August 20, 2009

Your Life Story on a Plate

What would your life look like as a 4-course meal? Where have you come from, what inspired you to follow your dreams, what reminds you of the dream you created, and where are you going as you create the next phase of your life? Tonight's last episode of Top Chef Masters on Bravo was exceptional and really inspired me. The 3 remaining chefs had to cook a meal that told a story of their journeys as chefs and where they came from and where they are going.

Could you create a 4-course meal that depicts your life? It doesn't matter if you are a chef or not. What matters is that you could describe your journey in a way that comes alive and expresses yourself in your unique way. It could be expressed as a favorite dish at a restaurant, one your mother cooked, or one that you cook. What is your story?
My Life Story as a 4-Course Meal
1. What dish would you create that tells us where you came from and reminds you of childhood?

My first course would be a roasted tomato fennel soup with fresh basil, pecorino romano cheese and a garlic cheese toast. The memories I have growing up are of my father's love for food and my grandmother's passion for cooking Italian cuisine. I grew up in a household where food was important and was influence by an Italian grandmother who appreciated the raw ingredients that went into a meal. My Sicilian grandmother Zena taught me the importance of using fresh whole ingredients, caring about creating a meal and then lovingly sharing it with others. This roasted tomato soup is comfort food and has my favorite ingredients highlighted. Soup is comfort food and reminds me of childhood memories that make me feel warm fuzzies inside.

2. What dish would you create that gave you your inspiration to become a chef (or whatever inspired you to follow your dreams)?

My friends and acquaintances were my inspiration for following my passion for cooking and creating a career out of it. I have had many people over the years tell me what dishes they love and that they really enjoyed my cooking. I dismissed these compliments most of my life. I never believed cooking could be my way of expressing my creativity, I was always searching for something more important. My second course would consist of a series of appetizers, dishes I created from my passion for cooking and inspired by my love for food over the years. APPETIZER COURSE: Spanakopita (spinach pie with French Feta); Marinated Roasted Portabella Mushrooms with Herbed Goat Cheese; Fresh Salmon Corn Cakes with sweet chili sauce or tarragon cream sauce.
3. What dish would you create that is a reminder of your first restaurant (first business, creation, etc...)?

My journey to create my company Maui Fresh Chef has certainly been influenced by the fresh ingredients of Hawaii and the Pacific and fusion cuisine. My third course would be fresh seared ahi with lemon pesto butter and mango pineapple salsa; rosemary risotto with buttery Big Island mushrooms; and roasted garlic asparagus. I could not have created my present life without my 7 years in Hawaii. This course represents my inspiration to build a future and be creative in the culinary field. This course reminds me of where I am now and inspires me to be even more creative in my day to day life.

4. What dish would represent your future, and where you are going?

I love dessert and a meal is not complete without dessert. My life is about layers. It's about colors. It's about flavors. It's about something that stands out and makes a statement. I would create a passion fruit cream trifle with a passionfruit chiffon cake layered with triple-berry sauce, mango sauce, and a pineapple sauce. Each layer would create a beautiful blend of colors and the dessert would be a showcase and an ending to a meal that people would remember. It reminds me of how life is about the journey, not the destination. Life is about creating a story and about creating the layers of life that make you stand out and what people are reminded of when they think of you.

So what is YOUR story as described on a plate? Can you remember where you came from? What inspires you? What brought you to where you are now? And where are you going? Can you describe it in colors, through food, through words? Your story is unique to you and it's important to remind yourself of your past so you remember your present and remind yourself that you have a journey yet to follow.

Bon appetit!

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