Food is the ultimate expression of one’s culture. It’s the culmination of years of experience, memories, artistic fervor, and the desire to make something beautiful. The experience of food is shared by every single person on earth. Unlike sports, or painting, or even music, the flavor is something we all know and appreciate.
Some of us might not have the most refined of palates. But if you’re a chef worth your name, that shouldn’t matter. What matters is the experience. What matters is translating technique into deliciousness.
This is why traveling is so important for the aspiring chef. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and see things from a different perspective. Because outside of the stuffy confines of culinary school is where the real learning begins.
As a chef, you need to be versatile. You may be used to doing things one way. But, as philosopher and duelist, Miyamoto Musashi said: “see the way broadly, and you will see it in all things.”
How you roast a pig may be different in the South Pacific than in Houston, Texas.
How you cook fish in London may be different from how they do it in Mozambique.
Having this knowledge base from traveling allows one to solve kitchen problems with ease and efficiency.
How many times have we asked a colleague, “where did you learn that?” Only to get an anecdote about their travels and experiences abroad? It happens often enough.
Unique Taste of Global Dishes
Depending on where you are in the world, there is some type of food that the general population is unfamiliar with. By presenting your experiences on the plate, you give your fellow citizens a taste of the other side of the globe.
Most people are familiar with Chinese food, but the Western region’s cuisine is rapidly being lost to politics. Most people are familiar with the Filipino food craze in America, but are people aware that they’re only cooking food from one area?
When one decides to train to become a chef, they often find that the culinary traditions of a nation extend much further and reaches much deeper than what they present to the West.
More often than not, they’re presenting what they think will be the most palatable. By traveling, you get to know what they really have to offer. And with that knowledge, you have a chance to open the eyes and options of the people in your hometown. And who knows, maybe something will click and be worthy of a business model.
When it comes to selling food, nothing works better than a story. You can serve what, cost, prep, and technique-wise, may not seem like much. But with the right story, it turns into something sought after and prized.
Having a handle on the marketing side is a sure way to get across to your customers. In a time where the internet has both democratized and elevated world cuisines, the individual with the most “authentic” presentation always comes out on top.
Cooking is culture. The two are not only synonymous but absolutely necessary for understanding people.
What we eat has a profound effect on who we are. And by exposing yourself to the various cultures of the world, you grow your understanding of people as a whole.
You start to see the unifying core that exists in all the incarnations of food. And once you see that, you can introduce all sorts of things to the people you choose to cook for.