Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kindness in the Food Industry

Recent News Story:

Middle aged waitress in a small town strikes up a conversation with a customer. Shares that she has 8 years of art education and some day she would love to go to Italy.

Customer leaves her $1,000 tip to help her finances the trip.

From an episode of the reality cooking show Chopped: (Everyday Chefs from all over compete for $10,000 by cooking meals made out of bizarre foods, in an insane time frame.)

Warning, tangential thought. Why, you may ask, would l ever be interested in a cooking show considering I my refusal to engage in such activities? Because, even though I don’t participate in the production of food, I have been known to engage in the consumption of food.  I also think it takes some creativity to make an edible main course out of jelly beans, seltzer water and canned sardines in 20 minutes.

So, there are two chefs left.  One is this very sweet, young guy who as a kid made some huge detrimental life decision. He turned his life around and is the chef for a church camp.

The other chef is a dynamic, friendly French chef who came to America to start a restaurant.  She desperately wants to take a trip back to France to see her grandma.
All of you who are rolling their eyes at such a saccharine story, I say to you, don’t judge. I’m one of the crabbiest, most jaded, pessimistic people I know, and considering my peer group is comprised of middle aged social workers, that is saying quite a bit.
During the previous round, the French chef was running to the sink with a pot of boiling potatoes.  She slips and the pot spills all over her leg. Like a trouper she muscles through the round and then is seen by the paramedics. She has first and second degree burns but wants to finish.
Throughout the episode, the chefs are filmed in the backroom while they are wait for the judges to reach a decision. Usually there is some arrogant, contentious interaction, but these two are diplomatic and supportive.

Last scene, the church camp chef wins.  The French chef very graciously, thanks everyone, shakes hands as is ready to walk off.  The winner says, “Wait a minute. I didn’t expect to win.  I really didn’t.  I’ll make sure you get to France.” 
The French chef is stunned.  Then she starts to cry.

Because I’m in the field I’m in and because of what I’ve seen, I am an absolute sucker for an everyday hero. They just don’t come along very often.

Chef Yoanne Magris has a specific use in mind for her Chopped winnings, if she winds this redemption episode of Chopped. She wants to fly home to France to visit her ill grandmother. After already losing Chopped once, this may be her last chance to earn the money, and Yoanne powers through severe burns in order to win. Sadly, Yoanne is chopped in the final round, but winner Lance Nitahara is so moved by her story that he offers to use his own winnings to buy her plane ticket home.

#cook #gratitude #kindness

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