorrow. Their work, delicious and revealing, echoes well beyond the closing time of the restaurants. Their work makes up the books from which future generations of cooks will learn and will find inspiration.
Do you think that among amateur cooks, those who cook at home, for their families and friends, there are people with calling, talent, above average imagination and limitless passion? Let me tell you, there are. I’ve seen this kind of people during the auditions of the Masterchef season starting this fall and which will be broadcast by ProTV every Monday and Tuesday night, starting September 15th. I’ve seen people who risked everything for this hand, of cooking, people who can become good cooks, not just decent. People who have in them the virus the germ that makes you go to bed only after your eyes are red from the screen on which you’ve been watching techniques developed my great masters or from the books in which you seek knowledge and inspiration. You’ll also get to see them and bet on them, starting from September 15th, on ProTV. I’ve also seen other kind of things and other kind of people. It’s the same. It will be an exciting and surprising Masterchef season. You’ll see. Stay healthy.