I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of seeing all these social media, seo, twitter, etc. experts that are infecting the places we call home. Some I try to give the benefit of the doubt and look what they have to offer but I am only letdown to see that they are schlepping information they pulled out of an O’Reilly or “For Dummies” book. I began thinking about what this means, thinking is this it, is this what this industry is going to become? False hope. Empty promises. These experts are essentially selling services to show you how to simply use, some try to show you how to game the people on them; and for that they should be shot. But it did make me think about what differentiates people from “experts” and the people who really know how to create real results.
I then thought about these chefs and their cookbooks that they sell every twelve months and why people buy them. What gives them an edge? What defines them as special or the real thing? It can’t always rely on their celebrity, it can’t only rely on the ingredients required. So what is it that draws people to repeatedly buy cookbooks that are written by the same chef who only explores in detail one or two cuisines?
I broke down what I believe to be the key to successful chefs and successful cookbooks and why they become successful outside of celebrity. First, let’s break down the aspects of most cookbooks. They always have ingredients, measurements, awesome photography (food porn), a reason to make the book, and finally certain techniques and skills you’re going to need to accomplish the recipes successfully.
So I began to breakdown what makes a chef successful, which in turns helps a cookbook become successful. A chef has acquired skills, essentially the tools of their trade, they know how to use them with expert craftsmanship. Some are better than others in different areas but for the most part they are well equipped to handle the tools of the trade. Next, it is equally important for chefs to have an intimate relationship with the ingredients they use to make great culinary dishes. When they understand the building blocks of what makes great food and how to build on them they become more successful at their craft. To only know how to wield a knife or how to make great dough but lack knowing what tastes great is only half of the equation. Same if you know the ingredients to combine to make a great dish but lack the knowledge how to transform that raw product into a finished meal through timing, heat, prepping, mixing, and blending; you will inevitably fail.
But when a chef can combine the tools, ingredients, and skills together that is when you begin to see what makes culinary art. I once heard that most chefs, whether they know it or not, are working from some modified version of recipes crafted from Larousse Gastronomique and Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire which are over 100 years old. So with thousands of ways to make the same dish all derived from roughly the same mother recipe how do chefs define themselves with new cookbooks. Partly, they continue their search to blend and manipulate skills, ingredients, and varying cuisines to make completely new, relevant dishes that make people excited.
This is quite the long way to make my point but here it is. Too many people focus on the technologies (skills, equipment, the knives and blenders) that they forget they need great content (ingredients, fresh and exciting). Also, many people only focus on great content but lack the technology to propel their ideas to the right people. It is truly the fine mix and constant reinvention of both worlds that help business succeed. How can you be an expert of one without understanding the other? Great communication artistry is never self-proclaimed and is always doing what they do because they are passionate about what the end result brings. Great results is the combination of great people who know how to help you connect to the right people at the right place at the right time. Don’t trust experts, trust passionate people who have the skills and ingredients. Like food, the best often comes from places you would never think of and are created by passionate people who commit their lives to giving you their very best.