CHEF DEZ: Finding the love of cooking

Here are some ways to re-inject the joy in your meal prep experience

Recently, after one of my cooking classes, I was chatting with a woman who was newly single after years of marriage.

She was at the class to hopefully get some inspiration to cook more often because she realized that she didn’t enjoy cooking for only herself. In our conversation, I recalled a time when I was single and shared with her that, even though I was alone, I would always put on music, light some candles and pour myself a glass of wine.

“I was worth it” I told her, “and so are you.”

When rekindling a passion for anything, we need to really focus on the little things that can help enhance the experience. If the passion for something was once there in the past, it can be found again but we need to feel like the journey is worth it. For cooking, whether alone or with family & friends, there are many ways to embrace the process and make it special.

Let’s start with the planning of meals. The woman that I mentioned above did the right thing: get some inspiration from new recipes. Nothing too challenging however, as you may derail yourself from your plan. By making mealtime exciting through new menu items for your home, passion can easily be rediscovered.

When you eat out, what kind of food do you usually order? Maybe choose a regional cuisine that you have always wanted to learn, like Italian, or Vietnamese, for example. I love perusing through second-hand stores to find old cookbooks focused on types of recipes I have never made before. Obviously, the internet is also overflowing with many recipe ideas as well.

The next place to focus on would be your cooking equipment and the kitchen itself. Treat yourself to a new quality chef knife, a beautiful wood cutting board, and/or some decent cookware. Depending on your budget, this can really help encourage you to get back into the kitchen.

Also take the time to declutter. Go through your kitchen and get rid of things that you don’t use, or at least tuck them away. Find ways to get your kitchen more organized and that will breathe new life into this space and make it feel more enjoyable to be in there. If you have the time, money, and the know-how, maybe a fresh coat of paint, new cupboards, or new countertops are in order.

Shopping for ingredients can also lead to inspiration. Take your blinders off and realize that there are is a huge variety of foods waiting for you to experiment with.

Sometimes we get in habits of buying the same old ingredients we always buy, and our shopping cart looks about the same on every trip. Produce sections are a great place to start because the selections are often vast, and then move onto the imported foods aisle, and then the butcher and seafood counters.

Talk to the employees in each of these areas and get some recommendations from them as they are the experts in their departments, and they will know what’s popular.

During the cooking process, make sure you put on your favourite music. This really helps in uplifting your mood in almost any situation. When I cook, I take the time to chop and portion out everything in advance of the actual cooking process. This gives me an opportunity to thoroughly enjoy cooking without feeling rushed or stressed out from recipe timing pressures.

When it comes to finally sitting down and enjoying your creations, make sure you take the time and effort to treat yourself right. Pour that glass of wine, light those candles, and use your best plate ware and cutlery. Cloth napkins are also a must as they add a more refined feel to the dining process. Take your time while eating and really enjoy every bite. Embrace the visual appearance of your dish, smell the aromas, and focus on the flavours and textures when eating.

Lastly, the cleanup. No one likes the residual mess of dishes after any cooking adventure, so my best advice is to keep that music playing… and perhaps another glass of wine wouldn’t hurt either.

Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com

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