In the U.S. this week everyone is gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday by giving thanks & thinking about FOOD. Perusing cookbooks for new recipes, dusting off trusted family favorites… compiling menus whilst contemplating how to please everyone? Answer: many options (which means rather long-ish menus & lots of quality kitchen time for the family cooks…)
So, today at Roses in the Rubble be inspired by a different sort of (rather muscular) Rose: the culinary celebrity, Robert Irvine.
hmmn, some of you (especially my international buddies) might ask, who’s he?
When i first returned from working in Africa i had no idea who he was either, but saw an advertisement in the local paper that he (a Food Network Chef) would be signing cookbooks that evening. Thinking it would be a rather cool auntie thing to get an autographed cookbook for my niece Joy (who was getting married soon), i zoomed the 30 minutes from Williamsburg to Newport News (our nearest Big City) to find a LONG line at the Barnes & Noble. Undeterred, i merrily waited (hot drinks? treats from the B&N Cafe to go with?) interacting with fans, aspiring young chefs, older gents & ladies. Non-stop conversations made the 2 hour wait zoom by…
Then it was my turn… and i could not say A WORD!
Pourquoi? MUSCLES !!! Chef Robert Irvine’s Mr. Universe type muscles bulged from his fitted sport shirt. I’ve always crushed on cerebral Cross Country-ish fellows (kinda skinny runner types?) but, geez, i could hardly stammer two words whilst asking for the long waited autographs. He wrote the NICEST inscription to my niece & her husband, however, wishing them well in their marriage (Joy & Randy are now blessed with three little ones under 3…) And, of course, a cookbook had been procured for ME (i, ah, sort of have this thing about Books? well, ditto for cookbooks, always adding to the >200 Collection!) Chef Robert had a rather bemused smile inscribing the cookbook for still-stuttering Virginia.
Whew(!) I had never seen the Dinner Impossible show, but you can be sure i’ve seen many episodes since then. (It’s lots of fun, give it a watch!)
So, this Chef has muscles. How exactly (beyond the obvious eye candy angle) is that inspirational? … Back to our story. Upon returning home i stayed up into the wee morning hours reading THE COOKBOOK. (As an avid reader, i’ve spent sleepless nights with the latest Daniel Silva spy thriller or Lois McMaster Bujold sci-fi or David Weber… but never reading a Cookbook!)
Cover to cover Robert Irvine’s Mission:COOK! uniquely blends his life experiences with his passion for cooking. It’s an inspirational read that jumps right off with a crisis – feeding 4,000 stranded evacuees on a South Yemen beach as civil strife raged around them while he served as a chef aboard the HMY Britannia, the yacht of the British Royal Family. Creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness – Chef Irvine galvanized his team into action unloading stores & identifying tools (a pot to cook on a beach for 4,000? Brand new trashcans!) as the Royal Yacht left them to ferry evacuees to safety.
Hours later those evacuees of many different nationalities enjoyed a ‘loaves & fishes’ meal of rice, beans, broccoli & carrots… & even a dessert of rice pudding.
Since then Robert Irvine served as Chef in many famous establishments & certainly is very famous now as a culinary TV celebrity -it’s quite inspiring to read how doors opened for him, but also how hard he has worked & his willingness to take risks – like his taking on the show, Dinner Impossible.
Asked what drives him in the cooking profession, Robert Irvine narrows it down to three keys: “people, pleasure, and passion.” But, the prize goes to passion.
“Most of the time, I truly believe it is passion that drives the boat. When you’re up before the crack of dawn, or awake late, late at night, long after everyone else has eaten and gone home to bed, and you are cleaning and scraping, or slicking or stirring, and your bones are on fire and the arches in your feet are disintegrating, and you can hardly bear to look at another scrap of food, it is only passion that keeps you going.” (p. 220)
However you slice it, cooking (especially for a holiday) is LOTS of hard work. As you seek to serve the people around you – families, loved ones, friends – may all the cooks this Thanksgiving (& my friends all around the world who cook for their families) know pleasure in the kitchen, not just from making & tasting good eats but from hearts full of PASSION…
When your legs are about to give out & getting dinner on the table (on time?) seems impossible, remember: PEOPLE, PLEASURE, PASSION. The pleasure it IS to serve your loved ones (& others benefiting from your culinary largesse) something yummy. Most of all, be passionate as you cook (Chef Virginia contends that this definitely makes the food taste BETTER…) And, if the pots boil over & maybe everything doesn’t turn out quite so ok, remember why you’re doing it: LOVE.
..Asking for a bit of God’s help, like in blessing the preparations, is a also a Good Idea.
Receive God’s love anew, to BE LOVE anew –
IN THE KITCHEN!!!
grace, peace & PASSSIONATE COOKS
Virginia : )
p.s. a blessed Thanksgiving to ALL!!