Chefs, Daring Greatly

Chefs, Daring Greatly By Stephen Hickmore

“It’s not the Critic that counts; not the person who points out how the strong person stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…”

The famous ‘Man in the Arena’ speech was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910. If read in full, and every line digested, it rings as loud today as it did 109 year ago.

Most chefs experience the spirit crushing commentaries of the armchair critic, the twitter trolls, the self-appointed experts. Your sweat and stress penalised by a bigoted review. Little wonder that a chef feels overwhelmed from time to time.

‘There can be no courage without vulnerability’ to quote TED Talks Brene Brown. If a chef, is to be successful she has to put herself in the arena. Hoping for praise but knowing that she is one precarious ingredient away from a body blow. It’s an occupational hazard. Chefs are vulnerable to the opinion of those who don’t have the courage to dare greatly. The people who would rather self-validate and point out shortcomings and errors. Those unadventurous, timid, cynical souls who indulge themselves in your discomfort. Or, at worst, revel in your downfall.

Vulnerable is not weakness. If one builds a shield to deflect hurt, a chef will soon become just another backroom cook who once was fearless. Worse still; end up joining the ranks of the baying mob who will never know victory or defeat.

I guess one must find the inner strength to cope with the inevitable jibes of the ‘cold souls’ who haunt the pages of tripadvisor, Zomato, facebook and twitter. Find the fortitude to mentally compartmentalise their declarations of “The worst meal I have had in my life, like, ever”

We shouldn’t mind the constructive and helpful criticism given by those who are brave enough to engage directly. The people who deliver this news help us to grow and improve. These folks you need on your team.

So, we need to start ‘daring greatly’ a chef will never know the triumph and achievement of true success without risking both victory and defeat.

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