When you see a beautiful, perfectly plated display of food in a magazine, it is there to represent the ideal. When the glamour shots of buffets run across the screen of your favorite cooking shows, they are there to inspire. Those captured images and pictures on the screen have been styled and airbrushed. More than likely a team of stylists have worked for hours to achieve those seemingly delicious results… and they probably aren't even edible!
When you see pictures of dishes I have cooked in magazines, on television, here on this blog or on my Facebook chef's page, - the main message I hope to impart is It's possible. I am a self-taught cook who happens to have loads of experience, a lot of opinions, and I embrace challenge. (I also embrace shortcuts, ease, and ordering take-out.) Listen, if I can do it, you can do it. Truly.
Last week I was in Los Angeles and co-hosted a dinner party with some dear friends and I embraced a huge challenge. Our guests were our besties - the people that love you even when you screw up. But I was doing all of the cooking and I had no intention of screwing up. For the most part, the menu was a success. I usually choose dishes I want to make, not necessarily recipes I have tried and know will turn out perfectly. I had a bee in my bonnet to make these Gold dusted chocolate twinkies!
Now before you get too excited, mine looked nothing like that. Mine were hideous little bricks that looked like they were spackled with metallic gold putty. I'd never made these cakes before and I had never worked with edible gold dust. (Um, who has?!) They were a bit of a failure. I couldn't find the right pans. I filled the cakes prematurely so all of the butter cream melted into the twinkie part. I should have started them the night before to let them cool, and on and on. Those are not excuses, those are my lessons learned. Perhaps I make ambitious choices to make myself grow. If I play small, I stay small, right?
I got back to New York and in catching up on email and social media, I came across this broo haha about Martha Stewart dissing bloggers. (In the LA Times food section,no less.) You can click on that link later, the gist is her saying that food bloggers are not experts. Our recipes aren't tested, we are not trained editors and writers and that no one should pay us any mind. Hmph. You'd think she would pick on somebody her own size, right? Her shows and magazines are perfect examples of styled and air brushed food like I mentioned earlier. MSO has an army of designers, craftspeople, and chefs to execute her vision.
Well, for better or for worse, I LOVE Martha Stewart. I have served dinner to Ms. Stewart in my cater waiter tuxedo at an event a jillion years ago. I have subscribed to her magazine since it started, devouring every single issue. And I have even been given a VIP tour of her offices by a friend who used to design for her. Martha inspires my kitchen, my home, and my life. She is proof that you can majorly screw up and regain control of things. Her story embodies one of my favorite phrases: We are not our circumstances. How we REACT to our circumstances allows our true selves to show up in the world.
Many bloggers have attacked Martha Stewart this past week, but I am here to offer her gratitude for shining light on the blog world. Am I an expert in making gold dusted twinkies? Nope. Am I an expert in being Lisa Adams who took on a daunting dessert to show her love to her friends? YES!
I am no less of a cook when I don't perfectly execute a recipe.
A doctor is no less of a doctor when she loses a patient.
A musician is no less of an artist when he hasn't won a Grammy.
A father is no less of a parent when his son has a learning disability.
A yoga teacher is no less of a yogi for not being able to do a handstand in the middle of the room.
Those are expectations, measurements of achievement. Those are just circumstances. Bringing our whole selves to our goals, our jobs, our purpose is the only thing in our control. We must be experts in that. Failure is inevitable. But I believe success is inevitable too.
It's possible. And if all else fails, a little edible gold dust never hurt anything.