Jamie Hertz: The mind of a chef

I would prefer to watch cooking shows certain days instead of going out with my friends and playing at the park.

By Jamie Hertz

Ever since I was a young boy I wanted to be a chef and own my own restaurant.

I can remember way back when I was eight-years-old, I use to pretend I was Martin Yan from Wok With Yan. It was a popular cooking show from the 80’s and the host “Yan” always had on kitschy aprons that said things like “watch for falling woks” or “long woks on the beach.” I use to love watching this show and actually would pretend I was him in my grandmothers kitchen, accent and all.

My mom was raised by English parents so we didn’t exactly have the Asian products that Yan did. Instead of bok choi and a wok, we had broccoli and a frying pan. I used what I had and did the best I could and it was a ton of fun.

Little did I know that this was the beginnings of a career choice some 10 years later let alone the beginnings of a deep passion for food.

I would prefer to watch cooking shows certain days instead of going out with my friends and playing at the park. I always found myself drawn to food in some way shape or form but when I think about it, I can’t pin one specific moment that drew me to food.

My whole life I have been trying to run from kitchens and cooking and it seems the harder I try to quit and do something else, the industry draws me back even harder. Even my closest friends and family have been telling me since I was very young that I should be a chef.

Food has become my meditation and my way to ground myself and being in a kitchen is my element. It has become my connection with the world and my way for the world to connect with me. There is a certain feeling you get when you take something from nothing and make it into something that someone will remember for the rest of their lives.

It may be a certain smell or taste that I have created in a dish but every time they smell or eat anything similar, their memory will take them right back to the moment where I created that dish for them. That’s what it’s all about and at the end of the day, it makes me feel like I accomplished something positive. It’s about connecting with people and creating experiences that they will remember forever. I mean after all, isn’t everything in our lives an experience?

There is a certain feeling I get when I connect with someone through food. When a complete stranger comes to you and says that what they just ate was the best they have ever experienced in their lives and that they are so thankful for what I have done, it gets me higher than any drug could even come close to touching and keeps me coming back for more.

Each time I take a break from cooking I come back the next time with a new revised version of my cooking skills so it’s only a matter of time before I turn the stove back on.

I guess that this article isn’t about any specific food topic this week but more for everyone to follow their passion and do things in their lives that make them feel complete. To never give up on yourself or your vision and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

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