A reminder that cooking isn’t always easy

I like to cook. I have felt that way ever since I was out of school and on my own. Being in the kitchen is a happy place of mine.

I don’t pretend to be any type of chef, but I think I can hold my own for many recipes and dishes.

To me cooking is all about getting in your reps. A lot of doing the same technique or dish to over and over to get better each time. I don’t think a dish ever reaches perfection, but you can get it close.

Because I enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends, it’s why I am enjoying Netflix’s new experiment where they have David Chang cooking for friends live every Tuesday. The show is called Dinner Time Live.

We have watched 3 episodes so far and my take away is, even if you are a decorated and world class chef like Chang, cooking for friends or guests in real time is hard.

I think due to watching all the highly produced Food Network shows and YouTube channels, we forget there is a lot we don’t see.

We don’t see the mistakes for the most part. We don’t see when dishes flat out don’t work. We don’t see chefs forgetting basic things because they are trying to be part of the dinner conversation while cooking. We don’t see the part of the process where the cook knows the dish is going to suck and they pivot.

All of those examples are classic parts of any meal you cook at home. You are trying to do other things. You are trying to have a conversation while cooking. Maybe your brain is just fried in general and you forget simple steps to a recipe you have done 40 times. I tend to do this a lot.

That is why I spend a lot of time on preparation when I have a recipe to pull off.

Watching Chang work in the kitchen makes me appreciate how hard it is to be any type of cook. It also makes me feel better about myself as a home cook. If even the most talented chef can flat out ruin a recipe, why do I beat myself up so much when I do it.

I know, it’s a little different when it’s my money I am using to by the groceries, but overall, the show is a great reminder to just relax and roll with the punches. Cooking should be an enjoyable experience when possible.

That’s why I enjoy everything but the baking side of things. That to me is much harder to wing or change on the fly as everything is so exact.

I prefer getting inspired by random ingredients in the fridge and figuring out what you can make. Lunch time and Saturday mornings are when I am the most experimental with what’s in the fridge, mostly because I am making it just for me.

Last Saturday, I started out with a plan to simply heat up some leftover meatloaf, fry up some leftover mash and throw in a fried egg.

But the meatloaf broke into pieces, the potato was taking too long and the egg broke. So what did I do?

I just mixed it all up and basically remade a meatloaf but this one was a brick of mash, meat, egg and a sad looking slice of cheese on top.

In the end, it looked like cat food. I was not very happy with the result. But it tasted very good with some hot sauce and completed the goal of having a filling breakfast. That’s why I like cooking. You can be creative and in the end something tasty can come of it even if unplanned.

cooking is not easy

If you watch Dinner Time Live, you will get a glimpse of what a cooking show is like without retakes, scripts or time to edit something to perfection. It’s more like what we all experience at home when friends are over and you are the one making dinner.

At times it’s chaotic. At times it’s just a mess. But at the end of the night, even if a tasty meal was not in the cards, it was an experience for everyone involved. Thankfully more times than not when we host for dinner, the food turns out and the chef (this case being me) can feel like a job well done.

Although why do I always feel like I could have done better? That’s a story for another day I think.

Do you like cooking for other people or would you prefer the solo meals where you are the only critic?